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Efforts of odekake office. 5-19-9 Nishiogikita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo

Enjoy Exciting Outings in a Spacious, Comfortable Nursing Taxi

Support Outings for Elderly and Disabled People, Starting with Gathering Information

The nursing taxi service "Wilgo by odekake office." offers an English-speaking service for visitors to Japan as well as a short-distance pick-up/drop-off service within the country.For example, when a wheelchair user wants to go out to a concert, etc., they have to contact the organizer in advance to confirm details like where the entrances and exits are, how to get around in the venue, taking a companion along, and so on. Wilgo doesn't simply offer transportation, but also provides support with gathering this information beforehand, aiming to minimize the burden on the customers as much as possible.
Mr. Sumii, the company's representative, aspires to help disabled and elderly people enjoy exciting outings. We spoke to him about what Wilgo does.

Offer Services Tailored to the Needs of Inbound Visitors

Once, when I was working in the entertainment business, I saw a person who'd come to a concert in a wheelchair. When I started my own business three years ago, I remembered how that person in a wheelchair was smiling after the performance. Having heard about nursing taxis, I thought about how I could help people with disabilities get out and about. That's how this service got started.
I also spent about six and a half years living and working in the United States. Come to think of it, my kid's school was barrier-free, too, and I regularly saw wheelchair users in town living the same as everyone else. This experience also led to what I do now.

When I launched the service, I set the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games as an intermediate goal, so I also created an English website to advertise the service to inbound visitors.People from overseas—including both elderly people and wheelchair users—don't hesitate to visit Japan to experience its society and culture. However, they encounter problems once they get here, such as not being allowed to take hotel wheelchairs out into the city. Rental services for nursing care supplies are often linked to the nursing care insurance system in Japan, so it's difficult for foreigners to use them. Another difficulty I noticed with the existing rental services was that you can't apply for it online. These are new challenges in the age of inbound tourism. Wilgo offers a wheelchair rental service, and online reservations and payments.
I'm going to work on getting things ready now so that customers from abroad will also be able to have a great time in comfort once the COVID-19 pandemic settles down.

Mercedes-Benz used by Wilgo by odekake office.

Users can get in and out with a powered lift

A Spacious Cabin That's Comfortable for Users and Caregivers Alike

At first, my search for a passenger car that could be repurposed into a nursing taxi focused mainly on major Japanese car manufacturers. However, I had to give up on that, because it wasn't possible to install a wheelchair lift in any of the cars I wanted to use. Then, my search happened to take me to Mercedes-Benz, and after discussing things with the equipment installation company, we decided, "This is it."

The car is spacious enough for a wheelchair user to relax during the ride, and for their caregiver to be comfortable, too. It's designed so that the caregiver can sit next to the wheelchair where it's fixed in place, making it easy to talk.
A fully reclining wheelchair is also available as an option, so the user can take a nap during a long trip.

Inside the vehicle

Inside the vehicle

Create Outing Services That Change "Tough" into "Smiles"

Using the Accessible Tourism Promotion Counselor Dispatch Project enabled me to see the way forward, first regarding support for customers from overseas. There's a lack of know-how in the industry now, so I'll be glad if I can provide support.Although the COVID-19 has put things on hold, I've started working on spreading information to people overseas, ready for when things get back to normal. Specifically, we've approached ENAT (the European Network for Accessible Tourism), and have already partnered up with Mr. Josh Grisdale, the administrator of the Accessible Japan website.

For upcoming programs, I'm planning a beauty experience tour for people with visual impairments together with Japan Beauty Blind (JBB). The program will take visually impaired people on a tour of nail salons and fashion stores recommended by JBB. There's a limit to how far I can provide the best services just on my own, and that also includes the legal aspects. I think it's necessary to create each service in partnership with the relevant industries.
Here's an example of one of my clients: there's a couple around 90 who regularly go to a hairdresser in the town where they used to live, even after they've moved away. When we set out, they look like they're having a hard time going and even say it's tough, but on the way home after getting a haircut, they're all smiles. "We were reluctant to go at first, but now we're on our way, it's really exciting." I want more people to experience this kind of feeling.

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