Medical Issues

Can I get medicine or prescriptions in Japan? 

Allergy and cold medicine is readily available here. If you become ill and need to see a doctor, you will be able to get a prescription easily for antibiotics or cold medicine. However, be aware that not all medications are the same as those in North America, Europe or Oceania. If you have a medical history or allergies to medications, please be sure to bring that information along. You can bring up to one month’s supply of prescription drugs into Japan and up to two month’s supply of non-prescription drugs without completing any paperwork. This same rule applies to mailing prescription and/or non-prescription drugs. It is always a good idea to have a copy of the prescription and/or letter from the prescribing physician explaining the nature of the medication, the purpose of taking it, recommended dosage and frequency of ingestion. Most prescription drugs are permitted, including some drugs that may not be available in Japan. Drugs that are hallucinogenic, narcotic and/or psychotropic in nature will be confiscated except in extenuating circumstances where prior approval has been obtained, e.g., a cancer patient taking a type of medication that has a high percentage of pain killer; these cases are treated on a case by case basis. The following over-the-counter medications are prohibited in Japan since they contain narcotic or stimulant ingredients in excess of the Japanese standard: Tylenol Cold, Nyquil, Nyquil Liquicaps, Actifed, Sudafed, Advil Cold & Sinus, Dristan Cold No Drowsiness, Dristan Sinus, Drixoral Sinus, Vicks Inhaler, Lomotil. Japan is very strict about bringing medications into the country. Psychotropic drugs (in particular, Adderall) are prohibited and not allowed even with a prescription. If you are caught at customs with these drugs, they will be confiscated and you may be imprisoned. Please read the following article that highlights the dangers of mailing or bringing these drugs into Japan:

Please note that Japan has very strict regulations on medication. Many medications that are easily available and legal in other countries are not legal in Japan, or otherwise unavailable. If you are currently on medication and will need to continue taking it during your stay, please be sure to check the legal status of your medication in Japan. Please also be aware that if you plan to bring more than one month’s medication with you to Japan, you will need to apply for a special permit called a Yakkan Shoumei from Japan’s Bureau of Health and Welfare. If you need this, be sure to apply well in advance so that there are no mishaps. You can find more information about medication in Japan and the Yakkan Shoumei here: Medicine Import Certificate

Physical Disabilities

We do not discriminate and welcome people of all capabilities. However, Japan is very difficult for the mobility challenged. The Ibaraki Christian campus can be quite difficult to navigate as there are buildings with no elevators. In Hitachi, Tokyo and other cities, many of the roads have no sidewalks and the nearest train station to campus is currently under construction and is not barrier free.

Mental Health

Living in a foreign country can be an exciting, wonderful experience, but it can also be stressful and terrifying. As Christians and humanists, we do not discriminate. With sufficient support and preparation, most issues can be handled. If we offer you an internship and you accept, you will be in a new country and far from home and things will be different. Some interns have experienced culture shock and some have had homesickness. We hope this information will help you to be informed and prepare.

1. Mental health care in Japan is very different from in the West. Some things are not talked about or acknowledged here. There is still stigma here about receiving counseling. In addition, there is the language barrier. Please note there is no support system and there are no resources here. If you have issues, you will need to figure out how to handle them with support and resources from your home country. We will need to know about your issues to help you prepare, but please note that we are English teachers, not mental health professionals. If you have dealt with these issues in the past, please talk to your health care professional prior to applying for this position.

2. If you are seeing a therapist, we encourage you to continue via Skype or a similar communication mode.

3. People in Japan often laugh when they are uncomfortable or nervous. They are not laughing at you.

4. The Western concept of sensitivity is just that – the Western concept.

5. If you say you have a problem in Japan, people may tell you that you are fine and do not have a problem. Telling them you have a problem will make them very uncomfortable. People are not open about health issues.

6. Homestay families must be advised of possible issues in advance, so that they can make an informed decision.

In cases where you are accepted as an intern, but we determine that you are not performing effectively due to some mental health issues or other situations that we deem unsafe for our staff, students or other interns, unfortunately, we may have to ask you to leave the internship. You will be responsible for all fees incurred due to the change in schedule.

Please look at the following links for more information about mental health in Japan: Mental HealthTELL support line and Things I learned.

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