Travel in Kyoto by wheelchair

If you travel in Japan with somebody on a wheelchair, you would wonder how easy or difficult to travel there.  

Kyoto, an ancient capital in Japan, is the biggest destination when you travel in Japan, and there are so many places you can’t miss in this city. 

So to enjoy traveling in Kyoto by wheelchairs, check the lists below with the indexes to show how easy to get around each place.

*** Accessibility  :  How much you can see in the attraction with a wheelchair

A : You can explore the entire site

B : You can see some parts of the site.

C : You can see the site only from the outside.

D : You can see nothing at the site.

 

***Bump Level

A : The site paths are basically all covered with asphalt or non-bumpy tiles.

B : The site paths are partly covered with pebbles, gravel or anything bumpy.

C : The site paths are mostly covered with pebbles, gravel or anything bumpy.

 

Fushimi Inari Shrine 

Accessibility : B 

Bump Level : B 

The most popular sightseeing site in Kyoto, where numerous numbers of red Torii gates are lining up all the way to the top of the mountain.

The highlight, called Senbon Torii, where beautiful Torii gates are standing close to each other, is accessible by wheelchair, but you must take a roundway through residential streets. 

The main hall is accessible from the entrance gate where JR Inari station is located.

The path is covered with more or less pebbles as well as other temples and shrines.

 

Sanjusangendo temple 

Accessibility : A

Bump Level : A

The most recommended temple in Kyoto for wheelchair users, where 1000 statues of Buddhism Senjukannon (thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara) are standing. 

The Buddha hall is flat and indoor so that you can stay there without worrying about rain. The garden is pretty simple but the path is made of flat stone tiles and it’s really easy to explore. 

Kyoto National Musuem across the street is also recommended as it’s a wheelchair friendly museum, exhibiting numerous national treasure level artifacts. 

 

Kiyomizu temple

Accessibility : B 

Bump Level : A

One of the biggest and oldest temples in Kyoto, where a big temple stage is well known (and it’s just finished restoration in 2020 Feb ). Though some parts have a little steep slopes and the way to the temple is pretty steep, it’s basically covered with asphalt or stone tiles. 

You can’t see the inside of the main hall with Buddha statues and Jishu shrine (a shrine for love) without leaving wheelchair, but it’s no problem on the temple stage by wheelchair and you can get around the most parts of the temple.

From the temple to Gion, slopes called Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka are lively with traditional townhouses where different types of stores are housed. However there are some stairs on the slopes, so if you would like to have a look in this area, it’s better to catch a taxi to reach Kodaiji temple side, where the road is much flatter and still you have a chance to peep in some lovely shops.

 

Gion

Accessibility : A 

Bump Level : B

A fabulous geisha district in the center of Kyoto city. 

The area is split by the main street called Shijo street. The north district is called Shirakawa, where a small river goes through with a peaceful atmosphere, while the south area with Hanami-Koji street is usually a bit busier but fun to walk. You can enjoy the scenery of the old town by wheelchair though the paths are covered with stone tiles, which look beautiful but could be a bit troublesome for wheelchairs. 

 

Nishiki market 

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : A

If you would like to know what Kyoto people eat, visit this Nishiki market. Nowadays some new stores sell sushi and wagyu beef to tourists, but what you shouldn’t miss is local Kyoto food such as quails and carp (koi fish) though you might feel a bit challenging (actually they are good). 

The market is one street covered with an arcade so that you don’t have to worry about the rain. 2 shopping streets called Teramachi and Shin-Kyogoku, located in the east end of the market are also easy for shopping on rainy days.

The problem is the street is pretty narrow and each shop is quite small, so you need some hassle to get around there by wheelchair. 

 

Nijo castle

Accessibility : A

Bump Level : B

One of the most historic castle in Japan, which shogun Tokugawa family owned between 17th and 19th century. 

The ground of the castle is basically sandy and this condition itself is not really easy for wheelchairs, but you can rent a electric wheelchair for free at the entrance and basically the field is flat and not so hilly as the other castles in Japan. 

You need to change indoor wheelchair when you enter the Ninomaru palace. 

The only block for wheelchair is the bridge between Ninomaru palace and Hommaru palace. Currently Hommaru palace is under restoration so it’s recommended to skip the part (and Ninomaru palace is closer to the entrance). Probably you would like to see beautiful cherry blossoms behind the palace in spring, and in that case, just take a round way then you’ll reach the other side of the castle, but also enough numbers of cherry blossoms are waiting for you on Seiryuen garden, on the way back from Ninomaru palace garden to the entrance.

 

Arashiyama bamboo grove 

Accessibility : A

Bump Level : A

The place to see the most beautiful green scenery in Kyoto City. 

The most famous part is a bit hilly and it’s about 1km away from the nearest station (JR Arashiyama). If you go there early in the morning (like 7 am), taxi probably can take you there, but otherwise there are too many people, blocking cars. 

There is another bamboo grove nearby, which is basically used for rickshaw tour but open for everybody. As it’s made for rickshaws, the area is really flat and easy to get around for wheelchairs as well.

After/Before the bamboo grove, visit Togetsukyo Bridge where you would admire the marvelous mountain and river view of Arashiyama. 

 

Tenryuji temple

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : B

The biggest temple in Arashiyama area, where a shogun Ashikaga founded in 14th century to mourn Emperor Godaigo. 

The temple garden is one of the biggest and most beautiful one and you can access to the main part of the garden by wheelchair. The garden path leads to the bamboo grove, but as there are stairs on the way, wheelchairs must return to the entrance and take a round way to the grove. 

While it’s difficult to enter the main hall by wheelchair as there are several steps, there is another hall with an amazing dragon picture on the ceiling, which is accessible to everybody.

 

Golden Pavilion

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : C

The most gorgeous temple in Japan, originally founded by shogun Ashikaga in 14th century. 

Wheelchair users can reach the golden pavilion to see the marvelous scenery, an old pine tree which the shogun planted (which means 600 years old), and a small waterfall with a carp shaped rock (you need some imagination though). But after the waterfall, you reach stairs part, which block wheelchairs, so you must turn back to the entrance, while basically visitors all have to get around the temple by one way. 

The path is mainly covered with pebble, and it’s not so comfortable to go on such a way though it’s pretty flat all the way. So if you would like to enjoy only the highlight of the temple, skipping some hassle, just seeing the golden pavilion and returning to the entrance is not a bad idea. 

 

Ryoanji Temple

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : B

A Zen Buddhism temple which once Queen Elizabeth has visited and praised. 

The dry garden made of sand and rocks looks really simple, which makes you ponder a lot.

The path leading to the main hall and the dry garden is made of gravel and some stairs, but if you contact the garden in advance, your taxi is allowed to park near the main hall so that you can skip the troublesome part.

If you can’t totally walk, the temple lets you see the garden from the ground level (otherwise visitors must take off shoes and step up to the veranda).

Other than the highlight, it’s a bit tough to see around unfortunately but the even only dry garden’s scenery should be enough impressive.

 

Imperial Palace

Accessibility : A

Bump Level : C

The former imperial palace where the imperial family lived until 19th century. Visitors used to need a booking to visit the inside of the palace but now it’s open without booking.

The problem is the ground is basically covered with pebble and gravel in the palace (some outer paths in the garden are ok), so it’s pretty tough to get around by wheelchair. But you can rent an electric wheelchair or balloon tire one for free at Nakadachiyuri Rest Area, which should help you a lot to go on the bumpy road. 

 

Silver pavilion 

Accessibility : B

Bump Level : B

Even though it’s not really covered with silver while the golden pavilion is covered with gold, still the silver pavilion, founded by the 8th generation of Shogun Ashikaga, is enough attractive and the pavilion and garden is so marvelous to see. 

You can see the beautiful garden more or less by wheelchair but cannot reach the observatory. Also the path to the entrance is a slope with bumpy stone tiles, so this part should need some hassle. 

If it’s a good season to walk, especially cherry blossom seasons, spend some time on Philosopher’s Path as well, which is just beside the temple ! 

 

 

There are numerous places to visit in Kyoto, and it takes a lot of time to move from one site to another. 

And some temples / shrines /gardens are difficult to get around by wheelchair as explained above but you still have a chance to see so many attractive scenery in this ancient capital. 

So don’t hesitate but just enjoy your trip ! 

 

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Read more : 

Travel in Osaka by wheelchair

Travel in Nara by wheelchair

Travel in Kyoto with kids

 

 

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tokie

A tourist guide, showing everywhere in Japan. Guide hundreds of people from all over the world every year. Born in Osaka, lived in Australia and Sweden. Traveled in more than 50 countries.

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