Accessibility in Japan has largely improved over the recent years, with the idea of barrier-free travel being made a priority in anticipation of the Paralympic Games in 2020. The authorities in Japan, especially Tokyo have been keen to make improvements to the way people with disabilities move around the city and the newer modern areas have great access for wheelchair users. In the older part of town, the footpaths would be narrower as would the layout of many traditional buildings, making access here more difficult.
Hotel rooms in Japan are very limited so booking ahead is most essential and it is best not to rely upon internet bookings if you have access requirements. Luxury and mid-range hotels are the most common for wheelchair accessibility in the cities although these may only have one or two rooms available, even in the larger hotels. Budget establishments appear to offer limited or no accommodation in the accessible tourism market and these are best avoided. Hotels appear not to have been as pro-active with accessibility as other areas of the tourism sector, which is a worry when large scale events are planned.
Getting around Japan on public transport offers a better experience with good accessibility on trains, buses, and the metro. All of these modes of public transport offer excellent levels of access for wheelchair users and the government is encouraging a newer brand of accessible taxi in time for the Paralympic Games. This makes travelling life on public transport is relatively stress-free.
Tourist attractions are also joining the march toward a more inclusive, barrier-free ethos, with all new attractions following the principles of universal design. With traditional attractions making as many improvements as possible to make the venue as accessible as they are able. Information on what is or is not available is plentiful in Japanese and we are hoping that there will be available in more languages as the 2020 Games approach.
Websites for further information include