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jtgarland Feb 17th, 2016 08:45 AM

Sightseeing in Japan with Mobility Issues
Does anyone have advice on interesting places to visit in Japan for someone with mobility issues? I do not need a wheelchair, but cannot walk for long distances or use more that 20 stairs at a time.

We will be in Japan for 3 days and would like to fill our time touring. We will be based either in Toyko or Osaka (depending on flights and suggestions), and do not mind using the train.

Thanks for any help you give.

kja Feb 17th, 2016 09:04 PM

My memories could well be faulty, so PLEASE don't take my suggestions as anything other than ideas to be researched. With that caveat:

Much of what I visited in Tokyo was fairly flat, including the area around Asakusa, Hama Rikyu, and Ginza, and I'm sure other areas -- but I didn't spend much time in Tokyo.

Other places in Japan: Maybe Nara? Kurashiki? Hiroshima? Koya-San? (Not the easiest place to reach, but I wouldn't think that mobility issues would prevent getting there, and once there, much of the area is relatively flat IIRC.)

(I know you are getting info on your options in Kyoto on a separate thread:

If you only have 3 days for ALL of your time in Japan, and have the option of working around flights to either Tokyo or Osaka, then I would think you would want to choose between modern Japan with a touch of the traditional (Tokyo, staying there for the whole time) or focusing on traditional Japan (spending all your time in Nara or possibly Kyoto -- IME, there would be more than enough to fill your time in that area, even with mobility limitations). JMO.

Good luck!

CaliforniaLady Feb 17th, 2016 09:15 PM

I suggest basing yourself in Tokyo, since you have only three days. Temple walking in Kyoto involves alot of, well, walking. Four interesting activities come to mind in Tokyo which you can enjoy seated:

1. Tea ceremony at a fancy hotel. It's quite a fun and interesting experience, and you are seated the whole time.

2. Baseball game. You don't have to like baseball to enjoy a Japanese baseball game. It's all about watching the vendors and the fans.

3. Sumo wrestling match or practice. We actually were able to observe a practice session. The concierge at the Marriott arranged it for us.

4. Boat ride to Odaiba. The boat ride to the island of Odaiba is beautiful and relaxing. You can also go the the fun Toyota museum when you get there, but you may have to stand a bit there. You can also test drive new cars on a track, but you have to possess an international driver license.

You can also just sit in a cafe and people watch, which is quite fun. I do tons of wandering when I travel, but sometimes, I just plop myself down on a bench, or in a cafe for an hour or so, and just observe. Tokyo is a great city for that.

rkkwan Feb 17th, 2016 09:36 PM

The main problem is getting from place to place. Taxis are expensive and traffic can be bad. The subway stations are vast, and switching from line to line may involve long walks and often staircases. And choose your hotel wisely. The walking distance from the hotel door to the subway platform may already exhaust you.

thursdaysd Feb 17th, 2016 10:06 PM

I agree that if you have mobility issues the subway can be a problem. That said, the system is more extensive in Tokyo than in Kyoto. I was limping during my visit to Japan, and although I preferred the sights in Kyoto, I found Tokyo easier to get around (I slept in Asakusa).

kja Feb 17th, 2016 11:31 PM

I would agree that the subway in Tokyo can require walks of surprising lengths -- NOT what I would recommend for anyone with mobility challenges! But if your heart is set on modern Japan, it should be something that can be managed, somehow.

If recovering from knee surgery (didn't you identify that as the issue on another thread? the details can, unfortunately, make such a difference!), I would not want to plan on anything that required sitting in a seiza position or that required me to step down into a boat that might shift or bob just as you are entering. JMO.

Although I agree that the Tokyo subway system could -- depending on you plan -- pose some real challenges, I wouldn't have that same set of concerns about the costs or accessibility or energy required to move around in Kyoto. (I'm not saying its cheap or easy in Kyoto -- just less expensive and more convenient than Tokyo.) And as already noted, I think Nara could be a better base for someone with mobility challenges than Kyoto itself, depending on which specific wheelchair accessible sites you choose to visit. (Yes, I know that you don't require a wheelchair, but suspect that wheelchair accessibility will generally approximate the need of someone who can manage a bit more.)

JMO, and again, I could be wrong and so encourage you to research any and all options.

Kavey Feb 19th, 2016 03:56 AM

I agree with Kja. While the Tokyo metro system is very extensive, many of the stations are VAST and require a lot of walking. Plus while there is usually one entrance/ exit with no stairs in the big stations, it's often really really hard to find it from both outside or inside. That's what I found, anyway. And taxis would be exhorbitant.

Kyoto is doable depending on level of mobility. I use a walking stick, and try hard to minimise stairs BUT I can do some. So I found using the bus system there very easy, there were a few steep stairs to board and get off, but the drivers are patient as are other passengers.

Plus taxis are far more of an option in Kyoto as distances are shorter.

Many temple complexes are fine to enjoy a good portion of without steps even if some areas may be out of bounds.

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