A place to rest your feet and contemplate life on the Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto.
Jan Grisdale – friend and supporter of Accessible Japan – shares her thoughts on travelling to Japan in her silver years. It is important to remember that accessibility is not just for those with disabilities, but can be beneficial to those of many walks of life – from young families with baby strollers to couples enjoying their silver and golden years.
Let me begin by saying I love to travel, from the planning, to hanging out at the airport, boarding and flying, to the excitement of each day and all the new things I will discover.
My first trip was a solo trip when I was just 16. I went on a 2.5 hr flight within my home country of Canada to visit a friend who had moved with her family. The bug to see and experience new things has never left me. When the kids were younger and money tighter we always found a way to go somewhere and do something new and exciting.
As empty nesters my husband and I have taken the opportunity to travel extensively. Our bucket list of places to go, include Canada and abroad. Getting older affords you more time, money and fewer restrictions requiring us stay close to home. I envision us travelling on into our elder years (past senior)
Travelling as a senior does mean ensuring you have good travel insurance as you don’t want to get sick and have to cancel flights or get sick while away and have huge bills. We also find ourselves being a bit fussier about where we stay and just how adventurous we will be. We are thankful that we still love to walk a good part of our holiday trips and prefer our own planning over doing a tour.
One of our favourite places to visit is Japan. We were first introduced to the country by our son, 15 years ago. We have visited many times and continue to love the country. We speak no Japanese and yet have little difficulty communicating our needs and finding our way. There always seems to be someone who either speaks enough English to help out or enough to understand what we need to know. We have found the Japanese people to be so respectful of us as seniors and as foreigners.
I love Japanese food, my husband not quite so much but he is always able to find some of his favourites. We have no problem in restaurants as everything seems to have pictures and if you have difficulty with chopsticks you can always ask for a ‘forku’ (fork)
I have travelled to Japan, on my own, with a friend and with my husband. I have never felt unsafe. Some ask how could I take all the crowded streets and trains and if I felt nervous in big crowds? I don’t feel that way, maybe because I love to ‘people watch’ – kids going to and from school, parents of little ones, others going to work and appointments. On trains I have never felt too squished. Train stations can seem overwhelming but again there is someone there to help with ticket or send you to the right platform AND I love the efficiency of train travel. If stairs are an issue for you, especially with crowds there are lots of stations with elevators – they are not just for people using wheelchairs. Pavement is in good shape everywhere so no worries about tripping or cobblestone streets. There are lots of places to sit and take a rest in parks, at temples etc. Washrooms are everywhere and clean! One of my trips was with a friend who has arthritis. She found walking in Tokyo so much easier than in Korea.
We have been to many of the most popular places to see. I particularly love the city of Kyoto and the Philosopher’s Walk. It is a big city but there are so many serene parks and walks. We hope our next trip will take us north to Hokkaido. There is so much to do and see in this great country.
Have you visited Japan as a silver traveler? Or perhaps you have navigated the busy train stations with a baby stroller and benefited from a ramp or elevator. We would love to hear your story! Please get in contact with us.