Wheelchair Accessibility in Tokyo

Content via Disability Horizons
Disability Horizons

No matter what city you travel to, you’re likely going to find a wide range of accessible venues within your destination city. That’s just what Srin Madipalli did when he traveled to Tokyo, Japan.


a man in a wheelchair outdoors

“As a traveler from the West,” writes Srin, “the thing that takes you back the most is just how helpful, courteous and friendly people are. It’s a type of extreme deference and politeness to others that you generally never see in Western countries which is humbling.” Helpful, friendly people definitely make traveling a more pleasant experience for a wheelchair user.

But regardless of how friendly people are, if there is a language barrier, communicating can become difficult. Srin encountered this when trying to find an accessible route in a metro station.  

“By getting someone who speaks Japanese to write some basic requests for you on paper for you to show to people can make [navigating the metro] much easier.”

Although Srin stayed in an extremely accessible hotel room at the Tokyo Westin, he says finding an accessible room in Tokyo was difficult. He encountered quite a few un-returned phone calls and emails when searching. Srin admits the language barrier might have added to the difficulty in finding the right room, but the search still seemed harder than it should have been.

A surprisingly frustrating accessibility issue Srin encountered was the large number of restaurants in Tokyo that had steps at the entrances. He was able to overcome this by finding helpful folks to lift him in his chair over the steps, but individuals in larger, heavier chairs likely wouldn’t be as lucky.

There’s always going to be good and bad accessibility issues when you travel to another city. Remember, a positive outlook and creative thinking are always good things to take with you on a trip!

Are you a wheelchair world traveler who has encountered a wide variety of accessibility issues? Share them with us, and you might get featured on AbleThrive!

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