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Travellers With Disabilities

Although Kyoto has made some attempts at making public facilities more accessible, its narrow streets and the terrain of sights, such as temples and shrines, make it a challenging city for people with disabilities, especially for those in wheelchairs. Let staff at temples and shrines know someone in your party is travelling in a wheelchair as some may have a separate accessible route.

If you are going to travel by train and need assistance, ask one of the station workers as you enter the station. There are carriages on most lines that have areas set aside for those in wheelchairs. Those with other physical disabilities can use one of the seats set aside near the train exits; these are called yūsen-zaseki and are usually a different colour from the other seats in the carriage, making them easy to spot. Major train stations have elevators to the platform but many stations don't.

MK Taxi can accommodate wheelchairs in many of its cars.

Facilities for the visually impaired include musical pedestrian lights at many city intersections and raised bumps on railway platforms for guidance.

AD-Brain (the same outfit that publishes the monthly Kyoto Visitor’s Guide) has produced a basic city map for people with disabilities and senior citizens. It shows wheelchair-access points in town and gives information on public transport access etc. The map is available at the Kyoto Tourist Information Center.

Another useful resource is the Japan Accessible Tourism Center (www.japan-accessible.com/city/kyoto.htm), with a rundown of accessible sights and hotels in Kyoto.

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.