" my Japanese is near native. " "He gave me 4 of the reliable cab companies in Tokyo, his being one of them. Since then, I look for one of the 4 companies before hailing a cab. Guess that's the only recourse we gaijin would have."
This kind of post always gives me a certain kind of feeling.... How shall I describe it? Let's just say it brings back memories.... I was sure that my Japanese was adequate, the world was against me and that there were a few wise people I could trust to guide me to their "reliable" care. And gosh it is hard to be a "gaijin." Allow me to aver that no, your solution is not the ONLY recourse a "gaijin would have."
You know, bad things are going to happen. Things are going to get lost in translation. These drivers are not Nobel prize winners as most of us undoubtedly are. I don't read a whole lot into anything. At the end of the day, just pay the cabbie, people. Her job sucks. She does not know what is going on, but she is doing her best. She won't rob you. You don't have to tip her. The cab does not stink. You will not be reported to the police for your own drunken and despicable behavior. They are not surly. They wear uniforms and usually gloves for heaven's sake. They have almost a zero probability of being a convicted felon. They are usually well groomed and reserved. They don't get going with idiotic and offensive opinions and discussions. They speak A language that is identifiable. They are not going to take you to a souvenir shop or nag you about your vacation plans or offer you prostitutes or drugs or talk about growing up as a gang member. You won't get drugged a disappear. You won't be let out in a slum. And they won't tell you about their poverty or that they "used to be a lawyer in their home country."
If avoiding all of that ICK costs an extra coin or two, it is a bargain. A BARGAIN. I admit to thinking that Japan is really too good for the 2020 Olympics. Does anybody else feel that way?
I have many many bad taxi stories. Oddly enough they are ALL from other countries, and yes, some involve collisions with pregnant women. And running from the police after a collision. Being let off halfway to my destination while the cabbie runs from police. And that is all just in Las Vegas.
Japan is taxi heaven, or as close as we can get to it. And you know, Malaysia is Malaysia, but I have nothing bad to say about their service. I felt very much at ease with Malaysian taxis.