Planning trip to Japan!

  • Planning trip to Japan!

    Posted by Mary on October 24, 2023 at 5:54 pm

    Hello! I’m an ambulatory wheelchair user and I’m planning a trip to Japan soon, along with my disabilities… I know there’s something called the “help mark” is that something even a foreigner can get? or should I bring my own self identifying cards, etc?

    also any recommendations as a wheelchair user on how to get around etc will be much appreciated! My partner will be traveling with me as well. (he is abled bodied)

    (I’m trying to teach myself Japanese so I can advocate etc when I travel there I’m allergic to shrimp so I want to have a card for that haha I want to have sushi and not die TT)

    alliejay replied 7 months, 4 weeks ago 4 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • schroth-sensei

    October 24, 2023 at 7:30 pm

    Hello Mary,

    Generally Speaking the only Disability ID recognized in Japan isn’t obtainable by foreigners. Some countries that do have Disability ID’s may be difficult to use because it isn’t in Japanese and so the language barrier may be an issue. If your country does have one, I’d bring it anyway because some places are less strict and may give a discount (i.e. I’ve been to the Ueno Museum a few times for free without any ID but I’m very obviously in a wheelchair with a disability), but never count on it.

    Check here for more info on Japanese disability ID’s:

    As for a using it for help with trains, just being in a wheelchair is usually enough to get help. Just head to the staff located in the booth beside the ticket turnstiles, and almost always you just need to tell them your destination (sometimes “slope” which means you need to use a portable ramp to enter the train), then you typically wait near the booth for a staff member with a slope who will take you to your train! Very convenient to get around most of Japan, I did my entire first trip getting around Japan with trains alone, and a 90-day trip with almost all trains (~95%) except 5-bus rides (~5%)! So, I recommend trains.

    More info here on trains:

    Note though if you are traveling long distances, Bullet trains, Limited, Express, Excursion type trains may require booking in advance to get accessible seats.

    Also, city buses are very accessible, Accessible-Japan has info on them as well.

    As for your allergy, check here:

    With 海老 meaning “shrimp, prawn” you can state on a card:

    ⦁ Does this contain shrimp?: 海老が入っていますか? (ebi ga haite masu ka?)

    ⦁ I have a shrimp allergy. : 海老アレルギーを持っています (ebi arerugii o motte masu)

    As well as more useful phrases!

    If you have any additional questions please ask, otherwise I hope that helps,


    • Mary

      October 25, 2023 at 1:18 am

      Thank you! This is definitely what I needed! 🙂 I’ll make sure to memorize these phrases (and have them maybe in my notes just in case haha)

      That’s awesome sounds like Japan is very accessible. New York does not feel that way (I used to live there but I never needed a wheelchair when I did) I live in Australia now and it seems very accessible as well.

      Do you know anything about the “help mark”? (the disability keychain thing one with invisible disabilities would use) is that only for citizens/residents? Its so unique I wish it would become a thing everywhere its handy. I’m thinking of designing my own.
      I follow a Youtuber named Martina/King Kogi and she lives in Japan now I’ve noticed she has it she has EDS. I love her videos, however I’ve always been interested in visiting.

  • schroth-sensei

    October 25, 2023 at 12:15 pm


    I don’t know much about “help mark,” from what I can find it may be possible to get as a foreigner. I found this with some specific locations on where to obtain one:

    Nevertheless, I haven’t tried to get one so I can’t say for certain. I’m not sure he needs/has one, but @joshgrisdale do you know about foreigners getting a “help mark?”


  • alliejay

    October 27, 2023 at 12:41 am

    Hi Mary:

    Ambulatory wheelchair user here as well. My partner and I travelled to Japan in the spring. I don’t know if you have been there before, but I think you’re going to love it!

    Overall, I found most places were pretty accessible but this community here will always answer any specific questions you might have. I did not request the pass/ID that you mentioned but we did reasonably well on our own. The signage is good even if you speak no Japanese (I do not), but it’s helpful to know how to say a few words like thank you and excuse me (especially when you are trying to get around someone with your chair).

    Hope you have a fabulous time!

    • Mary

      October 27, 2023 at 4:37 pm

      sounds like fun! I can’t wait to go sounds like its super accessible so I’m not too scared anymore. 🙂 next is saving up for said trip. Was Spring ok? (other than being pricier) i’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle the crowds very well if its too busy so i’m thinking of going off season the first time to get a feel of it and then plan another trip to go in the spring? unless there’s an in-between time before or after where I can see the cherry blossoms before it gets too crazy?

    • alliejay

      October 27, 2023 at 11:17 pm

      I am with you on crowds – not a fan of heat either (my condition worsens with heat). I found spring a great time to visit (and see cherry blossoms!).

      In a country as populous as Japan, crowds are always present (some times more than others). But I think what you will find is that people are EXTREMELY respectful of personal space. Apart from rush hour, I found that there was ample room in trains and stations. I really had no trouble with my wheelchair and the cane. Like you, my partner was with me which makes everything infinitely easier.

  • Josh Grisdale

    October 27, 2023 at 10:53 am


    Yes, you can get a help mark at the subway stations in Tokyo (Toei ones for sure, maybe Tokyo Metro too). But it is mostly for people with invisible disabilities, not those in wheelchairs (of course it is OK to get one though!). It is not an official certification / ID etc, and I think anyone can just ask for it on an honor system.

    The main reasoning behind it is if you have an invisible disability, having this tag will encourage others to offer you a seat. Or if you are sitting in the priority seating, it lets other people know that even though you don’t look like you need the priority seats, you actually do need them.

    • Mary

      October 27, 2023 at 4:35 pm

      Thank you for the reply! Reason I asked is because im ambulatory so sometimes I will walk unassisted thought that would be helpful, but nowadays I do use a cane as well.

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