take train in wheelchair

  • take train in wheelchair

    Posted by farid on February 11, 2024 at 2:22 am


    We plan to travel in June with a group of 4, including 2 people in power wheelchairs. We will first arrive in Osaka airport and then proceed directly to Kyoto (with the haruka express) a few days later. We also plan to visit Tokyo, with the shinkansen.

    I would like to know the best way to reserve our tickets to ensure reserved seating. Is it easier to do this in advance or once we are on-site?, Can both trains we’re taking accommodate two people in wheelchairs?

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    Best regards

    Jul replied 5 months, 1 week ago 4 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Amy

    February 11, 2024 at 2:53 am

    I’d like to follow this question, because although I am not in a wheelchair, I do have mobility issues due to knee surgery, and my walking is kind of slow. I have seen however, a video on Youtube which shows that people in wheelchairs are often greeted at their stops in train stations by a train attendant who is waiting for the train (Usually the last car) and has a folding ramp which is laid out in front of the exit once the doors open. Obviously, arrangements might have to be made right at the stations. So it makes me see that the trains in Japan, at least in Tokyo, are very friendly when it comes to people with mobility challenges. See short clip: https://youtube.com/shorts/HaY3FtaVQOk?si=E8LUYzqBFT6wsvc2

  • Jul

    February 11, 2024 at 3:33 am


    We travelled last august .

    We took a jr pass from France ( it has to be booked outside of Japan. )

    We didn’t have to reserve seats because there are seats Where you can go without réservation .

    And, if you want you can book seats At the stations .

    • schroth-sensei

      February 11, 2024 at 5:11 am

      Hello Jul,

      Just to clarify. While you can book tickets without reserving seats, if someone who boards at a later part of the trip does reserve the seats and/or wheelchair space you happen to be sitting in, then you have to move to another space that is open. This could be very problematic for a wheelchair user as the walkways to accessible spaces aren’t typically big enough for a wheelchair to sit in AND allow people to pass by (meaning that you may have nowhere else to sit). So it’s recommended that you reserve your seats (especially if you’re going with multiple wheelchairs) if you want to stick together.

  • schroth-sensei

    February 11, 2024 at 4:53 am

    Hello Farid,

    Some limited and/or express trains may require special tickets to ride that need to be pre-purchased (this also includes Shinkansen/bullet trains). I ran into this while trying to go to Saiko Iyashi-no-seto Nenba [Traditional Japanese Village] and ride the Fuji Excursion (Chou line), as the alternative non-city sightseeing buses that go to this location are not accessible. I also took the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka years ago and bought similar tickets.

    If you can reserve your tickets ahead of time online, then I absolutely recommend doing so. However, I couldn’t book the seats I needed online; they were shown as begin not available (probably blocked out just for people with disabilities) but were bookable elsewhere.

    To get these tickets I had to talk to the ticket counter staff in a JR Travel Service Center (look for the green chair symbol in attached) at a major station (Shibuya in my case, but attached is a google picture of the Kyoto Station ticket office that should work), if you need accessible seating like me on reserved seating trains, inform them of your needs upfront (i.e. wheelchairs space), try to have all the train details (start/end locations, time leaving/returning, etc.) to make it easier, and book as early as you can. But be prepared for a wait, it took me an hour to get these tickets because they had to confirm the seats over two lines (but it was worth it).

    The limited/express/shinkansen trains that I have been on usually have just two spots available in the back next to each other (though there can be more spaces), so you may be able to find the seating you need. As for what Amy is referring to, you should be at the station early (maybe 30mins), tell them your destination or show your tickets, so that an attendant can get the slope (ramp) and take you to your train. This service is standard practice for those in a wheelchair at most stations and makes traveling by train in Japan so easy.

    If you haven’t already, check out the Transportation Section of Accessible Japan for more information about getting around Japan and so much more. Also, you may find some useful tips (including the ones I mentioned here) in my blog post on Accessible Japan titled Yokohama Life: What I Learned Living 90-days in Japan with a Disability.

    I hope that helps, but if you have any other questions, feel free to ask and we’ll try to get you an answer,

  • Jul

    February 11, 2024 at 3:33 pm

    Thank you justin for the information you gave. You know better than me.

    I just want to tell that it is Easier Than in France to travel with a wheelchair in trains/metro in japan and we didn’t have problems Over there.

    Enjoy your trip!

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