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A friend of mine will be travelling to Tokyo for a week or two, and since she has a certain movement disability, she was concerned whether the Tokyo Metro has appropriate accessibility facilities (lifts, escalators, step-free access, accessible ticket machines, gap-less train access). I already found out from the website that priority seats are available.

I wasn't able to find anything about this on the Tokyo Metro website, and Wikipedia isn't much help either.

So, my question consists of three parts:

  • Is the Tokyo Metro accessible to disabled persons?
  • Are accessibility facilities available at each station?
  • What facilities, specifically, are available?

As a bonus, additional information about accessibility in Tokyo will be highly appreciated.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The short answer is yes, it's always technically possible for a disabled person to access any Tokyo Metro station.

The long answer -- and this is from personal experience dealing with baby strollers in Tokyo -- is that while possible in theory, access is often seriously inconvenient in practice, eg. the station has 16 exits (not unusual in Tokyo...) and only one has a lift, or that there is no lift at all and you'll need to wait for a team of station staff to manually lug your friend up and down the stairs.

The reason is that parts of the Tokyo Metro are close to 100 years old (the Ginza Line opened in 1927) and, while much effort continues to be put into retrofitting old stations, the job is far from done. Here are illustrated examples of the kind of "barrier-free" (バリアフリー baria furii) features available in some stations:

主なバリアフリー設備

And here is Tokyo Metro's official accessibility status page, unfortunately only in Japanese:

バリアフリー設備の設置状況 (or via Google Translate)

Click on any line to examine the situation for each of its stations. Looking at the Ginza Line, we see these entries for each station, with handy icons indicating what's available:

  • ホーム⇔改札間設備 Between platform ("home") and ticket gates ("wicket" per Google)
  • 改札⇔地上間設備 Between ticket gates and ground level
  • 階段昇降機 Stairlift
  • トイレ設備 [Accessible] Toilet facilities
  • ハンドル形電動車いす利用可能 Electric wheelchair accessibility

Although the logic is a little odd, eg. Shibuya station (1st in list) seems to indicate there's no way to get to the platforms in row 1, but then notes that there are chair lifts between the platforms and the ticket gates in row 3.

It's also worth noting that Tokyo Metro is only one of multiple railway operators in Tokyo. The other two big ones are JR East, which runs the largest overground network (Yamanote Line, Narita Express etc) and Toei Subway, which runs 4 other underground metro lines; those links go to their respective "barrier-free" status pages, again only in Japanese.

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Can only answer question no 1 & 2 :

  1. Tokyo Metro is accessible for the disabled.

    Maps of World claims that "In the Tokyo Subway, there are special wheel chair access arrangements and ticket counters for the disabled passengers"

    tokyo escalator stairwellchair lift

  2. Seems that not all stations support accessibility for disabled persons, even for major stations like Shibuya and Shinjuku.

There is also a website dedicated for giving information about travelling in japan for disabled people.

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In Tokyo and all arround Japan you don't need to worry to travel as a handicaped person. Even if the station has no facilities for disabled all staff persons will help you to access where you need inside the metro or inside train stations. Yes, there are limited places where you can manage alone all, but don't worry, in Japan in the metro or train you are not alone.

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