An English Doctor in Japan
Gabriel Symonds

An English Doctor in Japan

This entertaining memoir takes the reader at pace through Dr Gabriel Symonds’s unusual career as an English doctor in Japan, but there is much to his story before he got there: hitch-hiking to India on leaving school, disturbing incidents in the dissecting room at medical school, the antics of an eccentric bisexual fellow student, trials of life as a junior hospital doctor, attack by a drunken Irish colleague, and work in ‘heartsink’ general practices in deprived areas of London.

Life in Japan is equally eventful, and includes encounters with incompetent physicians and a Japanese surgeon known as ‘the butcher’.

This is contrasted with the ‘ideal’ practice he eventually set up, the Tokyo British Clinic, where we meet a host of colourful characters: minor royalty, a clutch of ambassadors, visiting pop singers, and a famous pianist—as well as many ordinary patients with extraordinary stories.
Published: October 2020
Paperback: 268 pages
Price: £12.00
ISBN: 9-781913-425432

£12.00 (+ £2.50 postage)
Number of copies:

Available on Amazon

Of particular interest are Dr Symonds’s perhaps outspoken views on general check-ups, statins, animal experiments, psychiatry, and smoking.

Although it may raise a few hackles, he does not shy away from discussing controversial issues such as circumcision, female genital mutilation, and his critical observations on terminal care in Japanese hospitals.


5 out of 5 stars What is your doctor really thinking?
Reviewed in Japan on December 14, 2020
Verified Purchase
I've always wondered what goes on inside the head of a physician. Obviously professional ethics prevents them from discussing patients and their problems by name. But Dr. Gabriel Symonds has found a way to tell his story while maintaining confidentiality, and it's quite a story. Only a small number of foreign physicians have practiced medicine in Japan during the post-WW2 period, and even fewer (if any) have spun together such an informative package. Symonds, a London native, has strong feelings about various aspects of diagnosis and treatment, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to discussing shortcomings of the Japanese health care system. The result is a book that is inspiring, entertaining and enlightening. What's more, An English Doctor in Japan turned out to be a great read while stuck at home during the pandemic!