Query about an Accessible Tour Company in Japan

  • Query about an Accessible Tour Company in Japan

    Posted by Mak on September 3, 2023 at 2:06 pm

    Hi, I just found Accessible Japan. We travelled in 2015 to Japan with 5 people, one my adult son for 3 weeks, He used a manual wheelchair with a Speedy attachment, which gave him mobility independence. We went through an Australian company that supposedly specialised in disability travel in Japan. We had a number of hiccups but at least we were able to contact them in Japan when we had problems and they were able to help us. We went to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka and travelled on the Shinkansen, general trains, private transport and Japan Airlines economy flight which had a disabled toilet (excellent).

    My son wishes to travel again to Japan in 2024 Autumn, we previously travelled in Winter (Dec/Jan, when there were not as many people).

    My question is, can anyone recommend a competent travel company for accessible travel, who understand disability and wheelchair access requirements, please, who we can get help with to organise a tour?

    My son has a list of places and tourist activities he wants to see and he requires a room with an accessible bathroom and access for a wheelchair. He also needs to have a support worker stay in the room with him, so an extra bed for them. And it MUST be NON-SMOKING.

    He wishes to travel for 2 to 3 weeks. There would be 5 people in his group. We do not necessarily need Japanese speaking guides.

    Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.

    Josh Grisdale replied 9 months, 3 weeks ago 4 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • Josh Grisdale

    Concierge
    September 3, 2023 at 2:59 pm

    Hello

    This is Josh from Accessible Japan. Hope the site helps you in getting started. Unfortunately we are not a travel agent and cannot create plans or book hotels etc (the law here is pretty strict about that here).

    The only travel agents I know that do accessible travel in Japan that could create a tour for you are:

    Ohayo Travel

    https://ohatra.com/en

    And Inside Japan Travel

    https://www.insidejapantours.com/self-guided-japan-holidays/i-wagrc/wheelchair-accessible-golden-route/

    Both can help you create something unique for your son.

    Also feel free to ask questions here though, we’re here to help!

  • Mak

    Member
    September 3, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks Josh, I think it was Inside Travel we went through in 2015. I have not heard of Ohatra, I will check them out. I appreciate your suggestions. Thanks for the clarification, I totally understood that Accessible Japan is not a Travel agent or guide (tour company).

    • Josh Grisdale

      Concierge
      September 3, 2023 at 3:10 pm

      I started Accessible Japan in 2015 and was later contacted by Inside Japan Tours about training for their guides. Afterwards they started the tour I linked too. So, I believe they have really upped their game since then. But, contact both and see what works best for your situation.

    • Christy

      Member
      September 4, 2023 at 5:48 pm

      Hi Josh,

      Greetings! This is Christy from Hong Kong and I am now working on a NGO called “No Limits” in Hong Kong. The platform strives to create a barrier-free environment enabling artists and audiences to explore and promote inclusiveness through the arts, featuring in-venue and online programmes by international and Hong Kong artists of diverse abilities. Programmes cover film, music, dance, and theatre, and defy constraints and boundaries. The project also invests heavily in arts education for young people, offering experiences designed to nurture students’ interest in the arts and enable them to share the joy of creativity together with people of diverse abilities. (Home – 無限亮 No Limits)

      We wish to in contact with you as next year we are having a symposium with the theme of “Accessibility in Lifestyle”. We would like to find a suitable speaker to speak about/introduce accessible travelling in Japan right now and promote inclusiveness to our audiences.

      Let us know if we can be in contact. We can organize a zoom meeting in chatting more.

      My email : [email protected]

      Thank you : )

    • Josh Grisdale

      Concierge
      September 4, 2023 at 10:47 pm

      Thank you for reaching out. Now that we are connected, please send me a direct message.

    • Carlos

      Member
      September 3, 2023 at 3:24 pm

      I can attest to INSIDE JAPAN TOURS. I have only called them to inquire about 2025 travel. They were respectful and didn’t talk down to me. (Too many do that when I tell them I have a disability.) They listened to what I wanted to do. I could tell they would let me be in charge of my trip.

      Have your son contact them so he can start planning his trip. (I’m more for the actual person with the disability taking charge of trip planning. It teaches them to be independent in that aspect of their life.) Not sure where you’re located, but they have a US office if your son is here in the States.

    • Mak

      Member
      September 3, 2023 at 3:33 pm

      Hi Carlos, thanks for your reply re Inside Japan Tours. I think the fact that Inside Japan Tours got Josh involved in 2015 to guide them in their accessibility journey within Japan would have definitely lifted their game. Prior to that, they were pretending to know about accessibility but had not actually lived it. It makes a huge difference having a person who is living it giving them advice. We live in Australia. Inside Travel Japan Tours had an office in Sydney back in 2015, we live in Melbourne, but did all communication by phone and email. My son gets involved in everything relating to his trip. I am his secretary as he cannot speak on the phone or type very well, so I am his dogs body, so to speak, lol. He has given me a full list of all the places he wishes to visit and a time frame and the season he wishes to travel in. Hence me beginning the investigating now, it takes us about 12 months preparation for a trip overseas.

    • Carlos

      Member
      September 3, 2023 at 3:38 pm

      Understandable that you do the talking. I’m verbal, but I have friends who are nonverbal. Too often, even with them using voice relay, companies will be impatient and hang up on them or be very rude and disrespectful. I’ve even witnessed this myself with my friend at a restaurant and berated the horrible person who ignored my friend.

  • Mak

    Member
    September 3, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    Inside Travel would definitely have benefited from your help and knowledge and support.
    We travelled in 2015 to Japan, with our adult son who used a manual wheelchair and the Speedy attachment. It was very interesting. The Shinkansen was extremely precious about travelling with the Speedy attachment and at some stations we were able to take it on board without wrapping it up and at others we had to wrap the whole thing up until you could not see any of it, the wheels, everything and get it onto the station like that. A Speedy is very hard to maneuver and is heavy when you cannot wheel it. The older Japanese Station employees were wonderful but the younger generation were very strict and had no empathy.
    On the regular trains we had no problem.
    Lifts were interesting and our son sometimes just fitted with the wheelchair, himself and the Speedy, sometimes another p[erson could manage to fit in with him. And other times some of our party would have to go up in the lift first and then send him up on his own and the rest of our party came up last.
    Accessible bathrooms were okay, the travel company got them correct most of the time. We planned our trip well in advance and only had the problem that we could not get rooms on the same floor as the accessible floor. So our party was separated and the support worker and our son were on one floor and the other members were always on different floors of a hotel.
    We had a major issue with rooms in Japan which are accessible and have had a person in them that has smoked. We had to move hotels due to this reason. Our son has asthma and the accessible room stunk of smoke. The hotel tried everything to clean it but it did not work. Thankfully we had booked through a travel agency and we were able to contact them and they were able to move us to another hotel, eventually, but it took time and was not a pleasant experience at all.
    We had Japanese guides in every place we went to and only one city did we find a guide was not knowledgeable about accessibility and would not take us to certain areas we wanted to go to because of our sons wheelchair, this was disappointing.
    The normal railway system is difficult with the lift system, if anyone in your party goes up the stairs, you may find that the lift you take with your wheelchair arrives at a completely different street to where the stairs are. Be aware of this. We found this on a number of occasions and we were glad we had our mobile phones. It was quite stressful to begin with.

    Once we overcame all of these “joys” of travelling Japan with a wheelchair and Speedy attachment, we had a great trip. Planning is key. Dec/Jan was a great time to travel as it was a lot quieter than other seasons and our son had plenty of room when sightseeing especially in Tokyo.
    Inside Travel did not know any of this. We were educating them.

  • Mak

    Member
    September 3, 2023 at 3:23 pm

    That is great to know.

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