Having planned a family trip from our home in Tokushima Prefecture to Kobe and Osaka, we packed our 14-year-old daughter's wheelchair in the car and took the highway to Awaji Island.

By flashing our daughter's red techo (an identification card for individuals with disabilities available to those covered by the National Health Insurance), we were able to get a 50 percent reduction on highway fees on the Kobe Awaji Naruto Expressway. Two hours later, we were in Kobe, the sixth-largest city in the country.

Our first stop was Glicopia, the headquarters of Glico, maker of popular snacks Pocky and Pretz and our favorite brand of instant curry roux, among other things.