Well, we were only here about a week when we had to take advantage of Japan's nationalized health care. Thank goodness we signed up right away. As soon as we were in the system for the gaijin cards (or alien registration cards) I went back to get a health insurance card (basically the day after we submitted our paperwork). It costs money, but they bill you later so we did nothing up front. What I got was a little booklet with all of our names on it along with a health insurance number. As an added bonus, you can use the health insurance card as ID in many cases and can use it to get a cell phone if you pay your bill with a credit card. Much better than waiting a month for a gaijin card.
After getting the card (they make them while you wait) I went up to the third floor in the ward office and signed up for a special childrens program that will reimburse you if you spend over Y3000 a month in hospital fees and limits the cost per visit for children under 3 to only Y200.
Anyway, only a few days later J cut her finger with a knife as she tried to cut a grapefruit- she is so independent. So, what to do...barely here a week, still nowhere near settled. It wasn't quite enough to call an ambulance, but too much to ride bikes. I was lucky, I called a friend with a car, who called ahead to the nearest hospital. If you speak Japanese, it is nice to call ahead, but not necessary.
For others in this situation, call a cab. As soon as you have a place, memorize your address and how to explain where you are to a cab driver. Have cab numbers handy along with the other emergency numbers (110 and 119), your own phone number and address. Also figure out where the nearest hospitals are and which have emergency rooms. Several hospitals also have English speaking staff- look at the Kyoto International Center website for lists.
Once you are in a hospital you need to show your insurance card and fill out forms. They make a hospital card for you to use in subsequent visits. In our case we got a referral to another bigger hospital (in case there was nerve or tendon damage- thankfully there wasn't). There we had to fill out more paper work and she got about 10 stitches - not fun. When we went back to the hospital for a checkup, we had to make another card for the new hospital because we were there too late to make one the day before. Anyway, once we got the card we could go to the automatic check in machine to check in, go right to the waiting room for the doctor we needed and when we were done we took the paperwork to the checkout desk where we would wait for our number to appear on the screen at which point we would be able to pay at the automatic payment machines. Now this was the case both at the Prefectural Medical School hospital on Kawaramachi just south of Imadegawa and the Second Red Cross hospital near the prefectural office west of the Imperial Palace and just north from Marutamachi.
A word of warning, both of these hospitals will charge you extra if you go there without a referral. For the Prefectural Medical School hospital it is only about Y1500, but for the Red Cross hospital it was over Y5000!!! We did have great luck with an English speaking internal medicine specialist at the Red Cross hospital though. Also- NOTHING is in English, so if you don't speak Japanese go to the front desk and they will probably try to help you through the sometimes labyrinthine process. Anyway, I hope you, dear readers, will not need this information, but it is good to know just in case.