There are mainly 4 ways to move around Japan.
2 Shinkansen (Bullet train/Super express train)
In this page, I will explain 1 Train from a standpoint of accessibility below.
1-1 Trains in Japan
1-2 Stations in Japan
1-3 The way of using train with/without using wheelchair
1-1 Trains in Japan
Japanese trains are brilliant.
Most stations and trains are accessible and the trains run on time. It will not be delayed unless something happens such as an accident.
Accuracy of time
Time table of trains in Japan is accurate. For instance, Japanese train companies make an announcement to apologize at the station if the trains run behind schedule even one minutes. Thus, you can make an accurate travelling plan for.
In the trains, there are priority seats, which seniors, people having challenging, pregnant women can sit on prior to us. There are two ways to describe those seats in English, courtesy seat and priority seat. In Japanese, we call those seats “優先座席 YUSEN-ZASEKI.” These seats are usually installed next to the doors. Please refrain from using mobile phones close to the priority seats. That is because people using an artificial cardiac pacemaker are close to or sitting on the priority seats. We still believe that the artificial cardiac pacemaker would effect in bad way on the artificial cardiac pacemaker.
There are priority areas for wheelchair. The areas are labeled like a picture below. Most of the time, those places are usually installed next to the doors and do not have any seats. All train cars do not have the areas; therefore, I recommend that you ask train staff which train car has the priority area for wheelchairs.
As you know that commuting time is crazy in Japan. There is no room even to play with smartphones; thus, please avoid using the trains during the commuting time. (See below for commuting time.) Getting on the train during the commuting time is so hard. You might not be able to get on the train. Commuting time calms down around half past nine. Ten o’clock is the better time to get on the train.
Morning 7 AM to 8:30 AM
Evening 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM
General rules to get on the train in Japan
・Do not talk on the phone on the train.
・Please refrain from eating on the train.
・Do not though away the garbage on the trains.
・Please be in line in order to get on the train. Do not cut the line.
・Trains have a few train cars just for women; it is prevention for women from gropers. Pink stickers on those train cars to distinguish form the general train cars. Men are not allowed to get on those train cars.
1-2 Stations in Japan
Stations in Japan are accessible. You can see many universal designs especially in the big stations.
There are two types of tickets gates. One is general gate, and bigger one is designed for wheelchair.
Usually, elevators are installed in the stations. Elevator are accessible, so you do not need to worry about it. Nevertheless, you need to be careful when you use the elevators to go to the floor having the ticket gates from the platform.
The reason is that stations in big city, especially Tokyo, have a lot of ticket gates at the separate areas. Even if you and your friends are in the same station, you cannot see your friends on the floor having ticket gates unless your friends and you use the same elevator.
Furthermore, there are some exits there is no elevators.
When you use the subway, you have to go to upper floor to exit from the station from the floor having the ticket gates. However, some floors having ticket gates do not have the elevators to go upper floor to exit from the station. In order to avoid that situation, you should tell the station staff which station you will use and where your destination is in advance.
Anyways, you need to get on the proper elevator to reach the proper floor having the ticket gates.
Mainly, multipurpose bathroom/ accessible bathroom, which is universal design bathroom, are installed in the stations. Most of the time, the green door of the bathroom has a drawing of wheelchair, and the bathroom can be seen between the female and male bathroom. The bathroom is big enough to use for wheelchair users.
When you open the door of the multipurpose bathroom/accessible bathroom, you need to push the button next to the entrance, yet instruction is mainly written in Japanese. Please REMEMBER Japanese instruction or note the instruction below and bring the note to Japan
As for the way of using the bathroom, please refer to Bathrooms in Japan.
Refer the links below
Facility in trains (in Japanese)
Accessibility in Station (in Japanese)
1-3 The way of using train using wheelchair
First step: Purchasing
1.Purchasing the ticket
You can purchase the tickets from the ticket machine or at ticket office in the station.
2.Using a smart card such as Pasumo, Suika
We call a smart card ID card.
You purchase the smart card from the ticket machine in advance. Then you can put money on the smart card at ticket machine or other stores such as convenience store. (We call “putting money on the card” ”charge the card”)
You can use the smart card not only in the station, but also any other stores to buy something. When you go back home country, you can cancel it and you will be refunded.
Second step: The way of getting on the train using wheelchairs
Flow of how to get on the train
Purchase the train ticket
Tell station staff in a train office the station you will get off
(If possible, you can tell them the destination you will go eventually. It would help you.)
Ask them to take you to the platform.
(You can ask the station staff if they can take you to the priority area for wheelchair in the train.)
The train staff put the board over the gap between the train and platform
Get on the train
Another station staff is waiting for you at another station.
The train staff put the board over the gap between the train and platform.
Get off the train
Ask them to take you to the ticket gate
When you use the elevators to the floor having the ticket gates, you need to be careful.
Refer to Elevator.
Prepare the note in advance written about what you should tell the station staff
· Station you will get off
· Your destination
· (Option) If you want to use the priority area for wheel chair in the train, you should tell them about it
If the weight of the wheelchair is over 250 KG (551lb), they can not help you to get on the train.