Tokyo is up against the clock when it comes to creating a city that's accessible for everyone. Its deadline? Next year's Olympic Games, though that really shouldn't matter when it comes to transforming Japan into a nation where anyone can use any space.
Accessibility means different things to different people, and sometimes people get left behind. As someone who uses a wheelchair, I learned this the hard way when I moved to Japan.
Before I arrived, I went online to look for apartments. Out of the 240,000 apartments that were available in Tokyo, 900 were listed as barrier-free. Each had amenities that made them accessible to someone, but none had the right combination to make them accessible to me. The reasons varied: a raised entryway; a narrow bathroom door; a long commute; and so forth. I ended up staying at a hotel but even then, I encountered difficulties. Only 0.4 percent of Japan's hotel rooms are accessible, and the options I had were limited. I paid twice the average rate for a room that I could hardly use.