Today, more and more elderly people or people with disability are traveling in Japan.
Japan has put into force a law to ensure accessibility at many places throughout the country.
Organizations at different levels such as the Japanese government, local authorities and NPOs have worked on the development of an accessible travel environment for everyone including people with disabilities and special needs.
Increasingly visible facilities are; tactile paving, pavements with slopes available for wheelchair access, more station elevators and buses with passenger lift.
Also the accessible toilets that are usually spacious and have amenities such as automatic doors, automatic lighting and hand rails can be found almost everywhere.
Most trains have at least one car with space for wheelchairs. Staff at the train stations can assist and guide people with disabilities to the train.
Though Japan has a good accessibility around the country, it can be quite a challenge to plan a journey on your own.
If you are a foreign tourist wishing to visit Japan, you may find some difficulties in finding accessibility related information, since most of them are available only in Japanese.
It might be confusing for foreigners who are visiting Japan for the first time, as in some cases different terminologies are used.
And you should know; older buildings in Japan tend to have narrow interior layouts. Consequently, shops and restaurants located in such buildings may be difficult to enter and navigate with wheelchairs due to the lack of space and presence of steps.
Unlike city buses, long distance buses and airport buses tend not to be as accommodating to wheelchair users, because boarding typically involves climbing multiple steps.
Regular taxis are not equipped with ramps and may be difficult to board. Although many companies provide taxis with wheelchair ramps or special seats, they usually require prior arrangement and you need to be able to speak Japanese.
There are still many inaccessible places in Japan, but preparations are in full swing for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics which means everything, is getting even more accessible.
Meanwhile, there are firms and organizations that provide accessibility information with websites in multiple languages, thereby serving as a gateway for foreign tourists with disability.
These companies can help you by booking a lift taxi, wheelchair accessible accommodations, offering tips for traveling and volunteer guides. Some even are capable of planning and coordinating group tours or study tours.
Below you find links to some of these companies offering variety of services. They can help to make your trip easier and more comfortable. Visit their website and choose depending on your needs and plans.
- Japan Accessible Tourism Center
- Tokyo Taxi Hire
- Kamui Daisetsu Barrier-free Tour Center Hokkaido
- Accessible Tokyo
- Accessible Travel Okinawa
- Ureshino BarrierFree Tour Center
- Iseshima Barrier Free Tour Center
- Airport Limousine Bus Accessibility Information
- Narita Airport Information
- Haneda Airport Information
- Kansai Airport Information
- New Chitose Airport Information
- JR Hokkaido Railway
- JR East Railway
- JR West Railway
- JR Central Railway
- JR Shikoku Railway
- JR Kyushu Railway