Accessible Wheelchair Travel: Osaka, Japan Holiday
By Kim & Shaun O'Sullivan   2011

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Kim & Shaun O'Sullivan, of Australia, sampled a brief visit to Osaka, Japan and gave the city high marks for its wheelchair accessibility.

We needed to fly to Japan so that we could embark on a cruise that we had decided on. My husband Shaun is a T12 incomplete paraplegic and is unable to walk. Dianne ( our wonderful travel agent from Flight Centre Booval) suggested that we fly Jetstar from the Gold Coast so that we could fly directly to Osaka.  So on the 30th April 2011 we arrived at the Gold Coast International Airport to start our journey. 

Jetstar was well organized for the wheelchair, and although we left late, the flight to Osaka was fine.  We arrived late at night and Dianne had organized a transfer from the airport to the motel.  It was quite a distance, however, the van was very well set up and had a platform that raised from the ground and slid in beside a seat that Shaun could easily transfer to for the journey. 

We stayed at the New Hank Yu hotel in the centre of Osaka.  Although the bathroom had a bath, which Shaun managed to use, there was allowance for a shower rail that covered most of the bathroom, so that you could shower directly onto the floor .The toilet was very accessible and the room was very well set up for my independent husband. The lifts even had buttons at a lower height. 


Shaun on an Osaka street

Shaun sitting on the top of a street near their Osaka hotel.

The next day we ate breakfast at the hotel and then set about seeing some of Osaka.  We were surprised how few people spoke English, as they have the International Airport, however the concierge at the hotel provided us with some valuable information, and armed with the hotel card just in case, we set off.  We found you only needed three words for taxis, Visa-wheelchair- and a map showing where you wanted to go. 

It cost us about $20.00 Australian to go from the hotel to Osaka Castle.  Although there was a steep driveway, Shaun managed to arrive at the top.  We assumed that we would be able to use a card or have an available ATM at the castle, however this was not the case and we were unable to go in. However, there was a very elaborate lift that could have taken the wheelchair to the first floor and there were plenty of wheelchair accessible toilets that were clearly signed. 

After a look around the gardens, we then decided to go to the Electronic District as Shaun wanted to check out a few things.  Again we got a taxi from the Castle to the Electronic District, but we misunderstood the driver and instead of turning left, we turned right.  After some distance, we decided to try for lunch and we chose a restaurant. It had a couple of steps, however, the owner was more than happy to get his staff to help, and before we knew it, we were enjoying a typical Japanese lunch.  The owner spoke very good English and we were directed to the place we wanted to be, after which we headed back to the hotel. That night we crossed the road to eat and have tea  tea at the top of a large department store. 

The next day, after some shopping, we were collected from the hotel and driven to Kobe to meet the boat.  We found the Japanese very helpful and Osaka, at least, was really well set up for the wheelchair. We were assured that we would be able to access trains and buses, although we did not have enough time to try these. We found lifts with wheelchair access, clearly signed, and not once did we have to ask for a chair to be removed from a table at anywhere we ate.  Shaun even commented that for the first time, he did not feel invisible.  Indeed, if someone did step in front of him, they apologised profusely.

We would like to go back to Japan someday and visit more of the country. Although we only had a short stay,  we would be very comfortable travelling further afield.

 Don't miss Kim & Shaun O'Sullivan's  2010 Tour of Egypt.

and the O'Sullivan's trip aboard the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff, Canada

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