Disabled Facilities in Japan
Thought I'd share some information about facilities for the disabled / handicapped in Japan after a friend visited Tokyo in her wheelchair. I also get questions from readers asking about the facilities too.
The commonly used words for a disabled person are:-
"Shintai Shogai Sha" [身体障害者]
"Shogai Sha" [障害者]
If you need to tell somebody that you have a disability then you would say "Shogai Sha desu" [障害者です].
The poster in this photo explains various types of guide dog which are ones which help the blind, deaf and ones which can help fetch stuff, open doors and help one get dressed. Guide dogs are called "Hojo Ken" [ほじょ犬] and is sometimes written in full kanji like [補助犬].
While many shops and restaurants generally don't allow dogs, they usually do let guide dogs in.
The yellow lines by the edge of the platform are braille blocks - "Tenji Burokku" [点字ブロック] can also be found around the streets of Japan. They are not absolutely everywhere though.
Folks in a wheelchair should approach a member of staff before getting on a train. The staff will quickly get some folks to prepare a ramp (pictured here) and help you onto a carriage that has space for a wheelchair. They will inform the approaching train that a wheelchair is to be boarded and the train will wait any additional time needed for you to get on. They will also contact your destination station and staff will be waiting with a ramp at the exact carriage that you got on.
A wheelchair is called "Kuruma Isu" [車いす]. If you want to get off at Shinjuku station, you would say "Kuruma Isu. Shinjuku ikitai" [車いす。新宿いきたい。]
A friend who came to visit Tokyo in a wheelchair brought along a very small foldable wheelchair which was able to fit in the trunk of any taxi that she took and she had no problems on the trains either.
Braille can be found on most trains and in stations too. Folks who need to express that they are blind would say "Me ga fujiyu desu" [目が不自由です].
The "courtesy seat" or "silver seat" on trains are reserved for disabled or any other needy folks. Unfortunately many young people sit and pretend not to see those needy folks by shoving their head in their mobile device or magazine.
Many places have spacious elevators for the needy too.
There are also many toilets available for disabled or needy folks.
This toilet also comes with a bed that folds open.
The buttons to open the disabled toilets are usually green with the kanji "開". Once inside, hit the red button which would have the kanji "閉".
Disabled folks who are moving to Japan should seek a "Physical Disability Certificate" [身体障害者手帳 [しんたいしょうがいしゃてちょう]].
The certificate will enable disabled folks to receive various allowances and welfare services such as discounts on the trains and medical devices. To receive this certificate, you need to go along to your local ward office and bring along your alien registration card (which means you have a valid status of residence) together with a medical certificate which explains or outlines your disability. No fee is required for the certificate.
I also got mail from a disabled person saying that she was hesitant about traveling to Japan because she heard that the disabled facilities were non-existent. As you can see, this is not true at all.