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Efforts of Okutama Fishing Center 2-333 Mitake, Ome, Tokyo
Helping even wheelchair users enjoy nature and fishing
Okutama Fishing Center-located amidst Okutama's abundance of nature-is home to a fishing pond that can be enjoyed by both elderly people and wheelchair uses. It is called the Handicap Area (Wheelchair Fishing Pond).
Kazue Kioka, who works at the center's administrative office, talked to us about why the center built the pond as well as the center's safety-related efforts.
Tokyo's first accessible fishing spot
This fishing pond was opened as a result of the union president interacting with wheelchair users who enjoy fishing. The president saw them struggling with stairs and decided that it was necessary to make a fishing spot accessible to such people. The planning was started in 2018, and-thanks in part to a subsidy from Tokyo and Ome-the Handicap Area (Wheelchair Fishing Pond), Tokyo's first accessible fishing pond, was opened in April of 2019.
Upon being opened, the pond was also introduced on various websites and by newspaper articles. Many customers saw these and started using the pond with their families in groups of four or five. These include the families of repeat customers who make trips to the pond an regular event.
A fishing spot that offers children and elderly people peace of mind
This area's fishing pond complies with Tokyo's standards, including a 90-centimeter-high handrail that goes all the way around the pond. Small children and elderly people with canes are sometimes afraid they might fall into the pond if a fish pulls even a little. Such customers find that they can enjoy fishing without fear if they hold on to the handrail, so the rail is especially popular with them. However, because the handrail can get in the way when people catch fish, long-handled landing nets are available, and assistants and staff help out as necessary.
Coming up with many ways to enable everyone to enjoy fishing
We would like customers to call our center at least 30 minutes before they visit to make a reservation. The reason for this is that fishing is easier when the surface of the water is close to eye level, so we adjust the water level to raise it higher than usual when wheelchair users visit us. Lightweight fishing rods, long landing nets, and special stands are also available for wheelchair users. In addition to fish bait, customers can put small belongings they carry around with them on these stands. There is also space to insert landing nets and fishing rods, so some customers even enjoy fishing while seated in their wheelchairs. Caught fish can also be grilled with salt and eaten right on the spot.
We want people to always enjoy fishing
We really just want our customers to have fun fishing, enjoy the taste of the food, and desire to come back again. Once, we even met an entire family that could no longer go out and suffered a radical life change due to an unforeseen accident. But they told us that they were extremely pleased to be able to fish at a place with such wonderful nature, which made us really happy.
In the future, we hope that customers will be able to enjoy fishing at the nearby river. At the present time, when there are customers from nursing facilities, we carry or hold them to get them to the riverside. We dream of one day building a fishing spot that enables people in wheelchairs to enjoy lure or fly fishing in the river. However-partially due to the effects of typhoons-we face difficult problems in terms of the strength of man-made structures and permission to build them, which makes this an extremely daunting task.
We also hope that people will use our new fishing pond for rehabilitation and, above all, to enjoy nature. All of our staff members are waiting to welcome you.
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