Dec 20, 2017
Anecdotes about taxis in Japan
I have to say public transportation in this country is one of the reasons I love living in Japan so much. In the states, public transit is either non-existent in non-major cities or it smells gross and the poor workers have such a hard time they can't help but show it while one the job.
From trains to buses to everything in between, Japan's public transportation has impeccable service. The trains are almost never late, and heaven forbid if they leave too early. Buses are about as prevalent as trains, giving access to anywhere the rail system won't take you. And if you really just can't get there by train or bus, there is always a taxi nearby.
Now, I'm not the type of person to use a taxi unless I need to. I'd rather walk if I've got the time to make it to my destination. However, there are a few times taxis have saved my butt. The times I've missed a bus, kind taxi drivers have bailed me out of some sticky situations. Even with my problems with local buses, I know I can always rely on a taxi to get me where I need to go. One specific time was for my trip to Hokkaido. There was a package deal for a few nights in an amazing hotel and the plane tickets were even included in the deal. But the flight times weren't the most convenient. Getting to Narita in the morning either meant missing work to stay near the airport or catching the 3 am bus. Not wanting to miss work, I picked the bus, but I flopped and woke up at 3 am, sleeping straight through my alarm. I still called a taxi just to see if I could catch the 4 am bus without a pre-bought ticket. Turns out I didn't have to because my taxi driver was a superhero. His superpower was driving me to the next stop for the bus in the next town before the bus got there. This meant I still arrived at the airport at the time I had first intended and I was guaranteed a seat, my own. He refused a tip and didn't even charge me for the extra distance because he said it was so much fun.
There are times though, that I have chosen to go by taxi, and not just to get me out of a predicament. When I was hit by a car, I had to go to the hospital several times for check-ups. I was pregnant and my entire body was sore from head to toe. The idea of walking over a flight of stairs to the train platform, sitting on a swaying train, and then still having to take a taxi from the train station to the hospital was unappealing, to say the least. It was easy just to skip a few steps and take the taxi straight from my house to the hospital. Besides, the insurance from the guy who hit me was paying for my transit anyway. I should have hired a limousine or a helicopter. But that taxi driver became my personal chauffeur, taking me to the police station and all of my hospital visits. Really friendly and courteous, just like most of the taxi drivers I've encountered here.
His biggest piece of advice to all the foreigners that he has given rides to, “Don't slam the door. You don't even need to touch it. Let the driver close it.” The passenger doors are almost all automated on taxis in Japan. The driver can open and close them with the push of a button. When passengers try to close the door themselves, there is a chance they could break it. It's probably good to take his advice and just enjoy the taxi ride. Leave the door opening and closing to the driver.
American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too