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Accessible Tokyo

July 30, 2008

Accessible Tokyo

Traveling to Tokyo may seem a bit intimidating to those with disabilities but with a little advanced planning and a bit of determination it can be done! Just a few years back in would have been practically impossible to get around Tokyo if you used a wheelchair or had any other significant impediment to your mobility but things have improved quite a bit. Accessible Tokyo is a website created by volunteers from the Japanese Red Cross Society to help the disabled plan their trip and find hotels, parks, and museums that meet their special needs. The site was last updated in 2005 and may not be comprehensive but it is still a great resource and is worth reviewing if you, or a traveling companion, have a disability. Another resource is Accessible Japan Travel at Yokoso! Japan.

Trains & Subways

Most stations are either above or below ground level and are accessed via a combination of stairs and escalators. Elevators have been installed in many stations and some ticket vending machines are positioned low enough so that those confined to a wheelchair can purchase tickets unassisted. Wheelchairs do not fit through the automated ticket gates but there is usually one wide gate next to the stationmasters office that can be utilized. A second elevator is usually available to ascend or descend to track level. If you don’t have someone with you, ask one of the station attendants for assistance boarding the train as there are often wide gaps between the platform and the train itself which may be difficult to traverse on your own. Newer trains offer areas dedicated to wheelchair parking (pictured on the right) and Accessible Japan Travel offers a map of accessible rail and subway stations.

Visual Impairment

Many city streets in Tokyo, and throughout Japan, have raised ‘Braille’ strips on the sidewalks so that they are navigable for the visually impaired. You will also find these strips in train stations.

More Accessible Tokyo Resources

If you have a disability of travel with someone who does, take a moment to review the information offered by Accessible Tokyo. Here are just some of the areas that are covered:

Similar information is available by area at Accessible Japan Travel.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia, Wheelchair space of JR E233 & Flickr, Osaka Sidewalk(a)