Accessible Japan & Accessible Travel Forum

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We’re jetting off to Japan this week and speaking to Josh Grisdale, founder of Accessible Travel Forum and Accessible Japan. Josh is sharing tips for traveling to Japan and where are the most accessible places.

Image of Josh on the ramp at Meiji Jingu.
Ramp at Meiji Jingu.

What was your reason for starting Accessible Japan & Accessible Travel Forum? Was it from personal experiences?

For Accessible Japan, it was a desire to give back to the country I love. There really wasn’t much accessibility information available in English. So I wanted to bridge the gap and help provide the information needed by travellers with disabilities so they can enjoy their trip to Japan instead of get caught up in worries.

I started the Accessible Travel Forum because I saw how important community was for travellers with disabilities. It is so much easier to ask a local resident or someone who has been before you instead of doing everything from scratch. In exchange, maybe you can help someone visit a place you know or visited. I wanted to bring like-minded visitors together in one spot.

Image of elevator at Sensoji
Elevator at Sensoji.

Where would you recommend is the most accessible place to visit in Japan?

Can I have 2?

For Tokyo, Sensoji (temple) and Meiji Jingu (shrine) have done a phenomenal job of making their properties accessible to all. I recommend them to everyone visiting Tokyo.

Both have worked to remove physical barriers so that tourists with disabilities can enjoy every part of the facilities just like any other visitor. For example, removing steps, adding ramps and elevators, accessible toilets etc.

Do you have an advice on hiring mobility equipment when traveling in Japan?

There are very few companies that rent wheelchairs, and even fewer that rent scooters or hoists. We have a form on our website. If you use that we can try to put you in touch with a rental company. However, it can take time to work out the details, so it is always best to get in touch well in advance.

Are there any other countries you have visited? How accessible did you find the countries?

I have also been to Canada, the States, Mongolia and Singapore.  There certainly is quite a gap in the accessibility of those countries!

Singapore is incredibly accessible to get around with just public transportation.

Mongolia was only possible because I travelled with a group of people who could help. I left my power wheelchair at home and borrowed a manual wheelchair when I went. But it was worth the discomfort.

What feedback do you receive back from tourist visiting through Accessible Japan?

Yes, I have had a number of people mention that it was vital to both getting the courage to visit (realizing they can visit) and to help their trip go smoothly. That really encouraged me to keep going and keep expanding the site!

Thank you Josh for answering our questions. Let us know if you have ever visited Japan and, where you love to visit.

Follow Claire D'All:

I graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Applied Computing. During my studies the field that I had a great interest in was web development however since graduating I have also become very interested in accessibility. I was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and since the age of 3 I have used a wheelchair 24/7. Due to my disability I have always come across problems regarding accessibility, which is why it’s such a passion for me.

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