The low-down on directions, instructions, and more.

As many of you know, you can carry the COVID-19 virus without experiencing any symptoms. It has been arguably more difficult in Japan than other countries to get tested for COVID-19, especially if you are asymptomatic. But there are options out there, even if they’re not well-known! That’s why our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa decided to take his seemingly healthy self to Akihabara’s PCR Test Center.

This testing center is organized by a medical group that also has testing booths in areas like Haneda Airport, so you can rest assured that they’re trustworthy. Their goal in setting up booths like this one is to make PCR tests more accessible for people that need a test but not necessarily medical treatment.

“Perfect, that sounds like me!” thought Seiji, and he got ready to go. But wait! If you’re thinking of casually dropping by on your way to mourn the loss of the giant Sega arcade, think again. The first step to visiting the Akihabara PCR Test Center is actually to make an online reservation. When Seiji signed up for a test, there was fairly good availability despite it being a Sunday.

▼ Yep, pretty much all free, as indicated by the circles.

The second step is to arrange payment. It costs 2,300 yen (US$21.01) per test, but they don’t accept cash. That means you’ll have to pay by credit card, your IC card, or another form of electronic payment.

The third step is actually getting there. Seiji admits that he isn’t that great with directions, so he was glad for the giant “PCR Test Center” billboard plastered on the building he was aiming for.

▼ It also helps that it’s bigger than the other signs on the same building!

Next, you have to go inside and take the test, solely relying on the written and visual instructions provided. There are no staff to ask for guidance, so while it might be difficult if your Japanese reading ability isn’t that great, it’s also a good option for those that are anxious or nervous about talking to people.

▼ No waiting line here, either.

To complete the test, you need to unzip the PCR test bag and remove the straw from the testing tube. Then, add your saliva to the testing tube via the straw. Since you need between one and two milliliters (0.03-0.07 ounces) of saliva to get reliable test results, the test asks you to fill up the tube to the 1.5-milliliter mark.

▼ Even if you don’t understand Japanese that well, you can kind of figure out what to do by looking at the picture.

The final steps are to close the testing tube tightly, dispose of the straw, and turn in the testing tube to the reception desk with your information written on the provided sticker.

The one thing Seiji says you should be careful of is to not imitate the illustration when adding saliva to the tube! Seiji’s straw fell to the bottom of the testing tube because he wasn’t holding it with his hands, and it got a bit stuck to the bottom…

Once you’ve turned in your test tube successfully, you’ll receive your results via email by midnight the following day. Seiji’s results took 26 hours to get to him.

▼ Thankfully, his results were 陰性 (insei), which means he tested negative for COVID-19!

Should you test positive according to the Akihabara PCR Test Center (written like 陽性, or yousei), though, keep in mind that it is not an official diagnosis. You should always follow up with a medical institution to get a formal test.

So whether you want to get a PCR test done without going to the doctor’s office or you’re just curious about whether or not you have COVID-19, Seiji recommends stopping by this test center! It took a light load off his shoulders to know he doesn’t have the virus. And if you’d rather not be around the crowds of Akihabara, consider a quiet temple vending machine instead!

Photos ©SoraNews24
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