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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.
Now that the spread of the new coronavirus has slowed down and inbound demand is showing signs of recovery, we would like to strive to provide services that can be enjoyed comfortably by our overseas customers.

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 turns "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 corona virus pandemic is over, we are starting to disseminate information to everyone overseas. Specifically, I would like to approach ENAT (European Network for Accessible Tourism) and others, and further expand our collaboration with Josh Grisdale, who manages the Accessible Japan website, and other related organizations.

For upcoming programs, we are planning beauty experience tour for people with visual impairments together with Japan Beauty Blind (JBB) and developing a tour package with a travel agency that specializes in barrier-free tours, and to expand our network with other companies in the same industry that can handle English-speaking tourists. I am also planning to expand my network with other English-speaking companies in the industry to meet inbound demand. There are limits to what I can do on my own to provide optimal services, including those related to legal matters. I believe that it is necessary to work in cooperation with related industries to create each service.
As an example of one of our customers, we have a lady in her 90s who has been a regular customer of our beauty salon for many years. She has been restricted from going out due to the Corona disaster and complains of physical decline, but when she gets her hair cut at the salon and goes home, she smiles more. We would like to increase the number of such occasions.

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