Tokyo vs Kyoto for Hanami, Japanese Theater, and Geisha

  • Tokyo vs Kyoto for Hanami, Japanese Theater, and Geisha

    Posted by Jay on October 31, 2022 at 9:24 pm

    As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, my wife and I are in our mid-70s. I have COPD, and I require a walker whenever possible and a cane when not — meaning that stairs, difficult inclines, and rough terrain are very challenging.

    Given our interests, we’ve been thinking that Kyoto might be the ideal destination, but getting there also seems more difficult: porting two weeks worth of luggage for two, by train, while using a walker is no easy task. So my question is three-fold:

    1.) Am I overestimating the difficulty of travel to Kyoto?

    2.) Am I underestimating Tokyo as a possible destination?

    3.) Should we choose Tokyo, what might be the best area in which to stay given our interests?

    Thank you.

    Jay replied 3 weeks, 6 days ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • schroth-sensei

    Member
    November 1, 2022 at 4:07 am

    Hello again Jay,

    If only taking what you are interested into consideration, Kyoto could be the best option for more traditional/historical sites (there are many: https://www.accessible-japan.com/wheelchair-accessible-travel-destinations-and-tourist-attractions-in-kyoto/), while Tokyo has more modern innovations.

    That being said, you can find very nice examples of traditional attractions even in Tokyo. If you want to see some traditional arts in Tokyo check out The Kabukiza Theater (very cool with audio interpretation) or the National Noh Theater, if you want some shrines then there is Sensoji, Nezu Jinja, or the lovely Meiji Jingu (more here: https://www.accessible-japan.com/wheelchair-accessible-travel-destinations-and-tourist-attractions-in-tokyo/), and if you like museums definitely check out the Ueno Park Museum.

    Some things to consider, the closet airport to Kyoto is in Osaka, from there hauling your luggage will require going on a train and/or vehicle to a hotel in Kyoto. There are some options near stations in Kyoto so it may not be too much of an issue from the train but I can’t say for sure. Many of the attractions I visited in Kyoto are level and easy to get around, however, some like Kiyomizu-dera are a bit of a trek and even has a pretty steep hill at one part.

    Getting to destinations in Kyoto will rely on bus, taxi, or car if not more walking. The train/metro system in Kyoto isn’t super extensive, while in Tokyo you can get near most places solely by them.

    If you want to carry less luggage, look for a place with laundry facilities. I did this when I stayed in a “Weekly Mansion” (essentially an apartment building turn into hotel rental) in Osaka, so at the end of the first week we did some laundry at the machines on the first floor.

    Lastly, if you have access to, and can use, a manual wheelchair (or maybe a collapsible power assisted wheelchair, preferably not a scooter) then you may want consider using it. You’ll find many places willing to help you if they can. For example, station staff will help getting you on the right trains.

    I hope that helps,

    -Justin

  • TabiFolk

    Organizer
    November 1, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    Excellent points by Justin.

    If your main focus is hanami, you can find it in any city. However, I would say Kyoto is more pink than Tokyo.

    Also, as Justin mentioned, it is a bit harder to get around. I would add that Kyoto is in a valley surrounded by hills making some areas rather hilly. Tokyo is much flatter.

    However, I think there are ways to overcome the different challenges that come up (and we are here to help!), so I think it is best to chose a place you want to see and try to work through the challenges. If you are looking for a travel agent specializing in accessible travel in Japan, I would be sure to get in touch with Ohayo Travel ( @ohayotravel )

  • Jay

    Member
    November 2, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you both for your replies.

    Since I am focusing on Spring of 2024, I have a few months before settling on a destination but, whatever I decide, it’s likely to be expensive and I simply can’t afford to make a mistake.

    By the way, I generally require a (collapsable) rollator. While these are problematic on rough terrains (and worthless on stairs), I can certainly manage long strolls on paved paths so long as I can pace myself. Also, one possibility might be to reduce the trip fro three to two weeks and used to money saved for cabs where needed.

    Finally, thank you for the travel agency link.

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