Reply To: take train in wheelchair

  • schroth-sensei

    February 11, 2024 at 4:53 am

    Hello Farid,

    Some limited and/or express trains may require special tickets to ride that need to be pre-purchased (this also includes Shinkansen/bullet trains). I ran into this while trying to go to Saiko Iyashi-no-seto Nenba [Traditional Japanese Village] and ride the Fuji Excursion (Chou line), as the alternative non-city sightseeing buses that go to this location are not accessible. I also took the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka years ago and bought similar tickets.

    If you can reserve your tickets ahead of time online, then I absolutely recommend doing so. However, I couldn’t book the seats I needed online; they were shown as begin not available (probably blocked out just for people with disabilities) but were bookable elsewhere.

    To get these tickets I had to talk to the ticket counter staff in a JR Travel Service Center (look for the green chair symbol in attached) at a major station (Shibuya in my case, but attached is a google picture of the Kyoto Station ticket office that should work), if you need accessible seating like me on reserved seating trains, inform them of your needs upfront (i.e. wheelchairs space), try to have all the train details (start/end locations, time leaving/returning, etc.) to make it easier, and book as early as you can. But be prepared for a wait, it took me an hour to get these tickets because they had to confirm the seats over two lines (but it was worth it).

    The limited/express/shinkansen trains that I have been on usually have just two spots available in the back next to each other (though there can be more spaces), so you may be able to find the seating you need. As for what Amy is referring to, you should be at the station early (maybe 30mins), tell them your destination or show your tickets, so that an attendant can get the slope (ramp) and take you to your train. This service is standard practice for those in a wheelchair at most stations and makes traveling by train in Japan so easy.

    If you haven’t already, check out the Transportation Section of Accessible Japan for more information about getting around Japan and so much more. Also, you may find some useful tips (including the ones I mentioned here) in my blog post on Accessible Japan titled Yokohama Life: What I Learned Living 90-days in Japan with a Disability.

    I hope that helps, but if you have any other questions, feel free to ask and we’ll try to get you an answer,

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