MemberJanuary 5, 2019 at 10:40 am
I need a little help – Im been going round in circles trying work out what to do.
My mom and I have planned to come to Japan in 2 weeks time for about 3 weeks. Our first week is up in Niseko – Ill be skiing while mom relaxes in our villa. Then after that we have 11 days free to explore.
Shes been a little unwell of late and doesn’t have the stamina she used to have (shes been on cancer treatments that have knocked her about). Of note she cant walk for more than say 500m at any one time at best on a day (slow and steady) and stairs are tricky for her. So ive been doing heaps of research and going round in circles. Japan seems amazing and I want to go everywhere but this can be easily spoiled if I don’t get the accessibility parts right and mom falls in a heap.
We haven’t booked much except our outbound flight is from Kansai (Osaka)
Initially I was thinking of doing the JR rail pass, but cant seem to find out how difficult the stations will be for her for accessibility. And once exiting a station, how many stairs she would need to encounter, how to get to our location (more public transport or taxi etc) Are the stations easy to navigate?
We are intending on just bringing one suitcase on wheels which I can push around, so she will have nothing to hold or carry.
One option was to rent a wheelchair for her (at some stage on the trip – who knows where!), so that when she does get tired or we want to go exploring I can push her around on a wheelchair, save me not going anywhere when mom cant walk any further. But if we move around in JR Rail, Ill be pushing her wheelchair as well as the wheelie suitcase (which will be challenging!)
Is there anyone on here that can give me some tips.
Im thinking major cities may be off the list, it might be better to go to smaller areas where its not so overwhelming and a bit easier to get around.
We are not fussed on sites. I have liked the idea of the therapeutic onsens to be honest. Some temples are ok but not high on the list (the famous ones yes). Food is key.
Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Kat
AdministratorJanuary 5, 2019 at 11:12 am
Thank you for your post!
I cannot speak to difficulties about luggage and pushing a wheelchair, but I think @melanie_lmt can address this.
The JR Pass is worth it if you plan on using the bullet train (shinkansen) at all. So, if you go from Niseko to Osaka by plane and only stay in Osaka, it may not be worth it. However, if you plan on going to Tokyo and then Kyoto/Osaka by train, it is worth it.
As for the train stations, every station the shinkansen stops at is wheelchair accessible. In large cities like Tokyo and Osaka, over 90% of the train/subway stations are accessible and Sapporo and Kyoto are near that as well. However, the stations have been made accessible after they were built for the most part and the elevators etc are often hidden away or in inconvenient locations – so finding your way can be hard. Thankfully, the staff can help you. When you get on the train in a wheelchair, the staff will help you get on the train and be waiting to help you off at your destination to guide you to the exit or your transfer, so you won’t need to worry about getting lost once you are in the station.
You can see more here: https://www.accessible-japan.com/wheelchair-accessible-trains-and-subways-in-japan/
All stations also have a station map online… in Japanese. But if you have a question about a certain station, I can look it up for you. 🙂
You may also want to consider taking a few essentials in a backpack and then sending your suitcase ahead to your next hotel via courier (https://www.accessible-japan.com/traveling-with-luggage-in-japan/)
About avoiding larger cities… that may make your journey harder. While there are more people in the cities, the transportation is much more accessible. Going to smaller cities you will notice a huge drop in accessibility. Fewer train stations, bus routes that still have inaccessible buses, etc. If your mom is able to, you can use a taxi.
If you are OK with a planned tour, you may want to get in touch Alison (@ali_muskett) from Inside Japan Tours about their accessible tour package.
If you plan on renting a wheelchair, talk to @wilgo and I believe they can send a portable wheelchair to be waiting for you and then you can return it at a different location.
Hope this helps! As we continue this discussion, feel free to start other question topics as well.
MemberJanuary 17, 2019 at 2:26 pm
i just posted my story on the forum
i only got back on Monday this week
Definitely book a wheelchair, I had 1 delivered to the hotel and my son met with the man. If you need the contact information let me know. My son lives in Tokyo and he may be able to write the email to organise delivery to your hotel. The man just needs cash on the day.
I have multiple sclerosis and can’t walk long distances and struggle with steps. Basically, the information counter at every station is a blessing. My son relayed information pretty much all the time. There was once, I said the name of the station and the man held up 4 fingers for platform 4
My struggle was with the connecting flight from Sydney to Melbourne
I would have to agree about the rail pass. Full on in the 7 days and what if your Mum needs a rest, just a thought. I rested on 2 separate days and then my son had to go back to work so this was a struggle.
I ended up getting the free shuttle bus from the hotel to a wonderful shopping centre called Isetan and spent hours there, I looked at every floor.
I’ve now been to Japan 3 times and this time was much better as I could see the changes
Just buy a plastic card – Suica and the app can be downloaded to your iPhone and linked to Apple Pay for topping up. Before I left I put $100.00 or yen equivalent on the card
The other thing my son organised was a data sim from Yodabashi (Akihabara) you can’t miss this shop. He took out my sim, kept it for me, put the new 1 in, unlimited wifi for 30 days. I could text him all the time and obviously google maps and information, strongly suggest. Roaming is way too expensive.
Hopefully this information assists
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