My name is Justin Schroth, I live with a disability called Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2D, which requires me to use a wheelchair for mobility as well as assistance from a caregiver for other daily needs. The purpose of this blog is to share what I have learned so that others in a comparable situation can experience Japan with less concerns in mind. 

My intention for a 90-day trip to Japan was part vacation, part exploration, and part local job hunting. While the first two parts were successful, the latter was not as successful as I hoped (but did provide opportunities for learning and networking). Nevertheless, the information here should be helpful to anyone living with a similar disability who wants to visit Japan for short or longer stays.

The information here has been organized into different sections that will tell parts of my story and hopefully alleviate concerns you may have about your next trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. Similar information may be found in various sections of Accessible Japan or tabifolk, and I will reference some of them here as the site may have useful details I may not have mentioned.

Lodging

Hotel prices in Japan can vary depending on how minimalistic you want to get, but for those who want to stay for more than a couple of weeks, with a kitchen and private bathroom, then it can add up quickly at hotel prices. I was looking for an accessible apartment style rental for a 90-day stay (maximum for a holiday visa), an hour by train from Tokyo at most, but without the high hotel prices. 

So began a long search through many realtor websites who manage rentals. To my dismay I discovered most of the big realtors only give long-term rental options, which means 1-year or more. I sent emails to rental companies, shared houses, and realtors directly asking if they had any rentals available for just 90-days that may be accessible. This returned almost no replies, but among the replies I received a message from OakHouse, a share house management company founded in 1992 (they have apartments too but emphasize sharing with neighbors and through events). They informed me about their Eda Apartments (a short distance from Eda Station on the Den-en-toshi commuter line) located in Yokohama that is mostly accessible via a ramp on the side of the building (note: the second floor is not because the elevator is no longer functional), with a restroom spacious enough for my needs (note: the property manager was quick via email to provide detailed measurements on request). 

Screenshot of the Oak Apartments website

As luck would have it, OakHouse also has very little required up-front fees, you can pay online with a US credit card, net & utilities mostly covered in rent (within a reasonable limit), and this property can be rented on a month-by-month basis. Beware this also means you cannot book too far out, may have to look about a month in advance, and you cannot be certain that there will be an opening available many months later unless you happen to know someone who is moving out. This may not be the best option for everyone, but due to the exchange rate and the monthly pricing it cost me less than $40 a day for a spacious apartment with a kitchen (total about 41.19m² or 442ft²). 

There are probably other options available (more for certain if you’re staying 1-year or longer), so if this doesn’t work or you want a different location, keep looking and ask rental companies directly for accessible options. Just keep in mind that that closer to the city center and/or easy access to train stations usually mean higher prices.

Travel Planning

When to Go

Planning time for the long trip was a necessity, however for me it all hinged on securing a place to stay. Because of other family matters I couldn’t secure a caregiver until later in the year (otherwise I would have ideally gone in Spring). Thus, deciding when to go was at first a general idea (i.e. July being the earliest to start, but probably later), so I began looking months before. After finding OakHouse I decided to book my start for the beginning of August and the following two months when it begins to cool in temperature. As expected, August was very hot, but from mid-September onwards the temperature and weather was perfect (luckily with minimal rainy days) for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Spring is probably the best time to go, however if you want to avoid the crowds of cherry blossom viewers and don’t mind the rain, then fall can be a nice alternative.

Booking a Flight

Immediately after securing my stay, I went to book my flight. There are many options for flying and your choices will depend on your starting locations’ distance to an international airport. You certainly want to do your research here, and have a few points I recommend checking on:

  • Seating options: If you don’t have a 1st class seating budget (I sure didn’t) then you may want to explore all the other limited options. Some planes have bulkhead seats with much more legroom and nearby restroom, these can also work very well for aisle chair transfers (if need be). Interestingly the bulkhead seats may also be blocked from regular booking on travel sites so you may need to call airlines directly. I sat at bulkhead seats to/from Japan, and it worked out very well (although the seat tray was very awkward to use).
  • Find and fill out a “Wheelchair handling information form” ahead of time: Delta Airlines has a form online (most airlines do) you can attach to your chair with information such as wheelchair size (LxWxH), weight, battery type, off switch location, manual controls, etc. Airline workers will need this to properly stow your wheelchair. Filling this out early and even attaching pictures will make checking-in to your flight much easier.
  • Some airlines may state wheelchair limit weight: We have noticed on tabifolk forums that some people have been mistakenly told a wheelchair limit of 100kg (220lbs.) by some airline companies. However, apparently this is a note about smaller planes and not bigger international flights. Nevertheless, you may want to speak with your airline if you have a heavy power wheelchair. From my personal experience, Delta did not have any issues with transporting my power wheelchair (425lbs.) on an international flight.
  • Cargo height limits: Unlike the weight limit above, the height of a power wheelchair with a tall back can be an issue on some planes. If you cannot fold or remove the back/headrest of your wheelchair for stowing, then confirm with your airline at booking if the height will be acceptable.
  • Fly direct if possible: I personally recommend this, I believe to minimize the chances of your wheelchair being damaged you want to have as few transfers between airplanes as possible. I flew out of Atlanta International direct to/from Japan, I didn’t find any noticeable damages, but I did lose a plastic cap and have some new scuff marks leading me to believe it wasn’t an easy ride either.

If you want more information about which airport in Japan to fly in to, the Accessible Japan’s Airport Accessibilitysection is a perfect place to start. I have personally been to both Narita and Haneda, each have exceptional customer service, insisting on helping with luggage, getting train tickets, and around the airport. If you’re looking at staying in Tokyo/Yokohama area, Haneda is the closest international airport and has easy access to some major train lines.

Bulkhead seats with extra legroom in an airplane

Length of Stay

If you have the option to stay for a long period in Japan, then determining how long to stay may depend on if you have a visa (e.g. Work or School visa obtained prior to visit). If you are going without one, then typically you can stay a maximum of 90 days with a passport. This is quite a bit of time and if you plan to explore just one area, like Tokyo and neighboring Yokohama, you can see a significant amount of popular and fun areas at a leisurely pace in a month, possibly everything you really want to see and experience. My plan was to visit one sight per day unless something was located immediately adjacent, this allows for more thorough exploration and time to find accessible dining options. This worked out well generally speaking, and I never really felt rushed in most situations.

Luggage and Packing

Once you know where and how long you plan to stay, it should be easier to pack your bags. If you rent a place like an apartment, then you may have access to a clothes washer and usually an outdoor clothesline to dry them (or actual dryer machine if you’re lucky). For washing supplies, supermarkets, convenience stores, or 100-yen stores (dollar stores) typically carry them and are inexpensive, so no need to pack them unless you have specific needs to do so (e.g. allergens, irritants, etc.). 

Then you just have to decide on how much luggage room for gifts and souvenirs you want to spare. Or you can completely overestimate the space you have, fill up your bags completely with gifts, then must buy a duffel bag and fill it with clothes that have been compressed in new vacuum space-bags. Which I may have done to the enjoyment of my friends who received their gifts, something to think about.

Restroom Adaptations

For my long stay I had to anticipate any toilet and shower needs I may have. I first recommend checking your room doors and facility sizes (OakHouse was very good via email about any questions I had about the property) prior to booking so you know what you must work with. 

For toilet needs I rented temporary toilet safety arm rails from a local company (shout out to @ohayotravel on tabifolk for helping me with the rental company and paperwork), a 90-day rental cost about as much as buying one new, but it saved me from having to transport one myself or dispose of it later (which is quite a task in Japan, requiring paperwork no less). It worked perfectly and was nice to have something to lean on as an added safety measure.

My shower needs were more difficult as I typically use a commode-style shower chair with a high back, and mine at home isn’t portable. Renting or buying locally seems like the next best choice, but you can immediately forget rental options in this case, because of hygiene issues shops only sell new shower chairs (and thinking about it further, I too would prefer new for the same reason). Buying options from local stores is an issue as well, usually due to limited stock (if any on-hand at all) and high prices (without local healthcare coverage). 

I decided to try the Amazon website for Japan (requires a separate login from other countries’ version of Amazon) for the shower chair I needed, but this didn’t go as planned. Initially I had issues with my credit card and the new Japanese address I was trying to use (had to call and clear it up with the credit company, more on this below). Afterwards I attempted to buy a couple relatively inexpensive shower chairs, one which shipping was from China and never shipped (I cancelled and got refunded), and another that was just too small to work. This situation quickly became annoying, but I had a few other ideas. I ultimately settled on a camping/outdoor type of chair ordered from Amazon Japan, it fit in the shower area, was less expensive than most actual shower chairs, and was waterproof. This worked for the time I was there. 

Screenshot of Amazon Japan website showing search results for shower chairs

If you find yourself in similar need of a shower chair, probably the least expensive to fit basic needs may be a collapsible camping/outdoor chair, some are quite portable. If such a thing will work for you and your needs, it may be possible to get one small enough to fit into smaller shower areas you often see in Japanese bathrooms. If you have found a rental with a bigger shower space, then it is possible to buy and bring a bigger collapsible shower chair, my suggestion would be something like the one seen here on the Shower Buddy website. I haven’t personally used this chair, but I do use a shower chair from this company that is very much like this (just not collapsible), it is sturdy and works well for my needs. The one I linked above is inexpensive (last I checked) and they offer optional accessories including a travel bag for it (Note: If you have a US connected flight, I cannot say for certain that it will fit or must be checked-in, but this should qualify as a free carry-on because it is your medical equipment). I have seen some other similar products elsewhere, but they can get expensive, nevertheless I suggest doing some research before making any decision.

Cash and Credit Cards

Cash (Yen) is still king in Japan. Although acceptance of credit cards has expanded quite a bit in the last decade, you’ll often find the little stores selling cool souvenirs, Gacha capsule toy machines with unique items, or wonderfully delicious street food vendors only taking cash. My suggestion here is to budget your estimated food cost (higher if you plan to eat out more often), sightseeing admission fees, and a good amount for souvenirs, then bring enough Yen for that. There are various places to get Japanese Yen, but the most reliable is probably your local bank. They will probably charge you a set fee and use the current exchange rate at the time of the transaction, but don’t wait too long as you may have to wait a week or more before they get the physical cash at the bank (unless it’s a bigger city).

A credit/debit card may be worth bringing as well to keep from burning through the cash on-hand or even for the inherent added security when purchasing big-ticket items during your visit. If you do, remember to inform the credit/debit companies that you will be using them in Japan, this should help avoid a false fraud alert from flagging your card (note: this doesn’t mean they won’t flag it anyway, so watch for email alerts from the company, this happened to me). You may also be able to pull Yen from ATMs at convenience stores using a debit or credit card (I don’t recommend the latter due to interest fees), but there’s no guarantee it will work. Also keep in mind using foreign credit cards for Japanese online website purchases can be an issue as well, while attempting to purchase Tokyo Disneyland tickets online (at the time none were being sold at the physical ticket booth) all my credit and debit cards were denied for no clear reason (this forced me to find a local travel agency to buy them from).

Advanced Booking Locations

Some places or events require booking in advance, this can be made more difficult because some tickets are sold on Japanese-only websites, or they may simply be sold out for the next month or more (not to mention the foreign credit card issues stated above). Some popular locations like The Ghibli Museum and Tokyo Disneyland can even have a combination of these issues. If you are determined to visit such locations, then I can’t stress enough about booking early online, or immediately finding a travel agent after arriving in Japan to help obtain them. The Ghibli Museum almost didn’t happen for me, but luckily there was one opening near the end of my trip (about 45 days from when I attempted to book), and similarly Tokyo Disneyland had openings about 3 weeks out. Depending on the place or event, a website translation app can be a very useful tool in purchasing advanced tickets, though you may have to write/convert your name(s) to Japanese Katakana when filling out applications.

The outside of the Ghibli Museum at night with a lit window showing the statue of the anime character Totoro

Portable Computer or Laptop

If your rental has an included internet plan, then you may want to bring a portable computer with you for additional planning in case a local event or suggested sightseeing catches your eye, and you want to research it. You could use your phone for this but the place I stayed at had high speed internet with no data caps, so I also used the computer I brought to play streaming videos on rainy nights or do some writing when I was back in the apartment early. On a side note, bring a USB thumb drive, if you ever need to print a document, jpeg, or pdf it is simple to do at most convenience stores.

Staying Connected

A cell data plan is a must for long stays in the Tokyo area (talk & text are less useful), the cityscape is huge and easy to get lost in if you like to wander. Maps and GPS will help keep you informed about where you’re going and how long it may take. For my trip I used my own cellphone and rented a SIM card from Mobal (here’s more information from Accessible Japan about Internet and SIM cards), which I received before leaving for my trip. Word of caution, even if your phone is compatible with the SIM, call your plan provider to make sure your phone is unlocked for using one (some of the big cell companies lock the phones to their network for 90 days from purchase), and international calls back home or to your credit/debit card companies will still be expensive (so use online chat if possible).

Once you’re set up with a data plan, I recommend a Text Translator app to/from Japanese, Google has a free app and it is very useful in many situations (many of the train attendants have them too and will occasionally use them if they can’t get what they are saying across). The translation isn’t perfect, but if you keep sentences short and to the point then it should translate well enough. As for explaining situations like food allergies, I would instead recommend using Accessible Japan’s Essential Japanese Phrase section to construct and print a physical copy of your concerns in both English and Japanese, leaving little room for error.

Another long-stay necessity for non-Japanese speakers is a Text Translator from Image app, Google again has it, you will quickly find that shopping for food at a supermarket is much easier when you can read labels. With it you can use your camera to translate in real time, then you won’t mistake a bottle of vinegar for a bottle of cooking oil, or which box with a cow on it is cheese or butter. I was glad to have this for those reasons and more.

Screenshots of apps used for translating. On the left it shows text translation, on the right the text of a menu is translated in realtime, overlaying English text onto a Japanese menu.

Getting around

You don’t necessarily need to know Japanese to explore Tokyo (especially thanks to technology), and luckily there are English-speaking workers you’ll find occasionally. There are times when you may need to find them, and the best places are the busiest/biggest train stations or larger stores (JR Ticketing offices are usually a good place to try).

Mass-Transit

Train travel is a convenient, safe, and easy way to get around in the city whether you use a wheelchair or not, in fact you may be able to see everything you want in Tokyo just by getting around in trains. The train attendants are very helpful, most stations are accessible via elevators, and there are dedicated spaces on trains specifically for wheelchairs. Accessible Japan has an excellent Train Information section that details information about this, check it out if it’s your first time going. Nevertheless, if you do need to be somewhere on-time (or just early to maximize your day), make sure to pad some extra time (I usually added +30 mins.) into your travel (before and sometimes switching between trains) because it can take a little extra time for train attendants to arrange for the ramp/slope and assure someone will be waiting for you at the end of your trip. 

When you arrive at a new train station, especially a massive one, it can sometimes be confusing even under the best circumstances. GPS can be helpful here, but if it isn’t pointing in the proper direction or you’re without signal in a subway, then you must look for guidance elsewhere. The easiest way I found to overcome this is to look for local maps posted at the station and usually outside station exits (very useful in finding proper train lines, elevators, exits, etc.). Just keep in mind that the top of the map isn’t often north but aligned to the direction you’re facing when looking at the maps “you are here” icon.

You can pay for your train tickets in a couple of ways, buying tickets or prepaid cards. Buying tickets is based on the cost of the fare from where you are to where you’re going, they have charts at the ticket machines but figuring this out can be a daunting task for first timers (though map apps are usually pretty accurate with fare rates). Currently as an alternative you can purchase prepaid IC cards from PASMO and SUICA that are rechargeable and good for about 30 days. Many of the ticket machines can recharge these cards (minimum 1000-yen bill) and usually are easy to spot colored in pink and/or has “recharge” written above it. I love the ease of use these cards provide by just literally tapping them on the turnstile to pass and pay, and I used them throughout my trip. These cards can also be used at many convenience stores, vending machines, and payment for city bus fares.

Speaking of buses, on a few occasions I did have to use them to get from the closest station to select locations (e.g. Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural MuseumSaiko Iyashi-no-seto Nenba [Traditional Japanese Village]). The hardest part was finding the correct bus stop, but if you have your destination showing on your phone (or written down) and show it to any bus driver you’ll be pointed in the right direction or on your way soon enough. Accessible Japan has a lot of good details about it here: Riding the Bus in a Wheelchair in Japan. The buses were easy to use and inexpensive, but for me it consisted of only a part of 5 trips total, versus my almost daily use of trains throughout the 90-days.

More uncommon than riding buses, some limited and/or express trains may require special tickets to ride that need to be pre-purchased (this also includes bullet trains). I ran into this while trying to go to Saiko Iyashi-no-seto Nenba [Traditional Japanese Village] and ride the Fuji Excursion (Chou line), as the alternative non-city sightseeing buses that go to this location are not accessible. To get these tickets I had to talk to the ticket counter staff in a JR Travel Service Center at a major station (Shibuya in my case), if you need accessible seating like me on reserved seating trains, inform them of your needs upfront (i.e. wheelchairs space), try to have all the train details (start/end locations, time leaving/returning, etc.) to make it easier, and book as early as you can. But be prepared for a wait, it took me an hour to get these tickets because they had to confirm the seats over two lines (but it was worth it).

Lastly for travel, if you plan to see a major event or festival then consider the following:

  • Expect massive crowds, Tokyo and Yokohama events draw in a lot of people, the events I attended planned well for this but that doesn’t mean waiting lines won’t be long.
  • Pad even more extra time, primarily because of the crowds, so try to show up early if possible and either expect to leave late or sneak away before the end.
  • Plan for food, prepare to wait in lines for event food or avoid the wait by packing a meal to bring (plenty of bento options at convenient stores).
  • Research disabled seating locations, they had planned a perfect location for a fireworks festival I attended, far enough from the smoke, close enough to see the fireworks, and near a pathway exit so I didn’t have to weave my wheelchair through the crowds of people picnicking on the main ground area.
  • Don’t count on event-provided restrooms, some events may set up extra portable toilets for guests, but they may not be wheelchair accessible so be aware of alternatives.

Keeping this in mind when planning, festivals can be a lot of fun and worth the effort. Usually you can find unique items or souvenirs for sale, great street food, and of course the event entertainment itself. I got a nice banner from the Fireworks Festival and a cool towel from a Samurai Parade both with themes related to their events. The food was awesome, dongo, yakitori, French fries (but soy-butter flavor), and soft serve ice cream Uji matcha (Uji green tea) flavor, yum! 

Restrooms

While sightseeing accessible restroom needs should be something you concern yourself with at least in part. Unlike the United States, older buildings (over 10+ years old) in Japan don’t necessarily have to have accessible restroom facilities (or even be accessible at all). To find accessible facilities there are generally two places I try first that have worked out very consistently for me:

  1. Restrooms at train stations, unless it’s a very small station, most have a universal-style restroom for those with disabilities beside a regular women and men’s restroom. Most of the accessible restrooms have safety bars, accessible sinks, ostomy cleaning facilitate, and more that make them very useful throughout the city. I recommend using them before boarding your train if you start to feel like you may need to go so you don’t have to hold it longer than necessary. For example, going from Tokyo to Yokohama area can take an hour and you can’t easily leave the train early if you need a slope/ramp to disembark.
  2. Restrooms at newer department buildings (usually 4+ stories), this is also a very good place to check. The newer buildings follow new disability building codes in Japan, which means similar bathroom setups as train stations and elevators. 
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.

Dining options

Restaurants are very hit-or-miss in terms of accessibility, but Google maps and street-view is your friend while looking for accessible restaurants. I’m usually not dead set in going to a specific restaurant without planning or already knowing it is accessible, and if out and about I start looking before getting very hungry. I start with a search for a local or specific type of restaurant, then quickly scan a menu or pictures of food they serve, and if it looks interesting enough, I look at the shop from street level and check for steps (and if available inside pictures). I was only saddened once in looking for a Mexican-style restaurant (I was curious about a Japanese take on the food and any ingredients changes/fusion), but I could only find inaccessible restaurants sadly (but at least I knew before going). Nevertheless, if you find yourself in a newer mall or department stores you can usually find a food court or often whole floors dedicated to restaurants, prices can range drastically between dining options but generally if the stores sell high-end items, the food may follow suite in taste and price.

As for what to pick to eat, well anything that sounds remotely good to you. I suggest keeping an open mind about trying new foods. The last days of my trip I tried a delicious dish with a sort of crab soup over fried rice that I wish I found sooner just so I could have it again, and this wasn’t the only time that happened. Japan has lots of good foods and small non-chain shops can be awesome! One thing to consider, you may want to try to avoid the lunch and dinner rush in the busiest parts of the city or be prepared to wait for a table. I have decided to wait a few times only when I thought the food was worth it, but if you have a full day planned you may want to eat a bit early.

You can also find delicious food from the numerous convenient stores (e.g. Family Mart, 7-Eleven, Lawsons, etc.) found seemingly on every corner. Microwaveable ready to eat meals (e.g. a bento packaged meal of tempura, rice, and gyoza), freshly made hot grilled or fried chicken, great snacks in a pinch (onigiri, inarizushi, gourmet breads, chips, etc.), or a late-night snack (ice cream anyone?), these stores are truly convenient! As a side note, during the summer heat they are also a great place to pop into to cool down and grab a nice drink to get much needed hydration (I suggest Pocari Sweat, while different in taste, it is like other sports drinks in the US that help fight dehydration and it worked well for me).

If you have Food Allergies unfortunately it may be a bit more difficult for you in Japan, I rarely saw an English food allergy list at a restaurant (usually just at a bigger franchise chain). Even when they are present, they don’t really tell you what part of the food contains the allergen (e.g. wheat is shown in almost everything, but I suspect this is because of the use of soy sauce in most food sauces, which has a small amount of wheat as thickener), making it difficult to identify allergens without asking. So, as I stated above for working with situations like food allergies, I would recommend using Accessible Japan’s Essential Japanese Phrase section to construct and print a physical copy of your concerns in both English and Japanese, to show to the wait staff when ordering.

Job Hunting

Bear in mind that while on a 90-day holiday (non-visa), the Japanese government doesn’t allow foreigners to work in the country (this is so the market isn’t saturated with underpaid temporary visitors as well as protecting the rights of foreigners wanting to legitimately work in Japan). But nothing is stopping me from feeling out the job market in Japan, so having a Bachelor of Science degree in Education (Exceptional Student Education) I was primarily looking at jobs pertaining to Education. I learned a lot in the process, though I would have loved to secure a job during my visit (I really wanted to stay), all I can tell you is a few things I found in my search.

Limited Japanese equals limited options, my Japanese Language skills are Elementary in my opinion and staying in Japan and meeting so many native speakers has only made me realize how much more I can learn. I’m aware of some jobs that don’t require a lot of Japanese (I made a friend who is a software engineer working in Japan and has similar Japanese Language skills to my own), but I do not have the technical skills required for such a position. Speaking with local teachers I discover that schools that teach students with disabilities need more teachers for just about every basic subject (which doesn’t really count English), but all of them are taught in Japanese making fluency a requirement. So, unless I acquire some major technical or Language skills overnight, this essentially limited me to English Language teaching positions in Japan. 

This is where I found out that English Language teaching positions in Tokyo/Yokohama area are extremely competitive (the good ones that is, there are those that will try to take advantage of you or even less legitimate positions that will try to get you to work during a non-visa 90-day holiday). On top of that, it can be difficult for someone who uses a wheelchair to work in some of these positions because you may be required to travel to various schools at different times, some of which may not yet be accessible. This means if I cannot find some sort of private school who needs a fulltime English teacher in one location (uncommon) then I’m only able to work for a small percentage of a small portion of possibly available jobs I can work at. 

Trying not to get depressed by this news I spoke with friends, new and old, and reached out to investigate other opportunities. The people I met in Japan have been inspiring, including Accessible Japan’s own Josh Grisdale, who was a wonderful host in showing me some of his work-life and sharing what he has experienced while living in Japan. Everyone has been so encouraging and has even helped me brainstorm on what to do next. In doing this they reminded me that networking is important, and I value the help they provided more than they may realize. Reaching out to others, making connections, and talking with native Japanese people during a long stay may be some of the best advice I can give because of the those I met.

I feel that there are still options available yet to find work in Japan, while I’ll continue to look for them long-distance, I am also interested in expanding my knowledge further still (especially my Japanese Language skills). Perhaps my next trip will be with a Student Visa, at which time I guess I’ll be writing another post like this… but as a student.

Bonus: My Picks

While I mentioned some of these already, here are my top five favorite places to visits during my trip (in no particular order): 

  • Tech: Gundam Factory Yokohama. Only available until March 2024, this very accessible and impressive sight combines Anime, Mechs, and real-world technology to recreate a full-size Gundam that moves, lights up, and makes sounds straight out of the Anime itself. Even if you can’t pilot it and walk around, it was quite a sight to see up-close, and its museum with behind-the-scenes views of the tech involved in its creation is interesting to mechanics and mech lovers alike. 
  • Architectural: Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum. A variety of buildings from different time periods are on exhibit in an almost completely accessible park. I loved how the architecture changes from the use of large gnarly timber beams incorporated in the old farmhouse ceiling to the more refined Japanese homes that make use of sliding doors to open the entire house to take full advantage of the beautiful outdoors. This place feels like a walk throughout history itself.
  • Shopping: Akihabara. For me this location is partly nostalgia (from visiting here years ago) and part fun being that I’m still a fan of Anime and Video Games. While not all accessible, there are so many stores here dedicated to these genres that finding something for a fan like me isn’t a difficult task. Sometimes the prices here can be at the high-end, but you can also find second-hand shops with pretty good deals available.
  • Animation: Ghibli Museum. As I mentioned, I’m a fan of Anime, and by bar my favorites are the ones that pay close attention to detail. For me the extended library from Studio Ghibli films fits into this category exceptionally well, so I had to visit their accessible museum. To my pleasant surprise the Ghibli Museum has been crafted to take advantage of this in-depth approach to detail in almost every square meter of the museum, making it a whimsical tour of Ghibli’s history and creative efforts toward the art many of us have come to love and enjoy.
  • Cultural Immersion: Saiko Iyashi-no-seto Nenba (Traditional Japanese Village). A bit of a trek from Tokyo, this very accessible village was recreated in traditional fashion to educate and inspire guest to be a part of Japan’s cultural heritage. You can even dress the part in kimono, samurai armor, and more. All this with beautiful views of nearby Mt. Fuji. The highlight of my trip!
East side path, looking south at the village with Mt Fuji in the background

There is so much more to see and do in Japan, so I recommend checking out the rest of the Accessible Japan website to find many more accessible locations and useful tips in helping you make the best of your trip to the Land of the Rising Sun!

If you have questions or want to share any tips that can help other travelers, please head over to tabifolk and introduce yourself with a post. We would love to hear from you as a part of our growing community of people helping other people to live life to the fullest.

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