When should I visit Japan in a wheelchair?

  • When should I visit Japan in a wheelchair?

    Posted by Ash on April 29, 2022 at 5:44 am

    Hello! My fiance and I are planning to visit Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, & Osaka) sometime next year. We were originally planning to come during cherry blossom season but now I’m wondering if things would be easier if we came during a less-touristy time. I’m a wheelchair user so I’m thinking about crowds, availability of barrier-free rooms, etc. Do things get much more crowded during cherry blossom season? Would it still be manageable? Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

    Rob Dyer replied 3 weeks, 4 days ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Josh Grisdale

    Moderator
    May 1, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    Hi!

    Sorry for the late reply.

    Honestly, yes things are a bit busier during Sakura season, must mostly at the famous places. But everyone is on a regular work schedule so weekdays are not particularly crowded. Perhaps retired people travel more during this time, but it is my impression that most people go to local areas more. Maybe @therealjapan can give some good advice.

    Right now it is Golden Week where a bunch of holidays line up and everyone can travel more so trains, hotels and planes are all booked up. So, golden week, Obon and New Years is the worst time to travel.

    But, if you want to see the Sakura, you can totally do it in a wheelchair. Maybe just plan your hotels etc a bit earlier. The famous places like Ueno Park will be hard to get around due to the crowds (though not impossible!) but there are also many local parks that are beautiful and perhaps more authentic. If it isn’t your goal to see the Sakura then maybe aim for a different time.

    Hoping this helps!

  • Rob Dyer

    Member
    May 1, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Ash (thanks for the tag @joshgrisdale )

    Sakura season is beautiful, of course, but as Josh says, be prepared for pretty much every popular and accessible spot to be rammed – largely by locals. Golden Week aside, it’s just about the most busy period in Japan (both for international and national tourism). Inevitably this can push the prices of things like hotels up, so just worth bearing that in mind.

    It is still a wonderful experience but you’ll need to time your visit well and there will be an element of luck as to how much blossom you’ll see as the season can be quite shortlived. However, if you’re able to potentially view the blossom in different areas/cities then you’ll give yourselves a better chance of catching it.

    (The blossom appears at different times during the year depending on where in the country you are, but the cities you mention the window will generally be between late-March and mid-April). This introductory post to sakura viewing might help:
    https://www.therealjapan.com/sakura-guide-to-cherry-blossom-festivals-in-japan/

    Alternatively, you might instead want to consider coming to Japan in late autumn for the spectacular displays of autumn/fall leaves. This season last much longer than the cherry blossom and so is easier to predict and plan for. Autumn in Japan is a wonderful season – possibly my favourite.

    In central Honshu (and the cities you mention) it is mostly during the second half of October and into November that the best displays can be seen.

    I’ve written a detailed guide to some of the best autumn leave viewing spots here:
    https://www.therealjapan.com/viewing-autumn-leaves-in-japan/

    Hope this info and those posts help.

    Rob

  • Ash

    Member
    May 3, 2022 at 3:47 am

    Thank you so much @joshgrisdale and @therealjapan for your informative responses! Looks like I have a lot to consider. Autumn in Japan is sounding like a really good option!

    • Josh Grisdale

      Moderator
      May 4, 2022 at 2:26 pm

      A pleasure!

      The group is here to help you get to Japan, so keep sending us questions!

    • Rob Dyer

      Member
      June 10, 2022 at 8:13 pm

      Hope your travel planning is going well Ash?

      Feel free to ask questions on any of my blog posts – I read and answer every one.

      Rob

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