Tokyo Travel Diary | All about Accessibility
Update May 2019
Accessibility Review of Tokyo
Back home since yesterday, my thoughts are still in Japan. It has been my fourth trip to Tokyo, and I will always be in love with this city and its mixture of modern technology and tradition. This time I rented a mobility scooter via Marudai Motor Co., which was the best idea ever to get around easily by myself.
We flew with Air France to Tokyo Haneda Airport on October 22nd, 2016, and stayed for 13 nights in a lovely Airbnb home in Sendagaya. Together with our friend Sue and her two kids, we had a fantastic time in Nippon. As I stayed for almost two weeks, I decided to write several articles about my experiences in Tokyo. I’d like to start with the most important topic. The accessibility…!
Accessibility of Tokyo – The Basics
Tokyo is one of the most wheelchair-accessible cities worldwide. The JR-East Railway Company and also the private Tokyo Metro offer extraordinary well-organized service for wheelchair users. The bus system seems to be mostly wheelchair accessible, too. There are ramps and elevators and very spacious wheelchair-accessible restrooms in nearly every station. Sometimes you get discounts (only with proof of disability, written in English) for attractions like Ueno Zoo, Tokyo Skytree, and some public gardens.
Mobility Scooter Rental in Tokyo
Renting a mobility scooter was easy and a great possibility to keep my self-autonomy. I found the Marudai Motor Co. on Google and contacted them. The service was perfect and affordable. Mr. Okura and his staff, who were both very friendly and kind, delivered the mobility scooter to our inaccessible (!!!) Airbnb home on time. I had to pay 20.000 Yen (about 175 EUR/195 USD) for two weeks.
The rental company handed me over a certificate saying that I officially rented the scooter and that I needed it due to a disability. With this certificate, I could easily board JR-East Trains as well as the Metro trains. If you come with your own mobility scooter, you could encounter some problems. Mobility scooters are still rare in Japan. It seems that mobility scooters are not yet quite accepted as mobility devices for disabled people, but the system constantly evolves. This precious certificate, though, made everything possible!
Wheelchair Accessibility of JR-East Trains and Tokyo Metro
Each time we had to take the JR trains (almost daily), we went to the station’s wheelchair counter to ask for help. I always showed the certificate to the staff. The service agent accompanied us to the train track and installed a mobile ramp to get me on the train. Once we arrived at our destination, another service agent already waited for me to help me out of the train with the ramp. The agent also showed us the way to the exit.
We enjoyed this excellent VIP service because the stations are huge and can get very crowded. The JR-East Japan Railway Company has high service standards for people with disabilities. Traveling with JR-East is a real pleasure!
I wondered if JR-East offers a discount for people with disabilities, but the agent at the customer service desk explained that a discount is only applicable for Japanese citizens and only on demand. Isn’t it funny how a disability kind of “disappears” when crossing borders? But anyway, the question was worth being asked. One of the private metros offered a discount which was very kind. The Metro service agent told us to purchase a ticket for children, and so we saved 50 % of the regular price.
Tokyo Wheelchair Travel
Wheelchair-accessible MUST SEES in Tokyo
Visiting TOKYO SKYTREE in a wheelchair
Mobility Scooter Rental Experience in Tokyo – March 2018
Tokyo is worth a visit – especially as a wheelchair user! I really like the amazing Japanese sense of service and perfectionism. The public transport system surely is one of the best and most wheelchair-accessible systems in the world. Tokyo is a positive example and remarkably stands out for its great, continuously improving wheelchair accessibility!
Have you been to Tokyo as a wheelchair user?
Leave a comment below and tell me about your experience!
this is a lovely blog post and definitely waiting for your next.
I’ve wondered how accessibility is in japan/tokyo.
I’m a traveler and want to go to japan someday! maybe!
Thank you, I’m very happy that you like this post! Japan is just extraordinary! Greets, Melanie
I Just discovered your blog and am going to, Tokyo in April for five nights. I have my own 3 wheel GoGo scooter that I’m bringing with me. I’m curious and want to know more about your statement ” If you come with your own scooter you might encounter some problems.” What problems are there? I have saved the place you mentioned to rent the scooter from and may consider it, so I’m not wearing mine out. Also, where do you get the disability card? I live in the US and we don’t have that. We are staying with friends in Okinawa and then flying to Tokyo only. No JL trains, but will probably use their metro train. The Skytree is on our list of things to do, as well as the Tokyo Water Bus. I look forward to hearing from you! I have followed you on IG. I’m miss_blanco .
Hello Jamie! It’s so nice to read from you! Thank you for following on IG :-)! It’s great that you’ll spend some days in Tokyo! If you don’t have a disability ID card make at least sure that you have a medical certificate saying you’re disabled and that you are in permanent need of your mobility scooter. In the worst case you could meet the problem that the Metro or JR Staff wouldn’t let you board on their trains with your own scooter. That’s because normally mobility scooters aren’t permitted (that’s also written on their website). The team of Marudai Motors confirmed that this happens from time to time. I had to present my Japanese certificate – the one I got from Marudai Motors – twice in order to board the JR and once to board a Metro train. It’s good that you’ve saved this company just in case! Mr Okura speaks English and is very helpful. I’m curious about the Tokyo Water Bus! Please let me know how your trip went and what you liked best about Tokyo! Have a great holiday, Jamie!
Thank you for the info. I’lll contact Mr. Okuro and see if I can get a certificate for my own scooter.
I too am interested to know if you were able to get a certificate for your own scooter to get on trains in tokyo. I would like to visit japan with my own scooter.
I don’t know if that’s possible but you can try it. All I know is that you’ll get the certificate when you rent one of their scooters. Good Luck Jamie :-)!
Could you post the link to the Airbnb? Love your trip report!
Hi Anna! The apartment we stayed at back in November 2016 is no longer listed on AirBnb. In fact, it wasn’t wheelchair-accessible at all, that’s why I chose to not post the link.
Have a lovely day,