Visiting the Doctor
Before going to Japan, even if you aren’t required to have a doctor’s appointment, I recommend scheduling one anyway (If you are going to Rikkyo, you’ll probably be required to). You’ll want to talk to your doctor to make sure you are up-to-date on all of your vaccinations and, if you take any medications, whether or not you will be able to bring your medications with you on your trip.
I’m not sure if this is a requirement of all Japanese universities for international students, or whether it was simply a requirement of Rikkyo, but I was required to have a physical.
For the most part, it was your typical physical. It asked about present or past illnesses, allergies, and medications. The part I wasn’t expecting was that I was required to have a chest X-Ray. My physician then had to sign off for me to be able to participate in any educational/physical activities with no restrictions.
While there are no specific vaccines that are required before going to Japan, you should make sure that you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines and possibly a few others depending on where in Japan you are going and how long you are going. You can find more information on the CDC’s website regarding vaccinations and other tips for staying healthy in Japan.
If you currently take any medication, make sure to check which medications and how much you are allowed to bring into Japan. In general, you will only be able to bring a couple months supply of over-the-counter medications and a months supply of prescription medication (with a copy of the doctor’s prescription and letter stating the purpose of the drug). Medications that contain stimulants may be strictly forbidden depending on the amount of raw stimulant. This means that you may not be able to import allergy medications, inhalers, medications typically used for ADD and ADHD such as Adderall, and more. More details about about what medications can be brought with you to Japan can be found on the website for the US Embassy in Tokyo.
One last thing to consider is the flight to Japan. This may not apply to everyone, but some people get incredibly motion sick from car rides and flights. If you are one of these people, I highly suggest talking to your doctor about it before you leave. Personally, I get incredibly motion sick depending on the scenario. The last time I flew on a plane was when I was really young, before I started having issues with motion sickness, so I have no idea if my flight to Japan will make me feel sick. At the recommendation from one of my co-workers, I picked up wristbands called Sea-Bands that are supposed to help with nausea. I’ve decided to give these a try to see if they help, and if they don’t I may ask my physician if there is anything stronger to combat my motion sickness during the flight.