Hakodate, Japan

Old Apr 15th, 2016, 11:57 AM
  #1  
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Hakodate, Japan

I have mobility limitations and want, very much, to find a tour or tour guide for Hakodate, Japan. Our cruise ship (Celebrity Millennium) has zero tours for people like me who have limited walking ability. Does anyone have a recommendation?

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Old Apr 15th, 2016, 01:10 PM
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I've no personal experience with a guide, but see here, under interpretation/guide services: http://www.hakodate.travel/en/basic-...-guidebook.pdf

I visited Hakodate a couple of years ago (by train) and I also have mobility issues. I did it on my own but some of it will be difficult no matter how you go. The Russian Orthodox Church is on a precipitous slope but it is possible to get a car (I took a taxi) right there. The Old English Consulate (now a shop) is a bit lower down the same slope and a car can get there too.

The Goryokaku park with the fort is very extensive and I don't think any vehicles are allowed inside (I certainly didn't see any). There's an observation tower that is worth it to see the star shape of the fort but beware that the elevator takes you to the top but not all the way back down again: you are forced to descend a flight of stairs at the top to go through a shopping area, then the same thing a couple of flights up from the bottom.

The other sights are mostly along the level (there's a tramway). I didn't take the ropeway up the mountain.
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Old Apr 15th, 2016, 01:38 PM
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Let me add that, in general, Japan is fairly OK for those with mobility issues. There's no equivalent of the ADA but most train and subway stations have escalators or elevators, though you have to search and sometimes ask for the elevator.

Quite often there are escalators going up but not down, whereas anyone with walking difficulties knows that what you want is the opposite. I once got a lady at the monorail station by the cruise port in Kobe to turn the escalator around just for me, but it was a quiet time.

In big stations without escalators you often use one elevator for a couple of floors, then have to find a different one for the next few. Kyoto station is one of the worst: you need to go outside and use an elevator in the street to make one transfer. Sometimes you must use an elevator in a connected department store: one of the stops on the Hankyu line in Kyoto is like this, and also one of the exits of Shinjuku in Tokyo.

Temples and sightseeing spots are highly variable. Some have no provision, others have but it is not obvious. For example, the Usa Shrine on Kyushu has an unbroken 3-storey flight of concrete steps and looks hopeless. But hidden underneath is a tiny self-operated funicular!

So enjoy your cruise and keep your eyes peeled for hidden aids.
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Old Apr 15th, 2016, 07:31 PM
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The view from the mountain at the top of the ropeway gets some hype there and it is nice, but it is not the Corcovado or Victoria Peak. So, no worries if you find it inaccessible, though I don't remember that it was or not.
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Old Apr 17th, 2016, 08:50 PM
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Recommended to me: Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel Inc. ([email protected]).

As I mentioned on the cruise forum, however, they do require a deposit within 10 days of your scheduled arrival at the port, so if the ship does not stop there for whatever reason, you will lose your deposit.

You might inquire of the ship's tour department whether they might be able to accommodate you. If this were possible, you lose nothing if the ship bypasses the port, and the ship will wait for you or make special arrangements if there is an emergency and you are late getting back.
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Old Apr 12th, 2017, 11:34 AM
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It is now 1 year later and I can answer my own question. The Hakodate Goodwill Guide association is a group of volunteers whose goal is "to contribute to an international friendship between nations". As such, they offer free tours around Hakodate with only a very minimal charge (3,000 yen per group)and the request that you pay your guide's public transportation expenses and any meals. Tours are tailored to your interests and limitations. What a deal!

Oh yes, we are bringing a small,inexpensive gift from home (Florida) for our guide.

http://hakodategoodwill.com/indexeng.html

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