Japanese Health Check

3 Jun

Most Japanese companies require all their employees to get a health check every year. Often you will need a medical certificate at stage two of a job application process also and really, it is actually quite fantabulous that the country puts so much effort into preventative health care.

This however does not deter from the get your tits out, hang upside, spread your legs, invasiveness of the standard Japanese health check. I did my last one the year after mum died. Remember. I was convinced I had a rapidly growing brain tumor – that I put down solely to the fact that I’d put the remote control in the fridge by mistake or something equally as brain-tumor-ish and akin to mum thinking I was giving her a snack of dead cicaders when in fact it was a handful of licorice. I got the standard health check (free as a dependent of a city office worker) and then paid an extra hundred and fifty dollars for an MRI.

The only thing wrong with me was my weight and my slightly fatty liver. I put off going the next year, and then the next and finally went again on Monday.

I would love to have been able to take pictures of everything but you will have to satisfy yourselves with a few pics and a word by word account of the entire lovely, and at times traumatic, experience.


An envelope arrived in the mail with a couple of questionnaires and two poo sample wand thingies. One questionnaire was general health (including how many drinks and how often) and  the other is for females having a smear test. The poo sample wand thingies are accompanied by a detailed sheet outlining how to best collect your poo with said wand thingie…


I know its blurred but this is probably preferable for those of you drinking or consuming foodstuffs as you read this. Let me outline it for you (you’re welcome). Basically you crap onto the piece of paper they provide (that is flushable) and then get out the wand thingy, do a few sweeps of the poo, while trying not to breathe and locking the toilet door because children keep wanting to ask you shit and they haven’t grasped the concept of asking through a closed door, and then encase it back into its little vile of chemicals for testing. This must be done on two separate days within three days of the health check. I just know that the not being able to drink or eat after 9pm the night before and on the morning means, coupled with the fact that I get stage fright when it comes to having to poo and pee on demand, I need to get my samples on the two days prior.

So I do. And thats enough about poo.


Try and wake up all bright-eyed and bush-tailed but got no sleep the night before as convinced body riddled with various types of cancer and tis start of possibly my final week on earth.

Arrive at the city hospital which is a 45 minute drive away. They did a huge remodeling a few years back and there is a separate wing for health checks. Which is good, because you get made to wear a poo-brown pair of trousers and matching poo-brown kimono-style top and this is made only slightly more bearable if you aren’t among the general public and are just passing other poo-brown figures in the hallway…


When you first arrive you check in, hand over your questionnaires and poo samples and then get ushered into the changing room. I went automatically for the XL but the woman told me it would be too big and I should just wear an L. I could have hugged her but I’d just handed two wands of my poo to her so thought it would seem awkward.

I then got a cute little clipboard with the order for my day’s various checks…



Can I just mention here that I arrived at 8:30 and was dressed and out the door by 10:20. In New Zealand it would take me quite possibly an entire week to get round the different venues necessary to carry out these tests.

1. Blood Pressure and Metabolic Fat Tummy Measure

My blood pressure was a bit high, which is hardly surprising as I was still stressed from knowing I had to get my tits out on three occasions, get something shoved up the saloon doors AND pee on demand. Seriously, telling me to take a few deep breaths and calm down is not going to help. Take my blood pressure at the other end when I’m just so happy its all over people would suspect I’d been smoking weed. The Metabolic Fat Tummy Measure has a more medical sounding name ‘I think’ but names aside, my tummy is too fat.

2. Cardioelectrogram

Or is it an electrocardiogram? Either way, it involved me having to lie face up on a bed with my upper half completely exposed. It felt like restarting a car battery because the young man (don’t even get me started on the fact that the three, no make that four, times I had to expose my boobs it was for male technicians – three of whom were, at a guess, in their late 20s and one was a middle-aged man similar to what you would expect to see jumping up and down at an AKB48 concert) clamped two clamps on my ankles and then two clamps on my wrists. He then had to put 6 suction cap things around my heart – which unfortunately, or fortunately, for him lay under my massive left boob which was spread out and spilling over my side in all her booby glory. He then pressed a few buttons on his computer machine thing and pulled the suction caps off – and they actually made that fabulous suction cap schlurpy noise. It was almost comical. Almost.

3. Hearing, Weight and Height

Got ushered into the hearing booth where I had to put on headphones and listen out for the four sounds in the following order. Yip, they actually had a sign with the order – left ear low pitch, left ear high pitch yaddah yaddah. To hub’s surprise my hearing is pretty damn good. So good in fact that when the kids were babies a deer crying in the valley two hills over would wake me up. Deers and babies – they sound quite similar on occasion. Well, they do if you’re a sleep deprived mother with three children under three.  The woman then took my weight and measured my height. Meh. At least I’m not shrinking so I guess thats a win. Also had a simple eye test – which way is the horseshoe facing kind of test. I have a lazy right eye so it was basically the lady asking me for each row and me just inserting more and more ‘maybes’ and then just laughing and completely giving up.

4. Blood Test

Very normal. She took three tubes of blood and off I went.

5. Retinar Test and Funny Air Pump in Your Eye Test

There is a machine like the one you put your chin on, and forehead up to, at an eye check for glasses, except this one pumps out puffs of air right into your eyeball. There is another similar machine beside it that takes an x-ray of one or both of your eyes depending on the quick eye check mentioned above. Tis a flash of light so bright and painful that you blink white circles for a good 30seconds afterwards.

6. Doctor Check

Got ushered into a cubicle and the curtain drawn. There was a nurse and the older male technician doctor dude who may or may not spend his weekends sweating and jerking off to AKB48 videos. He got his stethoscope out and checked my heart , my lungs and um, my kidneys? or my spleen? Do they make noises enough to be heard through a stethoscope? My boobs were exposed but the nurse had placed a towel skinny lengthways across my nipples. Probably covers some people’s entire boobs but yeah, nah, not mine.

The doctor then did a full and extremely thorough hand breast examination which was hands down, the most traumatic part of the day. He went all the way around both boobs from under my arm and right to the nipple, taking his pretty little time about it. I mean I’m sure they are taught to be thorough and lord knows if I find out I have a lump in my boob after all that I might get all American on his sorry ass and sue him.

7. Echo

I ‘think’ this was an echo of my kidneys and maybe my liver? I had to expose my upper half, again. The hot young doctor put a towel over my boobs and then hot gel on my stomach and sides. I must say he used quite a lot of pressure and tis probably a miracle he didn’t rupture anything. He went down far enough to make me think he also checked my uterus – and I’m happy to report I didn’t see anything moving in there. Huurah. Bonus. Being told I was overweight, had a fatty liver AND was expecting a fourth child probably would have led me to the bottle – which of course would have led to more weight, more fatty liver and a child with eyes on the side of their head.

8. Pee Test

After getting a box of tissues and a warm towel to wipe the gel off my stomach, I tied my kimono top back up (they do leave while you dress – a curtain gets pulled along – which is kind of silly as they’ve just seen everything – not however as silly as the pink flimsy cape you get at the mammogram) and walked out to be handed a pee cup and directed to the toilet next door – I had seen from my vantage point on the bed that beyond the echo area was the pee test area and I could hear the nice echo technician boy going to the back of the toilet to wait for me to put my cup of pee into the little doored cubby hole beside the toilet. Fark. It was all just so much pressure that I promptly dropped the fuckin cup into the loo. Obviously hadn’t peed in it yet so I went in for the retrieval and just hope there weren’t funny chemicals in the toilet water that will change my pee results! I finally managed to squeeze about ten mls out, put my cup in the cubby hole and then felt the urge to pee and promptly filled the toilet up half way. Go figure.

9. Mammogram 

I then get led to the radio department for X-rays and stuff. I got a quick chest x-ray and then taken into the mammogram room. It was the same man who did it three years ago and he remembered me – or he remembered my boobs. I had to take my kimono top off and step out in a tiny pink cape that did up with a button around the neck and covered approximately one third of each breast. I got each boob sandwiched horizontally and then vertically. Any boob touching that goes on is fine because it is all matter of fact and not a slow massage type check of my nipples.

10. Barium Swallow

Last on the agenda was drinking the Barium and getting tipped upside down on the x-ray machine. First I got handed a little cupful of ummm, crystal-type stuff that is like that popping candy. You have to put it in your mouth and then swallow a mouthful of the shit disgusting barium. Despite the desire to just stand there and burp for the next ten minutes you aren’t allowed to burp at all. The doctor then gets you to keep drinking the barium as he takes x-rays, before tipping you horizontally, getting you to roll over three times, face this way, turn that way, go nearly completely upside down and then roll over one last time for good measure. My kimono top was getting all twisted and this very nearly became boob exposure room part 5.


My smear was cancelled because the doctor got called out and I have to go back on Friday for that. Sucks monkey nuts that I couldn’t get it all over with in the one day but never mind.

Hub had his check on the same day and despite saying he wouldn’t wait cause my extra girly checks would take too long, he did wait and off we went out to lunch before he headed back to work and me home to patiently wait for the laxatives to work so I could shit out all the barium. It was fast and furious and it made me five minutes late for picking up Ryu but such is life.

And that my friends, was my health check. Did anyone even get this far!!

Should have my results in a few days.




22 Responses to “Japanese Health Check”

  1. Anita June 3, 2015 at 4:23 am #

    Hilarious!! 😀

    • gaijinwife June 3, 2015 at 6:05 am #

      Glad you enjoyed the account of my traumatic morning! Only 362 days till the next one 🙂

  2. bri65 June 3, 2015 at 5:34 am #

    Wow, two wows, in fact. One for you for being such a trooper going through all of that, and the second for Japan’s health care system. Maybe they should come over and teach us (US) how to do it.

    • gaijinwife June 3, 2015 at 6:05 am #

      It really is very thorough and for an extra $15 each there were bone density tests, allergy tests, etc etc and then a bit more for a CAT scan or MRI. Seriously, you could pay $200 a year for an entire turn you inside out and test everything check. They also have health check busses that go around the more remote areas. Granny K gets hers done that way, and yes, she still has a test every year! Craziness. A good craziness – minus the boob massage.

  3. xanaxjunkee June 3, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

    I wish we had something that efficient here in the US. 😦 And our gowns are awful, one-size fits all, open back end, showing your tail for all to see thin material.
    My aunt was just diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer so this insurance year I plan on upping my insurance to the top notch and having my body scanned, tested, probed to make sure I don’t have any thing amiss. Insurance here is a high priced ridiculous joke too. I have it now but I have a 2000 dollar deductible that needs to be met before they consider covering between 60-80% of procedures. And forget it if it’s not a “necessary” procedure cause then it’s out of pocket. I don’t even hit the 2k deductible yet still am mandated to pay a few hundred a check towards insurance. -_- It’s high way robbery I tell ya!

    • gaijinwife June 4, 2015 at 12:20 am #

      The insurance system in Japan is probably so good because of the health checks – they know the majority of the population get regular checks and are more likely to find something wrong in the very early stages. The system in the US sounds completely shit. So sorry to hear about your aunt. Cancer sucks monkey nuts. Wishing you and your aunt love and strength. And go get your boobs squashed and massaged. Better safe and a bit traumatic than sorry. xx

  4. Mr sekimachihato June 4, 2015 at 3:24 am #

    What’s up with that Cardioelectrogram check (I didn’t know this word until today). Not that I’m complaining but it’s always females who stick the suction cups on me. And yes, they are always in their late 20s.

    • gaijinwife June 4, 2015 at 3:38 am #

      I only know this word because I translated a school medical report the day after my check 🙂 And wat!! Maybe they have a technician waiting room and they all janken (or pull short straws) for each patient 🙂 I’m not quite sure if having huge boobs would have warranted janken or straws but it was all in all rather awkward.

  5. Lisa Case June 4, 2015 at 3:45 am #

    OMG You have now totally traumatized me. I was already worried about trying to figure out how to do the Japanese paperwork and now you tell me I’ll be flashing my 40D’s at a bunch of men? I was really hoping to find a lady Dr. for my intimate exams but sounds like at least 30 people are going to see me naked! Nope…not happening. Dying really does seem less traumatizing.

    • gaijinwife June 4, 2015 at 3:55 am #

      oops. But they will put a small towel over your nipples! I know you aren’t meant to drink anything beforehand but I am positive a few quick shots before you go will make the whole experience more bearable.

  6. Natasha June 4, 2015 at 4:50 am #

    Traumatic for you, but very funny to read about your Pooh and Boob extravaganza. Very impressed with the Japanese health care system 😁

    • gaijinwife June 4, 2015 at 8:50 am #

      You could time your next visit to coincide and perhaps I could get you doing one too next time! – think that girls day we had and the paper undies and breast massage and think yip – it was about as equally traumatic.

      • Natasha June 7, 2015 at 12:20 am #

        Anything that involves paper undies cannot be good…. 😉

  7. Lauren June 4, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Wow, that brings back memories, good and bad. I almost miss being able to get the yearly check up for free and at work! About 5 big buses that were basically a mobile diagnostic clinic would come to work for the day. That barium stuff is bloody awful though. You’re a brave woman doing it. The poo kit and description cracked me up. I remember being completely bewildered and disgusted the first time I was given one and told by a workmate what I had to do. I can usually shit like a trooper but as soon as I had to 2 days in a row, no joy! I hope all your results come back good 🙂

    • gaijinwife June 4, 2015 at 8:49 am #

      same! (crosses fingers and hoping that no phone call since Monday means I haven’t got stage 4 cancer! – unless they’ve called hub and everyones just decided it would be better if I didn’t know, which up until recently still happened here. Hub’s father was in hospital for a year before he died of cancer and not once did he ask and not once did the doctor tell him – Granny K knew everything but they didn’t want him jumping out the window or something…..

      • Lauren June 4, 2015 at 10:55 am #

        Yeah, I’ve heard of a few families keeping results to themselves so the ill person is able to have more time without stressing or feeling like a burden on the family. Doctors don’t seem to be exactly forthcoming with bad news over there do they. When I injured my back in Japan, the doctor wouldn’t tell me what he saw on the x-ray, he just referred me to a specialist for an MRI the next day and gave me a sealed envelope to give to the doctor there. Of course I went home and steamed the letter open to read it. He had written ‘probable bone tumours’. It wasn’t, thank goodness, just herniated discs, but sheesh it freaked the shit out me at the time. I think I’d rather know straight away and be able to ask questions.

  8. gaijinwife June 4, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Lauren – Oh my bloody god. How scary! Bet you got loads of sleep that night, not. Jeeze. Seriously, a bit more straight forwardness would be nice here (as much as I appreciate being able to say ‘chotto’ to get me out of anything 🙂

  9. Jennifer Colman Tokuda June 6, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    Kudos to you for going through that craziness! I think that it is awesome you can get every molecule of your body checked without having to take out three mortgages on your home. Love that about Japanese healthcare. I seriously should get in the habit of yearly checks, especially now that I have the baby monster, but I am one of those people who freaks out and always thinks, “OH GOD THEY ARE GOING TO FIND 472 KINDS OF CANCER”. D;

    • gaijinwife June 6, 2015 at 9:37 am #

      Glad I’m not the only one! You should get in the habit – I should too. Once every four years isn’t on! The baby monsters need us around long enough to annoy them when they have their own baby monsters 🙂

  10. aquilamaris June 7, 2015 at 12:55 am #

    Your health check was so much more thorough than mine for being an ALT. All I had to do was provide the dr with the results from my most recent blood test and get a chest x-ray to check for TB.

  11. GTA painters June 7, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

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  12. Polly June 22, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    omgoodness, this was hilarious!! thank you for typing it out!
    as a jet, i get the compulsory check up every year… but i guess still being in my 20s means that they dont ask me to do some of the things you have to (no poo check, no mammogram, no barium, etc.) (of course im sure you remember!)

    i always wonder about the electro-cardio thingy. its always a woman for me, but im not the best with having my blood taken, and they always do the electro thing right after taking the blood. the first year i went, i wasnt expecting having to give blood at all (we dont really have this sort of organised check up in the uk afaik.. id never been to one.) when i know its coming, i can deal with it, but it just took me by surprise and i almost started freaking out, i was on the verge of tears, lol! anyway, the “kind” doctor excused me from it but i still had the electro thing. of course, the results came back saying my pulse was “very irregular” haha!
    last time, the final doctor check up bit was done by a man. a pretty old dude, at that. he wanted to listen to my chest so i had to lift my bra way up, basically flashed him. god that was incredibly awkward. a few chikan experiences have made me extremely weary of old men. well done for getting your boobs out 4 times!

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