When I worked in the corporate world and was 10-20 years younger, I dreaded the annual mandatory company Ningen Dock (Japan Physical Check-up). Now I am a mompreneur and who has to pay for my medical care mostly, so I had not had an annual Ningen Dock in four years. My husband and I thought it would be a good idea for me to have a physical after having lost a lot of weight on the Keto Diet. The goal was to determine that I was getting healthier and show I was going to live a lot longer. At St. Luke’s Hospital, I had 13 different types of tests and exams over the two days Ningen Dock. If you have an urgent need to visit a doctor in Japan, check out our recommended list of doctors here.
Ningen Dock Experience – Japan Physical Check-up@ St. Luke’s Hospital
Ningen Dock means Ningen (human) and Dock (is a place boats come to be checked out). The Japanese Ningen Dock practice began in 1954, and over 5MM Japanese people partake in a one or two day Ningen doc annually. Many companies and local governments also provide free or subsidies for Ningen Dock ‘s check-ups. They are very time efficient and have been proven to find early-stage health issues (diabetes, cancer, etc.) that have higher chances of being cured.
I am glad I did my Ningen Dock since we found three indicators of severe future health issues if not diagnosed and treated. Two issues were treated on the same day, and one will need follow-up. Depending on the breadth and depth of your Ningen Dock tests, the cost runs between a few hundred to a few thousand USD for 1-2 days. If problems are found, the treatments will are covered by your insurance, but usually, the initial Ningen Dock is not included.
I highly recommend the two-day physical check-up at St. Luke’s. The facility is state of the art, many nurses and doctors speak English, 90% of documentation was in English, and you are fast-tracked through all tests (no waiting with the masses which is typical at big Japanese hospitals). Ningen Dock’s physicals are supposedly offered at over 1,500 hospitals and clinic in Japan – our top recommenced locations are below.
Basic Flow is as follows for a two day Ningen Dock. If you choose one day, then the path is condensed and options may not be added.
1. A few weeks before the Ningen Dock you will receive a questionnaire about your health to complete and take with you on the day of the exam.
2. Check in by 9;00 and go to your private room – unpack and dress in Hospital PJs and robe.
3. The flow of your exams will depend on when the doctors can fit you in. When the nurse comes to your room she will escort you to each examine. It is like the Fast Pass at Disney. As soon as you go to each department you are immediately examined. After each exam you go back to your room. Order of exams can change due to Doctors’ schedules.
4. If an issue is found in an exam then a specialty may be added. Dermatology was added for me because I had some strange spots on my forehead (they ended up being precancerous and burned off).
5. You will spend a lot of down-time in your room so bring your mobile devices, work or books. There is free wifi at St. Luke’s.
6. At the end of the 2nd day of exams, a doctor will explain everything and talk about improvements that can be made and/or next steps for treatments.
6. In 2-3 weeks, I will receive an English report with all the details for my files.
Nigen Dock Experience – Japan Physical Check-up@ St. Luke’s Hospital
Tests I had done over 36 hours
++ Before all tests are started you have a consultation with the head doctor about your health history and any concerns you may have (best to write down before hand)
1. Height and weight and abdominal circumference
2. Blood tests
3. Urine and stool test
4. Blood pressure (4 X over 1.5 days)
4. Abdominal ultrasonography x-ray (chest, abdomen)
7. Respiratory function test
8. Branchial ankle pulse wave velocity
9. Ophthalmologic exam
10. Colonoscopy – learning make sure you get sedated!
11. Brain MRI and MRA
12. Dermatological exam
13. Gynecological exam
+++After all tests you have a consultation with the doctor on the detailed results and discuss next steps. If follow-up is needed appointments are made on the spot. If you return to the same hospital each year, they will track your results and discuss. If you have a report from a prior hospital visit, take with you to compare changes.
Tokyo Hospitals that offer Ningen Dock Experiences – Japan Physical Check-up
Most hospitals in Japan offer a variation of Ningen Dock programs. However, my Japanese and expat friends highly recommend these.
St. Luke’s Ningen Dock Program (Tsukiji, Tokyo) – One day is about 700 USD, 2-7 days is 2,000 – 7,000 USD
St. Luke’s English Website: http://hospital.luke.ac.jp/eng/for-patients/medical-check-up/index.html
Mid-Town Clinic Physical (Roppongi, Tokyo): One day Ningen Doc runs 300 to 1,000 USD
English Website: https://www.tokyomidtown-mc.jp/en/health/index.html
Health Screenings: https://www.tokyomidtown-mc.jp/en/pdf/annual_Checkup.pdf
Tokyo Medical and Surgical Private Physicals (Shiba Koen, Tokyo) – One day check-up 67,000 – 87,000 yen, not all tests are done at the main facility
English Website: http://tmsc.jp/physical-examinations
Red Cross Hospital (Shibuya, Tokyo) – 90,000 to 150,000 yen, many options are additional.
English Website: http://www.med.jrc.or.jp/en/tabid/393/Default.aspx
Red Cross Hospital Ningen Doc Options in Japanese: http://www.med.jrc.or.jp/hospital/clinic/tabid/294/Default.aspx
Gyotoku General Hospital (Chiba, Ichikawa-Shi)– One day is 50,000, multi day up to 200,000 yen
English Website: https://gyo-toku.jp/en/exam-immunization/dock.html