LWIF X EP13: Travelling With a Physical Disability in Japan – Social Documentary

Many people are aware that Japan has excellent public transportation. If you’re a keen observer, you may have noticed the many wheelchair accessible facilities, but perhaps have not seen physically disabled people make use of them. In this video, Yuriko Oda (Wheelchair Walker) and Josh Grisdale (Accessible Japan) show what it’s like to travel with a physical disability in Japan’s trains, buses, cars, taxis, and planes.

Social Documentaries About Japan!

This is part of new series of social documentaries about Japan that I’m making. Future episodes will attempt to answer questions like: what are the living conditions of the homeless, what does social housing look life and how affordable is housing, what is it like to work in Japan and is there any work/life balance, and what is it like to go to primary school?

If you’d like to support these types of social documentaries, I now have a Patreon account. Any support at all will be greatly appreciated!

Part Two – Living With a Physical Disability in Japan

The seed for the video idea started when some from the community asked about travelling to Japan with a disability. Over the following months, I tried to pay attention to the types of special features available to those with disabled people within the transportation system. I couldn’t figure out much just by looking, but on a Google search I found Josh from accessible-japan.com who had the answers and connections I was looking for. I’m so glad I met him, because not only was he so kind and helpful, but he also introduced me to Yuriko, the Wheelchair Walker, who as a pleasure to meet.

Both are advocates for independent living, and I believe tend to look on the positive side of living with a disability in Japan. That kinds of implies there’s a negative side, doesn’t it? Not necessarily. While this video focused mainly on getting around Japan, with both exclaiming it was top notch in comparison to the rest of the world, part two will talk about what it’s like to live with a physical disability, from housing, to government assistance, helpers, laws, and the public attitude towards disabled people. Without spoiling too much of the second video, I can tell you that Japan has come a long way in the past couple decades.

I was surprised to hear Japan accommodated people living with physical disabilities so well, because in my studies at University, the books I read alluded to disabled people being somewhat hidden in Japan. I think it’s trail blazers like Yuriko and Josh who are leading the way to make ensure that the physically disabled can live an everyday fulfilling life, just like any other resident of Japan.

If you have questions, I will try and answer to the best of my knowledge, but if you want the real experts, please check out Josh and Yuriko.


Note, pay attention to the dates if you read news articles. You’ll notice a big difference between articles written in 1996 vs. 2016.

What is it like to travel with a disability where you’re from?