Barrier Free Japan Nagoya Tourism

Name Change for Nearby Station of Castle Embroiled in Accessibility Controversy

From Kyodo via The Japan Times, Barrier Free Japan

January 8 2023

NAGOYA – The Nagoya Municipal Government hoped to resolve a source of confusion for visitors to the city by changing the name of the subway station close to Nagoya Castle on Wednesday to one better reflecting its proximity to the historic site.

The station has gone from being called Shiyakusho (City Hall) to Nagoyajo (Nagoya Castle) in part of a move to rename four municipal subway stations close to tourism hotspots that the local government hopes will lead to smoother sightseeing and greater activity in the areas.

The decision to rename the stations was made in January 2021 by a panel of experts for the city government after it received complaints of difficulty determining how to get to the castle. Some people were mistakenly exiting the train at the neighboring Meijo Koen Station, which includes the kanji character for the castle in its name.

But a plan to install a small elevator that provides only limited wheelchair access has stirred controversy over full accessibility.

As early as September 2018, Aichi prefecture based disability rights groups voiced opposition to Nagoya City Mayor, Takashi Kawamura’s plans to restore the castle exactly how it was first constructed. On September 19th 2018, they met with Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura, and asked the city to work towards the installation of an elevator.  

Mayor Kawamura subsequently told reporters the city government would not change its plans. Seeking restoration “faithful to historical fact,” he had initially said the city would restore the keep without elevators.

In December, an association of groups for people with disabilities in Aichi Prefecture called for a change of plans, saying the proposed elevator does not properly accommodate bigger wheelchairs, which “infringes on the human rights of many disabled people.”

The Nagoya municipal government is considering installing small, specialized elevators in the planned wooden reconstruction of the tenshukaku main tower keep of Nagoya Castle to make the structure barrier-free.

Users will be able to reach the top of the tower keep through a series of small elevators, dubbed “electric baskets,” that travel only one floor.

Utilizing the lifts will give the disabled the opportunity to access all floors of the tower keep, while faithfully reconstructing the pillars and beams from the original structure.

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