A Day with a Wheel Chair in Japan

9AM-4PM – Culture Festival at the School for the Deaf

The morning performances are  in the gymnasium (first floor). During the elementary school skit and taiko drumming,  kids are onstage. Teachers carry 29 kg.  daughter and her wheelchair up the steps to the stage and back down. Only about five steps!

After eating udon on the first floor, daughter wants to go up to the second floor where the bazaar and food booths are. Parents carry wheelchair up stairs. Daughter uses railing to go up on feet. (Hurray for daughter!)  Husband is wiped out by a cold virus and spends next hour sitting at table. Daughter does a little shopping on her own, then wants to go to the third floor for tea ceremony and art exhibits. Daughter goes up while hanging onto railing (spotted by mother), then mother carries up wheelchair. On way back down, mother carries daughter on back. Teacher brings wheelchair down.

6PM – Dinner at McDonald’s

Enter restaurant by ramp (?)  which is blocked by Happy Meal toy display. Toilet stall is too narrow for wheelchair.

7PM Hard Off (store selling second-hand goods)

Purpose of visit is to buy a CD player for mother to use in her classes. Only problem is, CD players are on the second floor. No elevator. Adventurous parents bring daughter up the escalator in her wheelchair! Store clerks look on with some concern as mother later descends stairs with daughter on back, and father carries wheelchair down. No one offers to help or apologizes for inaccessibility of store.



9 thoughts on “A Day with a Wheel Chair in Japan

  1. you are worthy of extreme praises for ordinary tasks the rest of us take for granted.

    i just hope for a happy outing without too much to sensory overload my aspergian child, bore my teen and appropriately entertain my toddler.

  2. Hmmm….sounds like a good exercise routine but can’t believe that no one offered to help. Did they think you were doing it for fun? (hope you at least got your CD player!)

  3. Did get the CD player. The clerk was sort of hovering, so he might have stepped in if we were really struggling, but we were handling the situation. I just wish building codes required wheelchair access. I always thought that Lilia would become more independent as she got older, but it seems that the heavier she gets, the more her world narrows.

  4. Do you think there’s hope in the near future that Japan will enforce more accessibility in building codes? I hope that newer construction has more to offer someone in a wheelchair? Ironically, tomorrow there is an “Accessibility Fair” at my office where (from my past attendance) I know there will be demos by vendors offering all types of services — machines that read online text out loud, phone services that will translate spoken word into sign language, computers that will work on voice command, etc. In comparison it’s shocking that elevators and ramps, things that are “just there” in the US, are still not in place in Japan. Good for you and your family that you aren’t letting the lack of these tools prohibit your daughter from experiencing life.

  5. It might be Gunma’s relative proximity to Tokyo, but with an aging m-i-l in tow, I find things here have improved. Elevators almost everywhere, although even a step or two can be a challenge, I know . Regulated parking access is the next frontier. Convenient parking for people with trouble getting around is a must. What I’ve enjoyed seeing is the accessibillity of our new local mall. Indoor parking, controlled temperature, not a step or a threshold to be maneuvered, elevators, and wheelchairs, and carts for use with wheelchairs parked at almost every entrance. And I see lots of people in wheelchairs there. Wheelchairs, strollers, and elderly people. It’s easy to put malls down, but I’m delighted to see everyone out and about!

  6. Right. I think that things are changing because of the greying population, and it won’t be long before new restaurants and other businesses are constructed with ramps/elevators as a matter of course. Things are better than they were when I first arrived (non-step buses!), but there is still room for improvement.

  7. I don’t get it either. Oh yes, they’ll fall over themselves to help if asked, but why should people have to ask for help in the first place? What is wrong with simply offering a helping hand to someone even if, gulp, they don’t appear to be struggling? What’s wrong with showing a little empathy for others? Here, if someone falls no-one rushes to help them or see if the are OK, gosh no, that might embarrass them. Best just turn and look the other way. It’s one cultural difference I find hard to accept.

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  9. So pathetic situation, surely they felt bad of lifting those, hope the establishment can think of convenience to their customer. Because we cannot please everybody to help even though its so really pathetic.

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