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    Hello Steve,

    I’ll start by saying that I am a wheelchair user and have previously designed houses for about 6-years in the United States. I assume because you’re posting on Accessible Japan that you’re building in Japan? So, if you’re looking for specific Japanese size units (e.g. exact door sizes), I do not know them but I will give you some minimum & recommended sizes in imperial units ( ‘ =feet & ” =inches) and try to convert them as accurately as possible to metric which should give you a good idea of what you’re asking for:

    • Hallways should be a minimum of 2′-8″ or 81.28 centimeters (this will barely allow for the minimum size doorway in such hallways).
    • Hallway size recommended if you have the space is 3′-0″ or 91.44 centimeters wide, or if you want a person and wheelchair to squeeze by 4′-0″ or 121.92 centimeters wide.
    • Doorways should be a minimum of 2′-6″ or 76.2 centimeters wide (this is the door size itself not counting the trim), this is tight for a bigger motorized wheelchair but passable.
    • Doorway size recommended if you have the space is 3′-0″ or 91.44 centimeters wide, the extra makes it much less likely to bump/scrape the door, however if there’s a hallway immediately after the door, the hallway will need to be about 3′-4″ (101.6 centimeters) or wider.
    • Thresholds at doorways should be as minimal as possible, usually only an issue at exterior doors, and little-to-no steps at exterior doors where possible (if required: maybe a couple centimeters or best option is to have a gentle slope).
    • Bath if you plan to have a lift capable of putting a person in a tub from a wheelchair, standard tubs can work, just make sure to install plenty of safety handrails. Nevertheless, standard tubs may not be wide enough for a shower chair that may be used commonly to wash up (shower space recommended).
    • Shower space is recommended ideally a minimum 2′-6″ (76.2 centimeters) by 5′-0″ (152.4 centimeters) space or bigger (especially if the wheelchair user needs a caregiver to help wash), Japanese baths often have a space beside the tub with a floor-drain that works as a shower space, but make sure the door (if any) is big enough to easily get into shower area and the door swings outward away from the shower space (if someone fell in front of the shower door you wouldn’t be able to open it if it swings in where the person is).
    • Shower additional recommendation, if you are planning a dedicated shower space that will be tiled, have them drop down that floor space by about 4″ (10.16 centimeters), this way you can slope the area to the drain and have no step up into the shower (no threshold), especially useful when using a shower chair with wheels.
    • Bathroom sink should be a floating sink with no cabinets under it so a person in a wheelchair can park under it and wash.
    • Bathroom toilet, you may want to install grab bars that swing up out of the way.
    • Bathroom space ideally you should have a 5′-0″ (152.4 centimeters) diameter circle of empty space so a wheelchair can turn around in the bathroom, this may not be possible because of size constraints so you may want to try to keep a 3′-0″ (91.44 centimeters) wide space in front of toilets and sinks for minimal accessibility.
    • Kitchen spaces don’t have a lot of options for wheelchair users, nevertheless if you have a walkway between cabinets I recommend it be 3′-6″ or 106.68 centimeters wide, this is not only accessible but typically accommodates two people (standing) to work in the space back to back. You could also have no cabinets under the sink for wheelchair access (though usually people want the cabinet space), but I would never recommend having no cabinets under a cook-top (if someone in a wheelchair is sitting with chair under cook-top and a spill of hot oil occurs, it could easily cause life threatening burns on the torso and below).

    I think I covered everything you were asking about, if I missed something let me know.

    I hope that helps,


    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Hi there, I will be custom designing and building a 1 story home in 2020/2021.
    I am looking for hallway, doorways, bath, bathroom, toilet and kitchen measurements for wheelchair accessibility.

    Any help or leads Greatly appreciated!


    1 user thanked author for this post.


    A lot of the streets around my neighbourhood are like that.  As Schroth Sensei mentioned, they are quite safe – though you should always exercise caution, especially at corners!  I prefer them because I can move more freely in my power wheelchair.

    To answer your question about entering stores/restaurants etc, it can be hit or miss.  One of the reason for steps at entrances is to keep rain water out.  So, if there is no sidewalk, there needs to be elevation at the building and therefore a step.  So, restaurants/shops on sidewalks are less likely to have a step.  The counter-point is that since the owner doesn’t need to worry about blocking a sidewalk, they have more freedom to build a ramp. So, in terms of shopping/eating it is hard to say one is better than the other.

    2 users thanked author for this post.


    On my trips to Japan I used a few streets like this, they had mostly people on them where their was shops and rarely any cars. Note that my perspective is from using a manual wheelchair when I visited. One instance that I recall with a car coming down the street wasn’t much of an issue,  saw from a distance the crowd politely parting for a slow moving car, so I positioned my wheelchair off to the side (most roads like this have at least enough room on the side for a person/wheelchair) and it passed by without issue. Never really had issues with cars in general in Japan, actually everyone seems to follow the rules pretty thoroughly.

    I’d say either option is pretty safe and I’ve found most people pretty polite and courteous (very courteous in fact, I’ve bumped people with my wheelchair in crowds and they have apologized quicker then I could!).

    Sometimes these shared streets are better then roads with sidewalks, if only to avoid going up/down curbs, but rural sidewalks can be very hit or miss for usefulness because of design or disrepair. Although sidewalks in the bigger city areas are very nice, and expensive areas even have wider sidewalks (then it’s just the crowds you’re contending with). Navigating wasn’t too difficult, but if you use a wheelchair you may need a little patients to work through larger crowds, so plan a little extra time when possible.

    Personally, the large train stations were the most difficult to navigate at first, but after using them a couple times it became no big deal. So, I wouldn’t stress over the roads to much. Anyway, I hope that helps,


    3 users thanked author for this post.

    Thanks so much, the Help Mark seems to be what we need.  There will be another couple that will be traveling with us who could use help and a wheelchair.  This information is great to know before we start our trip so we can make our plans to include the necessary time to inquire and locate the cards.  Thanks again.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Hello all,

    Josh, thank you for creating this great resource.

    I am a Canadian and I am interested in living/working in Japan.  I have a young child and wife who is disabled.

    My wife has a form of muscular dystrophy. As a result, she has to use a power wheelchair and has limited mobility. Therefore, I have a few questions:

    – If  I was working in Japan full time, would my wife be able to have a caretaker / personal support worker help her? If yes, how much would it cost to employ a caretaker?

    – If my wife were to get sick, would she entitled to hospital care or would there be fees associated with hospital visits? If yes, could you provide an estimate of how much staying in a hospital would cost?

    – If I obtained a job, for example, as an English Teacher, would my child and wife automatically qualify for a visa as well?

    Thank you,


    2 users thanked author for this post.
    AvatarAccessible Japan


    Had to look this up!  It seems that some stations (ie big ones like Tokyo etc) have wheelchairs you can use within the station.  But, smaller stations may not.  So, you will need to keep that in mind. (Likely all stations have a wheelchair somewhere in case a passenger is unwell, but the smaller stations may not have them readily/easily available.)

    You will also need to be sure you arrive with plenty of time.  In general, using a wheelchair can require more time, but borrowing the station’s wheelchair may take longer as it may be in use, or it may be in a storage room etc.

    Most importantly, you might want to get a Help Mark lanyard to make explaining your request go smoother.  Check out this link: https://www.accessible-japan.com/forums/topic/tag-for-those-with-invisible-illnesses/

    Hope that helps :)


    I am not bound to a wheelchair but with MS and other medical complications, I would like to have the use of a wheelchair while at the station to use from entry into the station until I board the train.  Are there any options for temporary use of a wheelchair?

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Hi Justin!

    I studied at Arc Academy Osaka for 9 months. It was a very nice experience. The teachers, in general, were quite nice (I’d say around 70% were good, 20% were ok and 10% were pretty bad), though the methodology was quite standard. Grammar, kanji, reading, listening, conversation and pronunciation. I think that most academies work the same in Japan, though. Personally, from third grade on I found that kanji study took a lot of time and was a bit overwhelming if you wanted to have time for other activities during the week, which is totally recommended to practice your Japanese. We learned 8 new kanji per day and we had weekly exams on how to read them and how to write them. However, if your main goal during the year is learning Japanese, then it’s the way to go (plus the extra conversation practice that you’ll have to find outside the school). Classes were in the afternoon for lower levels and in the morning for upper levels, though it may have changed.

    As for accessibility it was pretty good. They have a ramp at the entrance (though it leads to automatic doors and sometimes I had to wait for someone to come in or out to be sure that they’d open). The ramp was quite steep, but I think that on an electric chair it should be safe.

    Inside it’s a bit narrow, but feasible I’d say. My chair is quite narrow and short, but I think that a normal sized wheelchair should be ok too. Actually, they were really nice and put me on the biggest classroom all the time, so they can make this kind of arrangement even if usually each group changes classrooms everyday. I’m sure that they’d rearrange the tables too, if needed be. There was a step (less than 10cm) just after the reception too and they put a very small ramp so that it’d be easier to climb. Anyway, they were very kind, so I’m sure they’d be happy to hear from you.

    As for accessibility in the surrounding area it’s very good. There’s train and subway both accessible, though the elevator entrance for the subway is a bit far away (around 600m I’d say). There are also accessible combini and restaurants nearby, so it’s a pretty convenient location. Personally, I think that Osaka is a nice place to live and a bit cheaper than Tokyo. When I have the chance, I’ll definitely go back!

    Regarding helpers, Osaka city definitely offers helpers for disabled people, though, as I didn’t have the “shogaisha techou”, I was not entitled to any. Actually, I volunteered as an English teacher in an association that managed the helper service for Suminoe Ward. I’d definitely recommend doing the paperwork to get the “techou”. With the student visa you’re entitled to, so it’s just a matter of time. I was a bit at a loss when I got there and once I finally got to know how to do it more or less, I decided not to do it as I’d have gotten the certificate just a month or two before going back.

    Anyway, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Here’s the link to the school’s site:


    Take care!

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    Hi there. I work in the tourism industry in Kyoto and while I personally cannot offer any tours at this time, I wanted to share a few points:

    Consider renting wheelchairs. Maybe even just one and you and your husband can take turns at each destination so you can rest while still sightseeing. There is much more walking required here than you expect. As mentioned above, even just going through a major train stations like Tokyo or Kyoto could be an ordeal. The sightseeing locations are similarly spread out. It’s not uncommon for temples and shrines to feature loooooong walkways up the entrance, plenty of stairs, gravel paths, and high thresholds in gates and doorways. Please consider all of this. There is nothing wrong with being in a wheelchair here, and staff at sightseeing locations will be happy to accommodate you as much as they can, but remember that things are a bit different here. Something that seems like “can you just help me a bit with something simple” may simply go against the rules here. And rules are not bent often in Japan. Be patient, observant, and respectful and the locals will return the favor. Also, you need to accept that there will be many, many places that are off limits to wheelchairs. The good news is that there are many, many places that are accessible, as I’m sure you’ve found on this website :)

    I think you should look into touring with a guide and private vehicle. My recommendation would be http://privatetour-kyoto.com/ehome.htm The owner of that business is extremely caring and patient, and if he is available to help you I know he will do all he can to make you comfortable. He uses his own vehicle for touring so you don’t need to worry about public transport. Only a highly experienced guide like that will be able to put together a realistic (unfortunately short) list of sightseeing locations that will be appropriate for your needs. Don’t just go with anyone.

    Also, please think about how often you will be taking your shoes off here, and decide if that will be an issue. Let your guide know ahead of time if removing your shoes and walking in socks will be painful or time consuming. If you end up somewhere that requires you to remove your shoes, you need to accept that you have two options: remove your shoes, or don’t go in. Do not be stubborn and insist upon entry, even if it’s a medical issue. Please please please do NOT choose to die upon that hill. I have seen visitors refuse to remove their shoes, get angry, and then the Japanese are SO kind that they sometimes will let the guests in anyway. It puts the hosts in a very awkward position to have to refuse entry, and they really do hate to say “No” here. I don’t think you would do this as you are obviously careful and thoughtful in your concerns, but I just wanted to put that out there. Just simply let your guide know if you cannot remove your shoes early on and there will be no problem!

    As mentioned in a previous post, there are very few public benches and places to sit here. It’s very strange. Even train stations will maybe only have one small bench for an entire platform if you’re lucky. You may be tempted to stop and rest on a low wall or steps, but please be aware that sitting on something that isn’t made for sitting can be seen as poor manners here. Sitting on the steps of a temple or shrine is even worse. Of course, for medical reasons exceptions can be made, but be observant about what the locals are doing and where they’re (not) sitting.

    Finally, maybe you should invest in some of those canes that fold out into a small tripod stool. I see elderly folks with those here occasionally and they look quite handy. Something like this: https://www.top5reviewed.com/folding-cane-seats/

    I hope my straightforward tone isn’t insulting. I think it’s important to be honest about the realities of what it’s like here for disabled travelers. Keep an open mind and be patient and you’ll have a great trip!

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    Also the distance you will need to walk to catch the trains are absurdly long, especially if you need an elevator, so another reason you may want a wheelchair for the trip even if you don’t need it in your everyday life. Also if you rent the chair, rent an extra battery. You will be putting a lot of mileage on it because everything is so spread out!

    2 users thanked author for this post.
    AvatarAccessible Japan


    Annatated, thank you for your excellent suggestion!  It is also great to hear that it was welcomed at various tourist sites.  The wheelchair rental suggestion is also great.

    Cookeh, to go through your other questions:

    1. As mentioned, the Dr note or Help Mark lanyard would clear up any confusion.  Additionally, Japan doesn’t really have any public drunkenness laws to worry about.  In fact it is so common that people would either not notice, or offer to help (particularly the police).
    2. As Annatated mentioned, there is the “Help Mark” lanyard.  They are free and don’t need any paperwork.  Check out this post for more info and how to get one: https://www.accessible-japan.com/forums/topic/tag-for-those-with-invisible-illnesses/
    3. You could rent a wheelchair as Annatated mentioned, or maybe get some sort of camping stool like this: https://amzn.to/3gp6fcJ .  In combination with the Help Mark, I don’t think there should be an issue.
    4. Public benches are very rare outside of parks and most/many tourist sites do not have places to rest (though they are increasing).   So, bringing something or renting a wheelchair would be best.
    5. For Tokyo, the organizer of this day tour is very accommodating.  Just let them know your needs in advance and they can adjust the tour.  I may have a lead for Kyoto…
    6. We’ll see if we can find someone!
    1 user thanked author for this post.

    The Japanese are very rule oriented. They also don’t speak much English so verbal explanations will be very hardIhard. have a blatantly obvious disability and use a wheelchair and I was asked for proof to buy discounted disability tickets to attractions. I knew this going in, so I had my doctor sign a note explaining my disability in both English and Japanese (used Google translate and had a friend in Japan double check) and put it on her letterhead. I then had it laminated at Staples and took it everywhere I went, to deep appreciation by all staff I encountered. You should do the same, it will save a lot of hassle. Also the Japanese have a badge with a symbol for invisible disability. I was waiting for the Osaka Castle elevator and a woman with an invisible disability also waiting showed it to me so I wouldn’t think she was scamming the elevator system lol.  You can read about it here: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/217/

    Also if you tire easily, you may be better off just renting a wheelchair for the trip. The trains are incredibly accessible and easy to use to get around. I was able to rent a Whill in Tokyo and it’s a ridiculously low monthly fee – something like 15,000 yen for a whole month.

    2 users thanked author for this post.


    My partner and I have hidden disabilities, we are ambulant and don’t use wheelchairs. I suffer from chronic pain in my spine which makes walking and queuing extremely painful after more than a few minutes. My partner has Ataxia, a rare condition which affects balance, coordination and fine motor skills which causes him extreme difficulty with stairs and uneven surfaces under foot. Often his condition is mistaken for being drunk due to his unsteady gait. We live in Scotland, UK, and neither of us has any official disability ID. I have a few questions I hope someone could help with please?

    1. What would happen if a Japanese official, or other worker, suspects my partner is drunk? Given the language barrier how do we make it known he has a disability?

    2. Does Japan have a symbol you can wear that discretely indicates to people you have a hidden disability? For example, here in the UK we have a sunflower lanyard we can wear around our neck. These are becoming more widely recognised and it helps convey to staff the need for assistance without having to explain the disability repeatedly.

    3. As we can both walk, albeit for a very short distance only, how can we explain we have hidden disabilities while using public transport or attending a tourist attraction etc in order that we may be provided with a seat for waiting? Is it worth bringing a fold up chair of some sort and carrying it around to different sites? Would we even be allowed in with such an item?

    4. With regards to the main tourist attractions, are there plenty of places to sit and rest, say in the grounds surrounding castles and temples, or in museums? The research I’ve done so far doesn’t seem to show much in the way of seating but that may be due to aesthetics so I wanted to check.

    5. Are there any day trip operators in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka that are hidden disability friendly? We want to take advantage of day trips but are worried that a lot of walking may be involved at the destination but that we won’t be able to convey the problem without a wheelchair.

    6. Does anyone have any general advice with regards to visiting Japan with hidden/mobility disabilities?

    Many thanks for your help, any and all advice greatly received.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Topic: Arima Onsen

    in forum Hyogo

    Arima Onsen is said to be Japan’s oldest hot spring (also known as onsen) towns with over 1000 years of history, and it’s located in the heart of Hyogo prefecture. This place is known as one of Japan’s top three hot spring resorts. Although the main attractions are the onsens, the tiny town of Arima is a lovely place to explore, shop, and visit some temples if one shies away from going to an onsen. Any season is wonderful to see, but cherry blossom season (sakura) is a specially wonderful time of the year to see cherry blossoms, take scenic photos, and explore the beauty of old town.


    The best way (inexpensive and taking time into consideration) to get to Arima is by taking a highway bus from Kyoto, Osaka, or Sannomiya, or even from Universal Studios Japan. See this link for the time table and the costs from each location: https://matcha-jp.com/en/4072. Please call in advance to check if the highway bus is accessible, and able to support your needs. If not, it is also possible to take train(s) (but it will be slightly more expensive, and take longer to get there). If the bus is empty the day and time you will be departing, you may get a ticket right then, but sometimes, the bus is full, so it’s best to reserve a week in advance (with a discount included!).

    The location, although worth seeing at least once in one’s lifetime isn’t too wheelchair-friendly. If you are lucky, there might not be too many people, but the paths are narrow and crooked, and difficult to get through. Secondly, in order to go to a few temples or famous scenic spots, one must climb a flight of stairs, and probably no alternative is available. There is a park that one can get to that doesn’t require stairs, but a upward slope is a difficult one, but doable with some help.

    One of the wonders of Arima Onsen is the wonder of the Golden springs. They are known for their reddish-brown hue, and are super beneficial for health and relieving pain. The water is known to help improve hypersensitivity to cold, as well as muscle and joint aches, and due to the high concentration of salt, helps the body retain heat, and is considered to be good for burns, cuts and skin problems. The water is clear, however due to its high iron content, when in contact with air, it oxidizes and changes color. It is very relaxing, and especially during the cold seasons in Japan, very soothing.


    Several of shops are souvenir shops, and the ones that advertise their specialized, local cookies offer free samples in various delicious flavors, such as plain, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, green tea, and so forth. They are more like rice crackers than cookies, but they are simply amazing, and a great souvenir to buy, or try some free samples of!



    Another sweet dessert that is offered (with the Arima rice crackers included — in bits or whole) is the homemade gelato from an ice-cream store. The unique aspect of this shop is that the milk used for the gelato is from the Mount Rokko dairy farm.


    Being very compact, it is easily to explore the place thoroughly in a few hours — and maybe even go to an onsen or two! It is quite possible to go to Arima Onsen and then take a trip to Mt. Rokko on the same day.


    Website/Image(s) Sources:




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