Tokyo recognised as an accessible travel destination

Tokyo has been named one of the most accessible cities in the world in a survey carried out by Valuable 500, a global business collective consisting of 500 companies innovating together for disability inclusion.

Some 3,500 disabled global travellers were surveyed in the 2022 poll about the accessibility of destinations they had visited. They listed Tokyo alongside Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney, Amsterdam, Paris, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and London.

Tokyo’s Shinjuku Gyoen park has been recognised as an accessible attraction

The Japanese capital was praised for its kerb cuts on main streets, large and well-equipped accessible bathrooms and ubiquitous tactile ground surface indicators, which were invented in Japan for visually impaired people.

Respondents noted that nearly all train and subway stations in the city are wheelchair accessible and praised the excellent customer service, pointing out that “if not familiar with the station, disabled travellers will be personally escorted to the correct platform”.

The majority of buses in Tokyo are wheelchair-accessible while wheelchair-accessible taxis are available although “not easy to book”, the report continued.

Around half of respondents said Tokyo has “a wide variety of accessible accommodation close to cultural attractions, shops and restaurants”.

Furthermore, most museums, galleries and observation platforms, including Tokyo Skytree, are “generally very wheelchair-accessible”. Arts and entertainment venues, such as the National Noh Theatre, are also well-set up for the visually impaired, hard of hearing and those with mobility issues. Still, many ancient shrines and temples remain only “partially accessible”.

Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the city’s largest parks and a popular cherry blossom viewing spot, received special recognition for its access map and universal smartphone app that uses voice, video, text and vibration to guide disabled visitors.

In addition to infrastructure and information for disabled travellers in each destination, respondents noted “the importance of being treated with respect, and how a greater understanding of disability and the needs of people with disabilities can be as important as accessible infrastructure”.

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