Did you know that giving blood in Japan is not only beneficial to society but can be quite fun? Giving blood only takes an hour or two to complete the process, and most blood donation centers are generous to blood donors with gifts. And why not take advantage of the book corner, special drinks, and snacks after your blood donation?

In Japan, the need for blood donations is even greater in recent years due to the decreasing birth rate and increasing number of elderly people in Japan. Blood donation centers, or blood donation “rooms” 献血ルーム, are run by the Japanese Red Cross Society. There are multiple blood donation centers throughout Japan and a number of locations in each major city. Check this site to find the blood donation center nearest you.

In this article, I will give you the ins and outs of giving blood in Japan.

Giving Blood for the First Time

Is it your first time giving blood in Japan? Do not fret! The Red Cross staff is kind and will help you through the registration process. To give blood in Japan, you will need a basic knowledge of Japanese, but they will provide you with some of the questions in English as needed.

If it is your first time giving blood, you will need to bring a basic identification card such as a driver’s license or residence card. You will then fill out some questionnaires and forms and receive a Red Cross member’s card. Remember to bring this card to give blood in the future. The Red Cross staff will also ask you some basic questions to make sure you are eligible. Ask questions, and do your best to understand all the basics of giving blood.

Criteria for Blood Donation

You cannot give blood if you meet these criteria:

  • You just received dental treatment (with bleeding) in the last 3 days
  • You have traveled and returned to Japan within the last 4 weeks
  • You got a piercing within the last month
  • You took medicine in the last 24 hours

You must consult a staff member if you:

  • Had medicine within the last 3 days
  • Received a vaccine within the last year (Please indicate to the staff when you received the COVID-19 vaccine)
  • Lived abroad outside of Europe, the US, and Canada (living in specific countries has specific dates and restrictions that will not allow you to give blood)

Blood Donation Step-by-Step Process

Each time you give blood, you will go through these steps.

  1. Sign in with a staff member, telling them your name, date of birth, address, and phone number. You will be asked to put your belongings in a locker at this time. Indicate how much blood you will be giving that day (200 mL, 400 mL, blood plasma/platelet or if you weigh over 70kg, 600 mL.) You will then need to take your blood pressure and give the results print-out to the staff member. Then, answer questions regarding yourself on a tablet. Most centers have a copy of these questions in English, so please ask them for the English translations if needed.
  2. You will be given a wristband and buzzer. Wait in the lobby, making sure to drink enough liquids before you are called.
  3. When you are called, you will be ushered to another room to have a consultation with a doctor. They will check your forms and make sure you are eligible to donate.
  4. You will then consult with a nurse who will check your blood type and your hemoglobin levels.
  5. If your levels are satisfactory, you are ready to give blood. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes for the blood draw of up to 400 mL and 40-90 minutes for blood plasma/platelet donation or 600 mL of blood.
  6. Rest in the lobby for at least 10 minutes, making sure to drink liquids and have a snack or two. The staff will return your card and other documents to you after your rest time is completed.

After Giving Blood

After giving blood, the staff will tell you not to do any extraneous physical activity or take a bath within 2 hours. They will remind you to take it easy and rest and drink plenty of liquids.

The staff will indicate when you can give blood next after your blood draw. Women must wait 6 months before giving blood again.

Make sure to spend some time in the lobby throughout your visit. Most blood donation centers have books, magazines, and comic books for you to read as you wait. The Ikebukuro Blood Donation Center “Café” and Shinjuku “Gift” locations have several drink vending machines, snacks, and ice cream for you as you rest and wait.

Enjoy your experience giving blood in Japan!