With the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Japan fast approaching, the question of accessibility has been a topic of much debate. But how accessible are different areas of Japan? Where can you find information on what you might need, especially if you don’t speak fluent Japanese? The site Accessible Japan addresses many of these issues while also creating a community space for the exchange of information.
Originally created by Josh Grisdale, the site features an abundance of information for people with a wide variety of needs, including topics such as transportation by air or train, mobility scooters and aids, the Japanese braille system, guide dogs, and many others. Helpfully, these explanations include current laws or rules that one would not necessarily be aware of without living in Japan, and they often link to relevant articles for further reading.
One particularly useful section on Essential Japanese guides Japanese speakers and non-speakers alike through helpful phrases that would facilitate smoother communication on topics that seldom get taught in a typical Japanese classroom.
A Hotels section includes a list accessible hotels, divided up by major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka as well as other locations throughout the archipelago. There is detailed information on each hotel (both the standard fare of price, location, etc., as well as various accessibility features like hearing loops or flashing alarms), and explanations also include photos (and sometimes maps) of the inside. Site members can also personally review the location.
The Attractions section is set up in a similar fashion, with great explanations of tourist spots in Tokyo, Kyoto, and other areas throughout Japan that are typical tourist destinations. In addition to the overviews of the locations (with tons of excellent photos!) and its accessibility, there are links to PDFs or websites that have further information on specific access routes and other accommodations. Accessibility Japan has also partnered with some tourist agencies to create accessible tour plans, which is wonderful for those who have never been to Japan or just don’t want to spend their energy doing all the planning themselves. Accessible Japan also maintains forums for people who still have questions or can’t find the information they need elsewhere and a blog on a wide variety of subjects related to accessibility and Japanese culture and travel.
This site is a wonderfully informative and important contribution to all communities who are interested in learning about and traveling to Japan. They maintain a variety of presences across social media, and you can also support their work on Patreon. Be sure spend some time exploring the site and sharing it with any organizations that could benefit from sharing this information with travelers!