Raising a child in Japan: The 3-year health check

By Elizabeth Sok

A few months earlier, the ward office had informed me that the checks had been delayed due to COVID-19, but that hers should come up a few months after her third birthday. Yet, when it arrived, the bulk of the contents surprised me, as did the many forms and tests enclosed. In Canada, I never had attempted to test my kid’s hearing or sight by myself or gathered her urine for collection before! Read on to find out our story and what awaits at the sansai kenshin (three-year health check)!

A Check-up full of Unknowns

The ladies manning the front desk of the health check were unfazed by my daughter’s cries. At first, I worried that she would be the only three-year-old protesting the general check-up in a group setting, but within thirty seconds of arriving, screams emanated from the different rooms and I saw that we were in good company.

As my little girl clutched her new Sylvanian Family rabbit doll and surveyed the room suspiciously, we were instructed to wait outside the dentist’s room—her least favorite for sure! There was something strangely relaxing to be in the sterile setting with so many other mothers and children of the same age, a certain companionship borne of the shared situation. The other Mamas—and there were only mothers at our check-up save for my husband who had come for moral support—seemed unfazed by the experience, many checking their phones impatiently while we waited. Given how many of these checks they had likely already been to, unlike my family, both they and their kids seemed to know the drill.

Even though we had been in Japan for six months, luckily for us, my daughter had never gotten sick; so, we had yet to explore the medical system with her. Still, as I noted above, the multiple forms which arrived in the mail seemed daunting: a whispering test for hearing and a vision test to be conducted at home, a urine sample to be collected, as well as a long mostly multiple-choice form about my daughter’s behavior and abilities, pretty much across the board.

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© Savvy Tokyo

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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