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Tokyo Tales – Day 11: Wednesday, January 25, 2006

January 30th, 2006 - Monday

We made another field trip to Setagaya led by Maejima-san. I do not mind the long journey and several train changes because the scenery along the way gave me a glimpse into the beautiful Japanese landscape and her people. We were to visit HANDS Setagaya, an Independent Living Centre that practices a somewhat different concept from what we have previously learnt. Yokoyama-san, one of the founders of HANDS Setagaya was there to greet us.

Before he began his lecture, we had bento for lunch. This bento shop we visited is different as we were allowed to choose our own dishes. We were charged according to the weight of the food. We paid more than our usual bento from Sun’r'Us but Maejima-san and I agreed that we do not mind paying a little more for being able to choose our food.

Yokoyama-san is a man to be reckoned with. He is living with cerebral palsy. His centre serves cerebral palsy users mostly because of the special school for cerebral palsy is situated nearby. In his earlier years, he had among others jumped onto the railway tracks and chained himself to it and even bit the mayor to put his points across. And this man can talk on-stop for hours had it not for me requesting a toilet break.

It was fun to be able to be in Shinjuku again for our connecting train back to Hino. It was just awesome to see the never-ending stream of smartly dressed people moving ceaselessly everywhere we went. Field trips like this is interesting but it is beginning to wear me down. Although Calvin is pushing my wheelchair most of the time, the cold was beginning to get to me. Nevertheless, I am glad we were able to see and experience for ourselves the way people with disabilities live independently in Tokyo. We still have a long way to go in Malaysia. The authorities involved with transportation and roadworks must make a concerted effort to make such facilities accessible to enable people with disabilities to lead a more fulfilling life outside the confines of their homes.



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