My recent business trip to Japan was a chance to explore ‘The land of rising sun‘. Tokyo has left me baffled with the flawless excellence in the countries magnificent skylines and is one of the most beautiful and remarkable architectures in the world and Japanese trains the worlds punctual with average delay just of 18 seconds.. hmm can you believe that? Ahh you gotto experience it to believe development made to their economy after World War 2. Japan had to rebuild itself from scratch and is very competitive in the world markets.
We landed at Narita International Airport around 4PM and our hotel was an hours journey to the highly affluent neighborhood of Shirokanedai. The airport staff from Narita Airpoter was waiting at arrival exit with my name on a sign board as the Luxury Minivan fitted our entire luggage including my powered wheelchair.
Along the way we noticed nicely done roads, abundant natural green space, lane discipline, wide pedestrians and the sparkling sexy, visually stunning and pulsating vertical neon lining the streets.
Our plan was to travel via the metro trains, and the trip itinerary was planned by a native friend ‘Ito Atsushi’ and we knew we did not have to worry about studying the complex yet flawless metro route table 😉
The first day itself excited me with the accessibility aspects, when I could wheel across the sidewalk, cross the road (first time to cross the zebra crossing along with the crowd of pedestrians). Every metro station has elevator to the station for wheelchair users, baby strollers and older population.
The metro station was filled with busy office goers, college students, business executives with regular trains arriving every five minutes and the Suica card system for recharging fare is very user friendly.
So the older metro platforms have a gap between platform and the train, but quick fix is to inform the security officials to support with the ramp when the train halts. The attendents execute the process so seamlessly …where they wait for us in precision at the every station with the ramp. We were so humbled by their services everytime we had to hop a train, and the experience I had was beyond words as it was so easy to be among the crowd of Japanese people and yet be free and independent. I must have hoped on & off close to 40 trains and never encountered barriers.
I visited below places over course of two days and they were extremely wheelchair friendlier, I just fell in love with Japan.
Firstly we visited Great Buddha at Kamakura which was 2hr journey to get away from Tokyo city, we lunched at Hidamari, then we visited Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū is the most important Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura,
Tokyo sky tree and solacachi shopping mall was amazing view Tokyo’s skyline from 634m high, it’s one of the tallest free-standing broadcasting tower in the world.
Street of Asakusa can be explored day long and still can’t get enough, filled with a variety of traditional tourist souvenirs for centuries.
Being vegetarians we had limited options and the best we tasted was traditional homemade sweets made with rice-flour dumplings, bean paste what sweet black syrup served along different flavors of ice-cream at Sweets shop Nishiyama
While we hear lots of news on MODIfied visit to Japan and the collaboration channels the special management team under PMO office will script going forward, is a great signs of bilateral ties. We have a lot of catching up to do with eastern Asia; be it their technology boom, infrastructural development and systems, people services, punctuality and most of all the friendliness towards a foreign visitor.