Japan, a country known for its rich culture, advanced technology, and breathtaking landscapes, is increasingly becoming a destination of choice for travelers from all around the world. But if you’re a wheelchair user, you might wonder how accessible Japan really is. Let’s dive into various aspects of traveling to and within Japan from an accessibility standpoint.

Getting to Japan

Your adventure begins with getting to Japan. The major airports offer great accessibility, both physically and in terms of service. The staff are extremely polite and helpful and will take you from your plane to your wheelchair and possibly even to your train. Wheelchairs are treaded with care and damage is very rare (on the Japan-side). The airports are connected to the city via various accessible rail options. However, it’s important to note that accessible airport transfer buses are a rarity in Japan. The new JapanTaxis pay an homage to the Black Cabs of London and are designed to accommodate wheelchairs, however larger power wheelchairs might face some limitations in fitting comfortably and lift-equipped wheelchair vans might be a better option for those hoping to use a car.

Getting Around Japan

Once you’re in Japan, navigating the country is a crucial part of your journey. The good news is that Japan’s trains and subways, as well as the famous Shinkansen (bullet train) are quite accessible to wheelchair users. Over 95% of the train stations in Tokyo are accessible and most stations in other urban centers have accessible routes, and staff are very helpful and ready to assist with boarding and alighting with portable ramps. This makes exploring different cities and regions in Japan both convenient and enjoyable for travelers with mobility needs.

A man in a power wheelchair is going up a portable ramp placed by a staff member who helps push him into a subway

Finding a Place to Stay

When it comes to accommodation, it’s important to be proactive. Although Japan is making strides in accessibility, the number of accessible hotel rooms remains limited compared to other countries. Even hotels with accessible rooms might require you to book them by phone or through the messaging feature on booking sites instead of directly. It’s advisable to start your hotel search using the Accessible Japan hotel section, which provides curated information to aid in finding suitable accommodations.

Seeing the Sights

Visiting tourist attractions is a highlight of any trip, and in Japan, more and more sites, including historic ones, are becoming accessible. Many places have added ramps and elevators to accommodate visitors in wheelchairs. However, it’s worth noting that challenges still exist, particularly at temples, shrines, and Japanese gardens, where you might encounter gravel paths, large stones, or steps. But don’t let this deter you – with a bit of planning, these sites can still be a memorable part of your Japanese adventure. Be sure to check out the attractions we have reviewed as you plan your trip.

Digging into Japanese Cuisine

Japanese cuisine is an integral part of the travel experience, and the good news is that Japan is becoming more accessible for wheelchair users in this aspect as well. Restaurants, including those serving traditional Japanese food, are starting to be more wheelchair-friendly. However, since many of the restaurants in Japan tend to be in small, older buildings there is often a step and there may not be enough room to use your wheelchair comfortably. It’s always a good idea to check in advance when planning your culinary adventures. Read more tips on enjoying Japan’s cuisine here and of course check out these chopstick helpers so you can impress everyone.

Accessible Toilets

One aspect of travel that can be a big concern for travelers using a wheelchair is the availability of accessible toilets. In Japan, this is less of a worry. “Multipurpose toilets,” which are unisex toilets designed to cater to various needs, including those of wheelchair users, are plentiful and well-maintained across the country. These facilities are typically clean and well-equipped, ensuring comfort and convenience for travelers with disabilities.

A large accessible toilet is available in the lobby. It has a sink, toilet with backrest and hand rails, ostomate cleaning sink, and facilities for changing baby diapers.

Find Out More

For more detailed information and tips on traveling in Japan with accessibility needs, please be sure to make the most of our many resources – we offer extensive insights into accessibility across various aspects of travel in Japan. Additionally, if you have specific questions or want to connect with others who have traveled to Japan, consider joining the Japan group on tabifolk, where you can share experiences and get advice from fellow travelers.

In conclusion, Japan is steadily moving towards being a wheelchair-friendly destination. While there are still areas that need improvement, the progress made so far is commendable. With the right planning and resources like Accessible Japan, your trip can be both enjoyable and memorable. We at Accessible Japan are enthusiastic about helping you make your journey unforgettable and look forward to welcoming you back again to explore more of what this beautiful country has to offer. Japan is not just a travel destination; it’s an experience waiting to embrace you, wheelchair and all!

Want to come visit Japan now? Let us know by leaving a comment below or come find us on tabifolk @accessiblejapan!

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