Pregnancy,  Second Trimester

Anatomy Scan & 4D Ultrasound in Japan

Although anatomy scans are routine in North America, it’s not commonly done in Japan. However, if you want to get an anatomy scan and a 3D/4D ultrasound, it is available and not that costly. 

Anatomy Scan in Japan

Anatomy scans are detailed ultrasounds that are usually done at 20 weeks and test for any anomalies in the baby’s development. 

When we asked our clinic about it, it turned out that we could have the scan done for an additional cost and would not be covered by any of the prenatal coupons we received from the city office. As we had decided to give birth at the clinic and already put down our deposit, we paid half the price for the scan, so 10,000 yen instead of 20,000 yen. The clinic only offered anatomy scans on Wednesdays, which was fine for us, and was usually done after 20 weeks.

We went for the anatomy scan when I was 24 weeks along and it consisted of a detailed ultrasound done by a specialist doctor. I was not given any particular instructions on what to eat or drink beforehand. The doctor took various measurements, which included:

  • the baby’s crown
  • the brain (left and right hemispheres)
  • the heart and its chambers as well as the circulation of blood (considerable time was spent on this)
  • the kidneys
  • the spinal cord
  • femur length 
  • the feet and hands
  • any signs of genetic anomalies such as cleft lip
  • the placenta and umbilical cord

As it was a detailed ultrasound, the quality was much better than the ones we usually got. We were also able to confirm the gender (I felt a bit bad zooming in on that area but it was a relief to know that there wouldn’t be any surprises when the baby is born). The entire process took about 20 minutes and the scan itself was done in about 14 minutes, which on average seems to be a bit shorter than the time usually taken in North America (from what I’ve heard from North American moms). 

Overall, as genetic testing (such as NIPT or CVS) is also not usually done in Japan for women under 35 and usually costs over 100,000 yen, we were very satisfied with the anatomy scan and relieved that the baby was healthy.

3D/4D Ultrasounds in Japan 

3D/4D ultrasounds are a great way to see how your baby may look like when they’re born and make for a wonderful memento. Of course, these ultrasounds are usually at an additional cost. We were a bit weary about whether it justified the cost but my husband’s cousin, who is a labor and delivery nurse and also pregnant, highly recommended we try it. Our 4D ultrasound set us back 10,000 yen but it was well worth it and included a USB containing a video of the entire ultrasound.  

You can get a 4D ultrasound after 12 weeks although the results will be better when the baby is more developed and has fat on them. (The chubbier the cheeks, the better!) We decided to get one at 28 weeks. Similar to the anatomy scan, we could only schedule the 4D ultrasound on Wednesdays and ended up seeing the same doctor, who is very good at the ultrasound aspect of his job but couldn’t give us any advice regarding my pregnancy pains.


We were a bit surprised that the 4D ultrasound involved simply flipping a switch on the usual machine and that only one doctor was qualified to do it. Then again, it was not so easy to get a good look at the baby’s face and the doctor had to maneuver the transducer in many ways in order to get a good angle. (He may have also lightly tapped by stomach with it to get the baby to move and although it didn’t hurt, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.)

The baby was positioned sideways and seemed quite cosy in a very narrow area of my uterus. She was also covering her face with one hand, something she had done for at least two other ultrasounds. In an attempt to get her to move her arm, I asked the doctor if I could drink some orange juice and he agreed. After gulping it down, she moved enough that we were able to get some nice video shots of her little sleeping and slightly disgruntled face. (I don’t mean to be biased but wow, she was absolutely precious.) She also yawned at one point, which was adorable. My husband remarked that it didn’t feel real that he was becoming a father until he saw the 4D ultrasound.

Admittedly, I do find some of the 4D ultrasound kind of unsettling, particularly the pink goop practically dripping off the baby but overall, my husband and I love having the video of the 4D ultrasound and we still look at it almost every week. I really wonder whether she will turn out looking like she does in the ultrasound or if her face will change. Only time will tell, and if all goes according to plan, that’s in 8 weeks! 

As a final note on 4D ultrasounds, some clinics will allow you to come back for free if you’re able to see your baby’s face as it’s common for babies to cover their face in the womb. So if you have some spare yen, why not try it?

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  • Breanna Wilson

    Hi! Currently living in Ayase City and I’m looking to get a 4D US done with no anatomy scan. We also don’t know the gender yet! I’ll be 18 weeks on this Wednesday. I see that you’ve mentioned that it’s avaible after 12 weeks gestation, and for ¥10000, correct? Just wondering where this clinic is so that I can schedule to get it done. Thanks!

    • Kay

      Hi Breanna!

      Congratulations on your baby! This clinic is Toho Clinic in Kiba.

      The Google reviews aren’t that great but I’ve had nothing but good experiences here so try it out if it’s not too far for you. It’s also one of the few clinics that lets you make an appointment.
      The cost was ¥10,000 and as you’re almost 18 weeks, you should be able to have it done.

      I hope this helps!

  • roxyk

    I am just shy of 20 weeks now, but my next appointment will be at 23 weeks. I am interested in asking about the anatomy scan and 4D scan (my clinic did a 4d but of the baby’s back so it was short). Would you be willing to share the Japanese term for anatomy scan and 4d scan? That may make things easier!

    • Kay Awa

      Congratulations and thank you so much for your comment!

      4D ultrasound in Japanese is called 4Dエコー (フォーディーエコー / fooa dee e-ko) (Try to use katakana pronunciation when saying 4D because I’ve found people get confused otherwise) OR 4D超音波 (フォーディ ちょうおんぱ / fooa dee choonpa)

Anatomy scan in Japanese is called 超音波スクリーニング検査 (ちょうおんぱスクリーニングけんさ/choonpa sukuriningu kensa) (my clinic also called this 胎児超音波検査(たいじちょうおんぱけんさ / taiji choonpa kensa). You can see that it also has the word choonpa just like the 4D ultrasound does as choonpa means ultrasound in Japanese. Kensa is examination and taiji means fetus.

      If you want to ask the clinic about either or both of the tests above, just say, “「TEST NAME」ができますか”.

      I hope this helped and please let me know if you have any more questions.

      This was also a really great question, I’ll try to make sure to include more Japanese terms in my future posts. 

  • Lee kwong

    i m 11week pragnant n e body tell me how much charges on delivery time + if i go checkup or visit charges estimate?

  • ultrasound specialist

    Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up.

  • Megumi Kinoshita

    Hi! i’m currently at 26weeks is it possible to know the baby’s gender through 4D Ultrasound?

    • Kay

      Hi Megumi!
      I believe you should be able to know the gender at 26 weeks through 4D — the best thing to do is ask your doctor!

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