We love helping people enjoy Japan. We also love it when people write back to share their experiences with others, so they too can enjoy their time in Japan. Recently, Reba Finn and her son visited Tokyo and Osaka for a few weeks. Reba has Multiple Sclerosis and uses a walking stick, but decided to rent an electric wheelchair to make it easier to get around. Here is what she wanted to share with other Accessible Japan readers.
I found a great site called Accessible Japan via a Google search and contacted Josh to discuss hiring a wheelchair.
This is my 2nd trip to Tokyo. I travel with my son who is also my carer. I have a foot-drop on my left side and use a walking stick & wear a foot brace.
I learnt a few things from the last time. Tokyo is so busy with many underground station exits/platforms. I did attempt to walk but getting on trains manually – which are way too busy – there was a risk of falling. Unfortunately, not everyone will offer you a seat.
Josh from Accessible Japan ordered an electric wheelchair from a local company & we emailed back & forth to work out details. The company configured the wheelchair so the joystick was placed on the right side.
Mr Sato from a company called Pamuk delivered the electric wheelchair right to my hotel – Prince Hotel in Shinagawa. Total wheelchair rental cost = 33000 YEN, paid in cash.
Going forward – My son would go to the station information desk & organize a conductor to walk my son & I to the platform. My son speaks some Japanese which certainly helps. We were told where to wait & the train would stop & the conductor would get out the ramp.
I suggest that if you have a risk of falling for whatever reason to organise a wheelchair.
The streets are fabulous, I would drive on an angle to get over the low pavements.
Not all shops were wheelchair friendly, some smaller shops like Kinokuniya/Seven Eleven, you might be able to get in but are too crowded with displays at the end of aisles & there are people everywhere especially at Xmas time.
Department stores are great but waiting for the disabled elevator just takes too long most of the time. I suggest waiting for the one coming down or up.
We tried to get off a train in Osaka without a ramp, my poor son wheeled me off forward & the wheels got stuck between the platform & the gap. So many people assisted including the conductor.
The trains are very punctual as well.
The hotel was small but non-smoking & wheelchair friendly. It was small but the bathroom had a rail, so even though I had to step up into the shower, I managed. No rail for the toilet though.
Some areas not suitable, but we managed to find a different way.
Some shop assistants even moved shelves so I could get through.
The Shinkansen was a bit rushed but my chair fit down the aisle. Struggled to find somewhere for it when folded. There was no assistance – my carer did all this for me.
Osaka – the station was disability friendly but when we traveled down to Nara, we arrived in the dark. Some gutters were too high to get up, and there was gravel near one of the shrines. The car barriers were difficult to get through as well. There was not enough lighting so it was a bit dangerous. I had to end up walking but there were no disability rails.
If you have a disability and have traveled to Japan, we would love to share your story so it can help others plan their trip! Please get in touch via our contact form.