Taking Large Items Of Disability Equipment On Trains

  • Taking Large Items Of Disability Equipment On Trains

    Posted by Accessible Japan on October 6, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    From Jakob on the Accessible Japan website:

    I use an electric wheelchair for mobility.

    I usually travel in Australia with a hoist, and a shower chair. I plan on catching a train from Tokyo to Kyoto – will I be able to take the hoist and shower chair onto the train – is there a storage area for large items of equipment like my hoist and shower chair.



    Thanks for your question. We’ll search ask other people to answer, but according to Japan Guide:

    According to JR regulations, each passenger may bring up to two pieces of luggage onto trains, not including smaller bags. Each piece of luggage may not weight more than 30kg and its three dimensions (length, width and depth) may not add up to more than 250cm, while its length may not exceed 200cm.


    So, if you measure the length, height, and width of the hoist and then add up those three numbers, the number must be under 250cm.

    You may need to either send it by courier or rent equipment in Kyoto and leave your hoist in Tokyo.

    Also, most hotels have shower chairs (but without an opening in the seat).


    From Nevin:

    Accessible Japan would know better than me, but with my mother-in-law, who gets around in a wheelchair, we have found we need to actually reserve a wheelchair-accessible seat on a train well in advance (we usually just drive). Staff will actually help you board the train.

    It seems highly unlikely that you would be able to bring a hoist and chair with you, since JR East and JR West trains (JR Kyushu is an exception), including the bullet train, typically do not feature stowage space for large items of luggage.

    The luggage situation is such a pain in the ass that we always courier larger suitcases to our end destination. It costs 2,000 yen (around $20) per item. On top of the limited stowage space in rail cars, lugging around larger pieces of luggage through train stations and city streets in Japan is a uniquely hellish experience.

    I’m almost certain that some items can be borrowed or rented at your destination.

    We have been to a number of hot spring hotels in central Japan (I have promised to write about some of them for Josh, lol) that cater to people who rely on wheelchairs.

    Sometimes (but sometimes not!) there is a hoist to get into the bath. I’ve found that most hot springs and public baths have a shower chair someplace.

    So that leaves the hoist. I’ll take a look around and see if there are any places in Kyoto that rent them out. If you want to connect, I can be found on Twitter at @nevin_thompson


    tylerpalma replied 6 years, 2 months ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • hannekedeenengmail-com

    April 13, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    Hi, I have a similar question, but this time regarding the Shinkansen/bullit train from Osaka to Hiroshima (and later on vice versa). I will be traveling in my powered wheelchair and bring a non-powered wheelchair. This last wheelchair would need to travel as luggage (it is foldable, but I have no idea if it would fit the stowage compartment overhead or if they would allow bringing it), or as a second wheelchair place and then one of my helps will sit in it.

    What are your ideas and experiences on that?

    In addition, I bring a big hardcase samsonite to fit the fragile parts of my powered wheelchair in. Is there any way to store this at the Kansai airport for approx two weeks? Or should I take it with me on the Shinkansen? I read somewhere that there is extra room behind the last chair in a row, would that hold the (folded) wheelchair and hardcase samsonite?

  • hannekedeenengmail-com

    April 13, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    And I forgot to mention: the same question for the JR line from Kansai International Airport to Hiroshima…


  • Accessible Japan

    April 14, 2018 at 9:42 am


    Regarding the cost of leaving the suitcase, please see this thread:

    For the Shinkansen, the official rule for luggage is:

    each passenger may bring up to two pieces of luggage onto trains, not including smaller bags. Each piece of luggage may not weight more than 30kg and its three dimensions (length, width and depth) may not add up to more than 250cm, while its length may not exceed 200cm

    This is the same for all lines of the Shinkansen.  So, you can bring two pieces, your helper can bring two pieces… but even with rules, there is a physical limitation on space (see pictures I have attached from the Japan Guide article on luggage (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2274.html)).  They state in the article that:

    Overhead shelves on shinkansen trains are about 40cm high and 60cm deep and cannot accommodate large items. There is usually space for two to three large suitcases behind the last row of seats in each car on most long distance trains

    If the wheelchair is a standard folding manual wheelchair, it could fit in behind the last row of seats (I have seen folded strollers there), but definitely not in the overhead.

    I don’t know how many other suitcases etc you will bring with you, but if it is just you (in your power chair), a help person, and a folding manual chair, it should be fine.  You could try to put the wheelchair behind the seats first, if that doesn’t work you can fold it and leave it on the deck between train carriages but make sure it is not blocking the door or aisle (as a courtesy, when the train is going to stop, your help person should go to the wheelchair and be ready to move it).

    Worst case scenario, your help person could sit in the wheelchair on the deck.  This would also be cheaper than the regular seats 🙂

    Some people transport pro bicycles as well (see pictures), so it should be ok… but it would be best to ask JR directly as well via their contact form:


    Hope this helps!

  • hannekedeenengmail-com

    April 16, 2018 at 3:34 am

    Great, that sounds like a solution (not cheap, as you mentioned) if we cannot take the (custom-made) suitcase with us on the train.

    Thank you very much!

  • tylerpalma

    April 16, 2018 at 10:11 am



    One great way to move luggage around while in Japan is via the great luggage forwarding system (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html). For under 20$ you can send quite large pieces of luggage, foldable wheelchairs, and other bits and pieces directly from one hotel to another. This can save a lot of hassle since lugging things through busy train stations is never fun. One thing to note is that this typically takes 24 hours so you would be without any sent luggage for one night.


    Hope this helps!

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