As someone who has diabetes, arthritis and a kidney transplant, long distance travel is something I worry about. I’m worried on so many levels, from carrying the correct medication, what happens if something happens, where is the nearest consultant, how will I cope with a arthritis flare abroad on my own, stress affecting my kidney transplant…the list goes on and on. Not only those concerns come to my mind in relation to the trip, but once I’ve arrived the physical effort of moving around a city can cause even more stress which affects my conditions and chronic fatigue. I was therefore delighted to see a BBC report by Paul Carter about disabled travel in Japan, in particular getting around Tokyo. As the RWC 2019 and Olympics come to Japan, its essential for travelers like myself are aware of the issues for disabled travelers in the land of the Brave Blossoms.
Like me, Paul would struggle with walking long distances and fatigue, however he was impressed by tourist destinations which have been adapting for visitors from across the globe for these major sporting events. The subways, even to the locals, seemed confusing, limited access to lifts and a ticketing system which offered confusion, not comfort…but doesn’t every underground system have a system like that?
He then visited a public event to raise awareness of disabled sport prior to the 2020 Para -Olympics. Families were seen to be enjoying a host of different disabled sports, taking away the mystic these sports can sometimes hold with able bodied members of the public. At the event Paul had a crack at wheelchair rugby, taking a hit from a Japanese player…I don’t think many would like that. It was interesting viewing and I agreed with the Japanese lady in the picture above who said she wanted to break down barriers and get the public to view her as “normal, not a special person”.
Overall I felt Paul had a great time in Japan, and like any city it has improvements to make, however its certainly a wondrous city to visit for any disabled traveler, so he would certainly recommend it.
If you need further advice on disabled travel in Japan then please visit https://www.accessible-japan.com/
Want to watch Paul’s report? Just click on the image below for access. (Note: It’s on BBC iPlayer and only valid for UK viewers until December 30th 2018. )