Sunday, October 5, 2014

Compare and contrast, hospitals to give birth, Tokyo

Since many mothers in Tokyo choose Dr. Sakamoto (as have I), I want to give a quick run-down of the three hospitals he can deliver in (as I now have experienced all three). Given my over-all experience, I am going to say Aiiku is the place to go.


Very nice staff, efficient
1/3 of nurses speak English
Very thorough
They are advocates of kangaroo care and room-in for your baby.
*To me, this is a pro, but some may see it as a con
They stress the importance of breast feeding
*To me, this is a pro, but some may see it as a con
Monitors on baby bed to check breathing
Nice ammenities. They provide Shiseido face wash, lotions, shampoo, etc. for private rooms.
NICU is high level
Japanese prince was born there. It is typically very difficult to even be admitted to Aiiku.

Nice light pink decor everywhere. 
Feather blankets (nice)
*Pillows are filled with beans or rice and very hard.
All private rooms equipped with shower and toilets
All private rooms have refrigerators
Towels and daily sheet change provided for the suite rooms only
Bring your own towels, just in case
Room-in possible for your husband for the medium and large rooms for 1000 yen extra a day
Smallest room---decent (room charge 25,000 yen/day)
Largest room---spacey (double the charge)
I stayed in both the largest and the smallest room during my 10 day stay
The smaller rooms are usually not available right away, but the larger rooms most likely will be. In my case, I started out with a large room and then downgraded. They usually don't allow you to switch rooms mid-way unless you are changing from a shared to a private room. I had a special exception made for me because I had not delivered yet 

Food--hit and miss. Bring your own breakfast food. Repeat: BRING YOUR OWN BREAKFAST FOOD (they serve bean soup with rolls ever other day for breakfast) 
Japanese meal selection is decent, but the attempt at the Western style meals can be compared to coach airplane food.
I stayed at Sanno on my previous pregnancy, so was spoiled there. A step down, accommodation/food-wise from Sanno, but step-up facility wise.
If you want an epidural, you must use Dr. Sakamoto, or schedule delivery.

Seibo Hospital

Very good facilities
Nice staff, very patient and plenty
-I had a nurse come in and sit with me for 3 hours to help me breastfeed my daughter. 
There is an English speaking sister (Sister Barbara)
General nurses: I don't think many of them speak English, other than Sister Barbara, who did visit a couple of times to check up on me
Food: Typical hospital food. Bring your own snacks.
Shower: It depends on the room. I had to use a shower down the hall, but had a toilet in my room.
Room-in: They let me husband room-in, for a small extra charge.
Dr. Sakamoto seems to prefer this hospital and pretty much guarantees a private room
I think this is the least costly of the three options (not by much)
Good NICU (I did not use this, but reputation is good)

Old, hospital-like, but decent
Green interior 
Showers are not in all private rooms/Shared shower
Bring your own towels

Far from my home (but it was ok because it was my first baby, so a long labor and no rush to get to the hospital)
Big hospital, a bit run down
*The delivery room was huge, something from the 70's
*The halls were long and very hospital-like
*As of 2008, they didn't have monitors on the baby beds that alert you when the baby stops breathing (they do at Aiiku and Sanno)
If you want an epidural, you must use Dr. Sakamoto, or schedule delivery.

Sanno hospital

Rooms are like a business hotel, very nice for a hospital.
Friendly nurses
Nice facilities
All rooms equipped with shower and toilets
I cannot remember if there was a fridge in the room
Good circumcision doctor.
Baby beds equipped with monitors to check breathing
Nice delivery room.
Food is good and you can select the menu
If room and board is your priority, Sanno is the place to go.
It is a full service hospital, so your medical needs can be met there
All rooms are private.

Limited staff, but it didn't bother me, as I had a healthy baby. May need to think twice if you may deliver a premature baby or baby with other possible complications.
Do not go there if you suspect anything going wrong with your delivery or baby. No emergency facilities and limited NICU. 
I was not impressed with the in-staff pediatrician 
Dr.  Sakamoto was on vacation when my son was born, so a Sanno doctor delivered him. I was not impressed with Dr. Oshiba, as she barely made my delivery (I had a mid-wife pushing my baby in to wait for her to come). I was screaming at the mid-wives to just catch the baby and not wait for the doctor!!!
If you want an epidural, you must use Dr. Sakamoto, or schedule delivery.


  1. Hello Janica,
    Thank you for this very interesting post.

    You might be able to help me with a question: In case we want an epidural, is it necessary to see Dr. Sakamoto and only him ?
    I plan to deliver at Aiiku, not been there yet, and wondering whether I should start going to Aiiku (any doctor) or going to Dr. Sakamoto's clinic first ?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Celine:
      Did you ever receive a response to this question? My wife and I are in exactly the same situation and wondering the same thing...

    2. You can go direct with hospitals, without going the specialist international route. If you are looking to save money, I suggest this. However, I did not mind paying the premium for Dr. Sakamoto's services. Hospital appointments (especially at Aaiku) are very long. I would be there 2-3 hours, versus 45 minutes at a clinic. Another option, is to go to Dr. Sakamoto's Omotesando clinic, where they accept national health insurance. He partners with a lady doctor, Dr. Tomoko. She will refer you to Aiiku or another hospital for delivery. You cannot get epidural around the clock if you deliver without Dr. Sakamoto. You will need to schedule your delivery and induce during hospitsl operating hours. Also, by going direct with a hospital, such as Aiku, the doctor may not be the same each time and you will get whoever is on staff for your delivery.

      I once scheduled my delivery at Sanno and my boy came before the scheduled date. I was mentally and emotionally upset because I had planned on having an epidural and it was not available to me. So, if epidural is a MUST, I recommend going with Dr. Sakamoto. Otherwise, there will be a chance that you may not receive it, even with a scheduled delivery (as in my case).