Segway as disability vehicle in Japan?

  • Segway as disability vehicle in Japan?

    Posted by Corine on August 25, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Hi there. I’m new to this forum. I’m a high school teacher in New Zealand, and am taking some students to Japan in December this year. One of the students uses a Segway as her mobility scooter after losing the use of one of her hips following a serious infection. We are trying to find out if it would be possible to bring the Segway with her to Japan, or if not, if it is possible to hire one in Japan for two weeks. If that were possible, then do the Japanese authorities accept Segways as a mobility device, or just as a recreational device…? In other words, would she be able to use all the wheelchair accessible features at train stations etc? I’ve tried to Google this, but I haven’t been able to find anything helpful yet… She is not really able to use a wheelchair due to the angle at which her hip was fused, hence the Segway. Thanks so much in advance for any advice 🙂

    wilgo replied 5 years, 7 months ago 4 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • wilgo

    August 25, 2018 at 4:25 pm


    As long as I know, nobody is allowed to drive Segway here in Japan, except the cases where the special permission are given by the road traffic law, such as special events or experimental researches how Segway works on public roads.  It’s not a good information for you and your student, sorry to say.

    I will check the latest regulation and status about Segway in public places.


  • Accessible Japan

    August 25, 2018 at 5:39 pm


    If you are talking about a regular Segway, then it will definitely not be allowed to be ridden on the train, you would need to carry it.

    It may be ok on the street but I’m not sure.

    If it is a wheelchair with an elevated leg rest, could that work?


  • Joan Pahisa

    August 25, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Dear Corine,

    As far as I know, it’s not even possible to use a Segway on the streets. Last year, I tried to obtain a permit in order to use a Segway in Japan through an association for disabled people that talked with the Transportation Ministry and it was impossible to get it. Apparently, for residents, the most that you can get is a permit to be able to use it in a certain area or city ward talking to the municipality or the police in that area, but that’s not useful at all for tourism or for riding public transportation. I also have a disability and I used a Segway in Spain, but in Japan no exceptions are usually made. Segways are not considered mobility devices. Actually, the list of mobility devices allowed is really short, thus I decided to move to a wheelchair.

    Nevertheless, while spending this year in Osaka, I haven’t seen any Segway, but I’ve seen those one-wheel balancing devices, which I don’t know its name, used on the streets. They might have had those area permits…

    Hopefully Wilgo or Accessible Japan will help you find a solution. The best of luck to you and your student. Japan is really a wonderful place to visit. If you decide to risk coming with the Segway, though I can tell you that riding trains will be a real hassle, as you will need to carry the Segway if lucky, and you might be stopped by the police, which I was told trying to get the permit, put many stickers on it with the wheelchair sign.

    Best regards!

  • Accessible Japan

    August 25, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you Joan and Wilco for the information.

    Since a Segway is not possible, would a wheelchair with an elevated footrest (ie foot going straight forward) work? I know a company that could arrange it.

  • Corine

    August 26, 2018 at 6:08 am

    Thanks for your comments so far. Ellie’s left hip is fused to her femur bone at a certain angle (I’m not sure of the exact angle, but more than 100 degrees) so it is not comfortable for her to sit for a long period of time. But if a Segway is out of the question, we’d have to consider a wheelchair, possibly with a leg rest (but at a certain angle, not straight out). Let me get some exact details of angles etc. Another suggestion has been to use a handbike, so I’m also looking into that, although they are so much bulkier… I’m so grateful for all your suggestions and good wishes as I’m so determined to make this trip a success for her!

  • Accessible Japan

    August 26, 2018 at 8:09 am

    Hi again,

    Sorry we haven’t found a good solution yet. By handbike, do you mean something like this?


    If so, you may be ok on the street (though maybe Joan and Wilgo can confirm?) but you will need to leave it outside of most stores / restaurants and definitely have to remove it every time you ride the train (since it is too long and cannot turn tight enough).

    Again, sorry this is less than ideal but let’s get your student to Japan!

  • wilgo

    August 26, 2018 at 9:44 pm


    It looks a three-wheel bicycle which is common and allowed on the street in Japan.  So it would be OK on the street.

    However, as already mentioned, it would be difficult to bring it into the train, buses, restrooms and restaurants.

  • Joan Pahisa

    August 27, 2018 at 1:32 am

    In order to bring a mobility device onto public transportation in Japan it cannot surpass a certain size in width, height and length (height was 90cm I think). As said, a handbike would be alright on the street, but not possible to get on trains and such, much less if it’s a one piece handbike.

    Another option that I can think of is to rent or bring a mobility scooter. Mobility scooters have a platform that she can step on and she could even try to ride it while standing, depending on her height and the bulk of the seat. If she could have a custom seat or have a riser on the seat so that she could have her fused leg in the correct position, it might be comfortable enough. As there’s a platform, you could try to put something to act as a footrest. I would try it in New Zealand before going to Japan.

    Keep us up to date with the solution that you find.

  • wilgo

    August 27, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Hi, Corine:

    Today, I’ve got a message from Segway Japan telling that it’s not allowed for anyone to drive Segway on the streets, and that they are trying hard to get a permission from the authority, which is unsure when it happens.

    It’s not good and positive information for you, but this forum will be assisting you and your student for the trip to Japan.


Log in to reply.

Skip to content