The wheels have been set in motion to make sure the upcoming Tokyo Olympics will be the most accessible Summer Games ever staged. And to make sure visitors with disabilities know exactly which of Japan’s ancient tourist sites can accommodate their special needs, Accessible Japan, a website dedicated to collecting everything there is to know about accessibility in Japan, has been created to assist them.
Accessible Japan, the brainchild of Josh Grisdale, a person with disabilities who travels the world with the help of an electric wheelchair, has a complete list of accessible tourist sites and other important information that is sure to be invaluable for people with disabilities.
For instance, Accessible Japan lists which of Japan’s ancient temples and shrines have been updated to accommodate people with disabilities. Tokyo’s Nijo Castle and Meiji Shrine, for instance, have added smooth ramps to replace gravel paths and larger areas have been created to help manoeuvre wheelchairs.
Above: The Olympic organizers in Tokyo have gone to great lengths to make the Games accessible for all visitors.
At Tokyo’s Skytree and Senso-ji Temple, smooth flooring, larger elevator access and multi-purpose toilets are now available, and Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, another Games’ site, has designed an access route for those who have reduced mobility.
Most hotels in Japan are now governed by Japan’s strict wheelchair accessible bylaw and major taxi companies, like MK and Miyako, have a fleet of "Universal Design Taxis" capable of transporting wheelchairs through the streets in time for the Summer Games.
Accessible Japan even details where you can find toilets that can accommodate wheelchairs. Instead of being located near the back of one of the public toilets, these new accessible toilets are placed either between the men’s and women’s toilets or just inside. Occasionally, it may be only on the woman’s side, but not far enough in to create awkward situations. The accessible toilets are designed not just for people with disabilities, but also for seniors and mothers with young children.
Most Games’ visitors will travel between venues on Japan’s excellent train system and nearly all train and subway stations, according to Accessible Japan, have been now been made wheelchair accessible.
The website even has a phrasebook for persons with disabilities.
Above: All venues for the Tokyo Olympics have been made accessible for everyone and public spaces have been modernized.
Frustrated with little to no information about accessibility on Japan’s existing websites, or hotels not allowing accessible rooms to be booked online and requiring long phone calls, Grisdale decided to create the Accessible Japan site, which offers a combination of both good and bad experiences of travelling in a wheelchair.
An adventurer at heart, Grisdale hates to hear the word “impossible” and likes to gather as much information as humanly possible before heading out on the road. He especially hates surprises.
Even before the Tokyo Summer Games (July 24 to Aug. 9) and Summer Paralympic Games (Aug. 25 to Sept. 6) begin, we already have a winner – Accessible Japan, which sets the gold standard for websites that help people with disabilities.
To learn more about Accessible Japan, go to http://www.accessible-japan.com