Reply To: Any advice for July 2018 Japan trip?

  • duxinco

    June 27, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    We spent most of June in Japan with our youngest child in a w/c (which we, parents, push for him). Honestly, the only restaurant we visited which was truly Accessible (in terms of smooth entry) was on Miyajima, and its bathroom was most decidedly not Accessible.

    Now, many of the cafes / restaus we visited were on the second floor (with no elevator), and at every single one but one in Osaka the staff always wanted and were eager to help lift and carry. My son in a palanquin! I think he may have been a Shogun …. But these staffs made our trip so sweet, of course. I literally never had to ask for help — they always beat me to it, calling out to their coworkers to come and lift.

    We were delighted and shocked (SHOCKED!) how Accessible many important sites are: I had not been to Kyoto and Hiroshima, for example, for twenty-five years. But now there is a clearly marked w/c path at Ryoan-ji (meditative rock garden) with w/c viewing area. I got teary when I saw it because it meant we could see it as a family. Note: you first have to go over a loose gravel path to get to the w/c path, which can be, let’s face it, a bear.

    Fushimi Inari (the site with all those gorgeous vermilion torii stacked one atop another), just outside Kyoto, also has a completely umarked, invisible w/c Accessible path. We were well inside when we confronted with a long flight of stairs and no ramp: I asked at Information and she told me to go outside and then take an unmarked road (I am not making this up) up and over. Literally: “up and over” (in Japanese, though). So we went out and then, at the large gray (concrete) torii where the “don’t eat here” signs are posted, went up that road, up and over, but we probably should have gone a little more up and then over. Either way, we did make it in.

    Hiroshima’s moving Peace museum, cenotaph, and Peace Dome are all very, very w/c Accessible, and boy do the staff inside the museum go out of their way to ensure you make your way right over to their elevator.

    You know, what’s probably most important is that you have seriously sufficient rain protection: July is rainy season.

    I don’t know in which country you reside, but if you have something legal and official which identifies you as disabled you will find your entry fee waived or substantially reduced in many, many places — being in your chair will not suffice. My child is only twelve years-old, profoundly I/DD, has absolute global aphasia, no ADLs, etc., and at many places I was asked for his “handicapped license.” I pointed to him and explained (in Japanese) that he’s twelve, and in the US he won’t have a “handicapped license” until he’s an adult (if then because it’s pretty clear just from looking at him and his sundry medical equipment that yeah, he’s shougaisha). Nearly every time the staff shrugged and waived his entrance fee.

    Every single bus we rode in Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima was w/c Accessible, although often the driver stopped in such a wonky way he had to shift back and forth to get close enough to the curb for the ramp to work. Only some of Hiroshima’s famous street cars are Accessible (less than half), and those are the brand-new white ones displaying the universal blue / white disabled emblem.

    I just thought of this: a lot of big department stores have food halls in the basement and numerous restaurants on the top floors. They have elevators so should be pretty Accessible. Takashimaya is pretty upscale, along with the depaatos in the Ginza, so I’ll bet you will have a wonderful time eating in those!

    Have a wonderful trip, and KEEP DRY.

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