InsideJapan Tours has vowed to up its focus on trips for disabled travellers, starting with a wheelchair-accessible version of its Golden Route itinerary.
The specialist has been working with Tokyo resident Josh Grisdale, founder of Accessible Japan, to develop and finesse its offering for travellers with disabilities.
Earlier this year, it launched its self-guided 10-night wheelchair accessible Golden Route trip, which leads in from £3,330pp.
It includes 10 nights’ accommodation in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, as well as transport, private guiding and wheelchair accessible transport around Mt Fuji, Kyoto and Nara national park.
Highlights include taking in Tokyo’s skyline from the city’s Skytree, exploring Kyoto’s Golden Temple, visiting Osaka, viewing Mt Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi and feeding Nara’s deer.
Grisdale, who has cerebral palsy, said he wanted to help change the perception of accessible travel in Japan. “Many travellers with disabilities perhaps think of Asia as beyond their grasp.
“However, as I discovered when I visited for the first time 20 years ago, it is well suited for travellers with accessibility issues like me unlike some countries in Asia. It opens up horizons.”
Grisdale said Japan’s accessible rail travel options were particularly well developed, with 96% of the estimated 882 stations in Tokyo’s metropolitan area offering accessibility options.
“Getting around the city has always been one of the most impressive things for me,” said Grisdale. “In many countries, you have to call in advance to warn officials that you are travelling and will require assistance. In Japan, you just turn up.
“Some stations are fully traversable, while some need assistance with ramps and the like; but all the facilities are there, with staff trained and happy to help. The staff also call ahead on all journey stops to make sure there are no surprises.”
Additionally, Japan has tripled the number of accessible bullet train seats between Tokyo and Osaka, with spaces bookable a month in advance.
Other accessibility improvements in Japan include an increase in accessible toilets, which can be checked using Japan’s Check A Toilet app.
Besides progress at attractions and in hotels, Grisdale said there were even wheelchair accessible traditional onsen bath now available.
“Those who visit Japan often rave about its culture and the breadth of unique sights and destinations the country has to offer,” said InsideJapan.
“Although there’s still some way to go, those must-see destinations, cultural experiences, and even some of the more off-radar places are becoming much more accessible to those with mobility issues.
“But perhaps more importantly, it’s the everyday things that are getting easier for disabled travellers to contend with.”