Hanami Kyoto for mobility challenged seniors

  • Hanami Kyoto for mobility challenged seniors

    Posted by Jay on July 8, 2022 at 12:46 am

    My wife and I are in our mid-70’s, and I am somewhat mobility impaired in that (a) I suffer from COPD and (b) I use a walker whenever feasible (and a cane otherwise). We would truly love to spend two to three weeks in Kyoto with a focus on Hanami and the performing arts. I’d like to know if this is even possible.

    Also, some have suggested that part of the charm of Kyoto is its size, and that does not warrant three weeks, and that we should perhaps consider adding to that itinerary. I would appreciate feedback on this as well.

    Major concerns include the accessibility of the relevant venues and the ease and accessibility of public transportation. This is in addition to the general concerns about navigating a city and culture that is totally foreign to as, and doing so at the height of its tourist season.

    It is my wife’s dream vacation and I would really love to make it happen.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    schroth-sensei replied 2 years ago 3 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • Josh Grisdale

    July 8, 2022 at 10:27 am

    Hi Jay,

    I went there this past spring for the Hanami. It is much better than Tokyo I found in terms of places to see Sakura. Actually, I wrote about it here:


    I was there for 2 days. But, there is so much to see that you could go really deep as well if you are there a long time. Also, it isn’t far from both Osaka and Nara, so you could make it your base of operations and also go to those cities for multiple day trips.

    The accessibility of each place differs wildly, so it is hard to summarize it easily. Feel free to ask about specific places in this thread, or start new discussions for each place if you want to go deep on a specific place.

    The one thing I can say is that transportation can be a challenge. The subways, trains and buses are all accessible. However, the buses are ridiculously packed with people. When getting on at the terminal it is fine, but trying to get on mid-route when you have a wheelchair – good luck! There is often literally no room to get on during peak hours. So, you may want to budget in using a taxi for places you cannot reach via train/subway.

    • Jay

      July 8, 2022 at 9:27 pm

      Thank you, Josh.

      It’s early here, and I will no doubt have some further questions. Here I just want to say how much I appreciate your link. Thanks, again.


    • Josh Grisdale

      July 9, 2022 at 1:37 pm

      My pleasure!

      Feel free to ask as much as you want, all of us here are to support you.

  • schroth-sensei

    July 10, 2022 at 2:56 am

    I just wanted to add a little of my experience in Kyoto and surrounding areas to give you some help planning. So you know, I used a manual wheelchair throughout the trip and my older brother was my caregiver. We stayed in Osaka for a week, using it as my HQ for visiting other areas. Not sure if it can be an option for you (assuming you’re not stuck on a tour package), but we rented a car, which a Japanese friend of mine drove for us. The roads and rules were definitely different than the US and even a bit hectic at times for my friend (who is used to the Tokyo area), so my brother was happy he didn’t have to drive.
    We saw downtown Osaka on foot, so we didn’t need the car there, trains were accessible and so was the beautiful Osaka Aquarium. Drove to Nara, saw the deer and great Buddha, parking wasn’t hard to find and lots of seating (though expect the deer to come up and beg). Drove to Kobe and over the longest suspension bridge in the world, visited downtown, finding parking was more difficult so used some trains (easy to use) and had a real Kobe beef dinner (wasn’t cheap, but very delicious). Drove to Iga-Ueno, it was a historical and fun Ninja themed area, parking wasn’t an issue. Took two days in Kyoto, parking was limited and so we were often on foot, didn’t have issues getting around on the streets but most sightseeing places varied in accessibility (e.g. Golden Pavilion: compacted rock paths, Sanjusangendo: easy access but no shoes in temple, Kiyomizu-dera: Paved but has a VERY steep hill on one side). We only touched a small portion of Kyoto in those two days, but it was worth it (even our rainy visit to the pavilion). Definitely check out Accessible Japan’s Kyoto section for more info if you haven’t already (https://www.accessible-japan.com/wheelchair-accessible-travel-destinations-and-tourist-attractions-in-kyoto/).

    Some things to consider if you do use a rental car:
    -Book a hotel parking space before arrival (I assumed we could at arrival, almost didn’t get a spot).
    -There may be limited car choices (size/model) available, we got one just big enough to fit my chair in the trunk.
    -Parking may be an issue at your destinations (in Kyoto we had to do a bit of foot travel just to get to/from parking).
    -Plan for toll road fees (we tried to avoid tolls on the first day, it was a significantly longer trip, so I just paid tolls the rest of the time).
    -GPS may have English, but don’t count on it (our driver was Japanese so wasn’t an issue).

    I hope that helps,

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