While Japan does have rough guidelines for accessible hotel rooms, they are nowhere near as strict as the United States or Europe. Because of this, the “accessible rooms” listed by hotels can vary wildly – from huge spacious rooms with hospital like bathrooms, to rooms that are only slightly different than a normal room and make you wonder “is this really the accessible room?”
One area of major concern for people who have disabilities is the bath/shower area.
Roll-in showers are very uncommon in Japan. Often the only hotels with a roll-in shower are expensive American hotels. However, Toyoko Inn – a budget hotel chain – has a room called “Heartful Room Type B” that has a separate bath/shower area with a roll in shower.
Traditionally, most hotels have “unit-baths” which are pre-fabricated bathrooms where the bath/shower and toilet are made from a single material in a factory. This type of construction prevents water leaking out of the unit and has some sort of floor drain.
This is where a disability lifehack comes in.
For those who cannot get into the bathtub and need a roll-in shower but couldn’t book a hotel with one, the unit-bath’s drain and waterproof design mean that it is possible to use a shower chair outside of the bathtub. The showers have a removeable shower head, so, you can shower anywhere in the bathroom without worrying about water leaking out!
Obviously, this is not an ideal situation. Since it isn’t the intended use of the bathroom, they layout may mean that you will need to put the shower chair in less than ideal locations at times (ie far from the shower hose or a place with no wall to balance against) and transferring can be a challenge. It also impossible without the help of a personal care assistant to adjust the shower.
So, even if Japan doesn’t have ADA-level hotel accessibility, with a little creativity you can still smell nice! We at Accessible Japan have tested this out many times!
Accessible Japan has an ever-growing database of hotels with accessible rooms – be sure to check it out and tell others! If you are planning on visiting Japan in the near future, please consider helping us out by providing pictures of the room you stay in so we can share it with others!