Problems unique to disable travelers

  • Problems unique to disable travelers

    Posted by Accessible Japan on May 2, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Hi! Accessible Japan will be featured as part of a show on NHK (the Japanese public TV broadcaster).  They wanted to highlight issues that are unique to travelers with disabilities visiting Japan – issues that are unique to foreign travelers (as opposed to locals with disabilities) and unique to Japan (so, not a problem if visiting a country in Europe but a problem in Japan).

    We came up with:

    • Medication – In Japan, some common medicines for things like ADHD contain restricted substances, so they cannot be brought to Japan.
    • Guide Dogs – the rules for guide dogs / assist dogs require that the dog be trained in Japan.  Of course anyone visiting from another country does not meet this requirement!  They must contact the local Japanese guide dog association almost half a year in advance to get temporary permission.
    • Equipment Rentals – renting equipment like hoists in Japan is difficult because local companies only rent to people using the public healthcare system and they are not used to renting short term to foreigners and usually only communicate in Japanese.
    • Booking Hotels – Usually accessible rooms can only be booked by phone in Japan, not online.  So it can be very difficult for someone visiting who does not speak Japanese.

    Have you faced any of these issues in other countries?  Is it only Japan?

    For example, can you travel from France to England with your guide dog?  Or, is it easy to rent a hoist in different countries?

    Thank you for your input!

    maria replied 6 years, 1 month ago 4 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • alison

    May 6, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    I’m not a visitor to Japan so this is a bit of brainstorming rather than experience, but here are some things that I thought of:


    Difficult for visitors to check ingredients of food for allergic reactions or dietary restrictions because packages are only labeled in Japanese.  Other countries tend to be further ahead with multi-lingual packaging.


    Unable to use disability card from overseas (and without a Japanese “Shintai Shogaisha Teicho” (disability passport)), travelers with a personal assistant must pay full fare for their assistant for transportation and other attractions.  (Other countries may have the same policy though…)


    Lack of accommodation of power scooters in Japan.


    Lack of cutlery (knife, fork, spoon) available at restaurants for those with difficulty with chopsticks (including many foreigners without physical disabilities also struggle with chopsticks!)




  • Accessible Japan

    May 7, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    Excellent points!  Filming this weekend, so if you have others, let me know!

  • Kamil

    May 8, 2018 at 2:00 am

    Hi! I didn’t had many issues when visited Japan. Some small issues I can remember now are:

    • The language barrier (either people didn’t speak English or signs are not in Latin alphabet sometimes).
    • The hoist rental you mention. My sister wanted it for 8 days but had to pay for the whole month (if I am not mistaken).
    • I heard by a disabled friend that she had issues getting on the train because her wheelchair was not “adequate”.
    • Also I think she had issues with one hotel which didn’t allowed her wheelchair inside.
    •  The rule mania can be a barrier sometimes even if something it’s theoretically possible and doable.

    I don’t remember something else now. I am not sure, but I suppose these are not only Japanese issues. I still consider Japan as the most accessible country I have been so far!

  • Accessible Japan

    May 8, 2018 at 11:46 am

    Great! Thank you!

    There is still time before filming, is it possible to ask for your to answer as well?

  • maria

    May 8, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Hi, I will agree with Kamil.

    Besides the issues someone could have with “administrative things”, like the ones mentioned above, I don’t think that there are many difficulties for a disabled visitor in Japan.

    I had an incident at the airport, with my power wheelchair’s batteries, but I never really got to understand what was the problem, so I cannot really describe it. They was not allowing me to pass, unless I removed my batteries (in the end the issue was resolved before getting there!). I guess someone has to be careful with their power wheelchairs more in Japan than in other countries.

    If I think of something else I will let you know.

  • Accessible Japan

    May 8, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    Hmmm… was that when you were leaving or arriving?

  • maria

    May 8, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    When I was leaving. I almost missed my flight because of that 😛

    I actually has mentioned it here:

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