Disabled parking

  • Accessible Japan

    March 31, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    Hi @mailisa

    Thank you for contacting us.

    Since I don’t drive and do not have first-hand experience, I asked a friend about this.

    Basically, she has two items:

    • A handicap-mark sticker that she bought at a regular store, and is not from the government
    • She also has a 歩行困難者使用中 (basically “in-use by a person with difficulty walking”) paper which is from the government

    The one from the government is to allow idling on the side of the street.  (Unlike the US, most streets do not have parking spots on the side of the road, so this allows her to stop there to go into a supermarket etc for a short period. Basically so the police do not ticket her.)

    Disabled parking spaces are different and unrelated to the government paper.  According to my friend, disabled parking spots located in parking lots of shopping malls, tourist attractions etc, are not enforced by law, just public manners.  So, anyone without a disability could park there without getting a ticket.  She uses the other sticker she bought at the store just to indicate to others she is disabled.

    So, from my understanding parking on the side of the road is illegal without the government paper – but as a visitor it is not something you would likely need to do. since it is only for going into stores for less than 30 minutes.  Parking in a disabled parking space does not require a permit, and is not enforced by law.

    Therefore bringing your disabled permit will not necessarily gain you any protection/benefit directly, but it might be nice to have so others are more lenient when they see your car parked in a disabled parking space.  (Though you might lose it while traveling, so it might not be worth bringing if it doesn’t really get you anything.)

    If you plan to stay in mostly in cities, it may be much easier to use the train/bus system as it is very accessible and you can reach nearly any destination.

    I hope that is clear!  If not, please ask!


  • alison

    March 31, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    The reply from Accessible Japan is pretty much correct from my experience in traveling a lot by car with a Japanese person who is disabled.  Disabled parking spaces at stores/tourist sights in Japan are usually only enforced by the honor system.

    Your disabled parking permit from the US will likely have no validity in Japan.  Since it is a valuable document and you don’t want to lose it, it would make more sense to pick up an extra wheelchair sticker/magnet before you visit or buy one at the 100 yen shop (dollar store) when you arrive in Japan.   Some users with disabilities will put a blue wheelchair sticker or a blue clover sticker (used indicate that the driver is disabled) on their vehicle to identify to others that they have a reason to use the parking space, but it is not mandatory.

    If your disability is easy for others to identify (use a walking aid, wheelchair etc) it is unlikely anyone will hassle you while using the disabled parking  spot, even without a sticker.  Even if your disability is less visible to others most Japanese will not engage in confrontation, but you may have more peace of mind if you display a sticker.  Also, as a tip, if you have an extra wheelchair sticker handy it is helpful to show it to the parking lot attendants when you enter the parking lot and they will immediately direct you to the disabled parking area.

    The other document (“in use by someone with difficulty walking”) is an official piece of paper distributed by the prefectural police department to those with mobility difficulties and from what I understand it is only valid within that particular prefecture. It is also my understanding that that document is only available to residents of Japan with disability identification called “Shogaisha Techo”障害者手帳 (which foreign visitors do not possess and can not be interchanged with other foreign issued disability ID). This document which goes by the name of 除外対象使用中 “Jogai taisho shiyochu” in Aichi Prefecture is show in the picture below.  It allows the users to park in areas that are usually off-limits or without having to pay for metered parking etc. in certain areas.


  • mailisa

    April 1, 2018 at 6:04 am

    Thank you very much for your answers!!

  • Accessible Japan

    April 1, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Thank you for the real-world confirmation @Alison!

    @mailisa, any time!  Feel free to ask any other questions you may have (^_^)

  • Suzanne

    April 1, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    I agree with all of the above. Most likely, an American parking permit would mean nothing in Japan. I have never gotten around to getting a parking pass for my car, but I do put one of those blue wheelchair signs in the window, and I have never been denied disabled parking when with my daughter.

  • grant

    June 12, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    Hello everyone,

    I’m quite late to the discussion here but hopefully this may get bumped somewhere it can be seen and be of use. I holiday in Japan every year for at least a month or two and whilst I absolutely adore the JR Green Car Rail Pass, I love driving more and will usually just hire a car and head into the countryside to explore. I have an Australian Disability Parking Permit and was chuffed to find out a few years ago that it is in fact valid for use in Japan as well as a heap of other countries.


    The “International Transport Forum” is a global body that regulates certain rules amongst 60 member countries which also includes Japan, Australia and the USA. Long story short, the following applies:

    The ITF has adopted Resolution no. 97/4 on Reciprocal Recognition of Parking Badges for Persons with Mobility Handicaps, facilitating reciprocity when it comes to Disabled parking permits between its member states

    As I drive a lot in Japan, I’ve had a few occasions where either a police officer, a car parking attendant or just a random someone has approached me and queried my right to park in a disabled parking spot. Obviously as a white guy driving a rental car, I stand out, especially in the boonies that I like to explore but, once I show my International Drivers LIcence and my AU disability permit and explain that it’s valid in Japan, everyone is super nice about it.

    I suppose the point is that you can park legally without any guilt and if anyone ever did try to give you a ticket or infringement notice, it would not be valid.

  • Accessible Japan

    June 16, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you so much for that great information!

    If you have any other tips, or experiences etc to share, please feel free to start new discussions as well!

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