In terms of human resources, people with physical disabilities and non-Japanese living outside of Takayama City participated in the monitor tours that launched this initiative. The key benefit for the participants was an inexpensive trip to sightsee in Takayama City with roundtrip transportation costs covered by the city. For the city, the key benefit was obtaining a direct and frank assessment from an outsider’s perspective without having to go through an intermediary.
With regard to infrastructural improvements, the bulk of large-scale road repairs were funded by subsidies from the national government. Takayama City provided the financing for improving access to information (such as upgrading the city website to comply with Japanese Industrial Standards, launching tourism website in 12 languages, creating multilingual tourist pamphlets and information boards, installing an information terminal on accessible tourism, creating a hospitality pamphlet, and holding training sessions for businesses in the city).
By approaching community building as municipal policy, long-term improvements could be made in a systematic and continuous manner according to priorities set by the city. This was also an advantage in terms of technical resources, as the work involved could be allocated to specific departments within the Takayama City Office. The upgrading of public toilets to make them more accessible was assigned to the Water and Sewage Department; equipping roads with sidewalks was assigned to the Department of Road Maintenance; and enhancing the tourism information website was assigned to the Tourism Department. This allotment of duties made for more efficient implementation of the initiative.
A barrier-free community entails improving accessibility in private facilities, as well as in public facilities. The city therefore established several types of subsidies to encourage improvements in the private sector. Subsidies to Make Takayama City Safe, Secure and Comfortable established in 2000 cover half of the business expenses, or up to two million yen, incurred in improvements made to hallways, paths, and passageways in facilities used by the general public in large numbers, senior citizens, and persons with physical disabilities in order to comply with new municipal standards. By 2010, approximately 44 million yen had been granted for 34 projects under this subsidy package. Subsidies to Promote International Hospitality established in 2009 cover two-thirds of expenses, or up to 200,000 yen, incurred by private businesses for signage, restaurant menus and other items in languages other than Japanese, as well as for training staff in providing international hospitality. By 2010, approximately 2.8 million yen had been granted for 16 projects under this subsidy package.
The initiative also includes education for children, with tutorial pamphlets created and distributed for use in elementary school classes throughout Takayama City.