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Why are Tokyo cabbies so clueless?

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By Daniel Robson

Last week I had a fight with a taxi driver.

In general, I’m kind of a laid-back guy. I get on well with most people, and very rarely feel the urge to throttle someone from behind until their eyes bulge out of their skull and their face turns blue. Rarely, that is, unless I step into the back seat of a Tokyo taxi.

Taxis in London may be horrendously expensive and driven by motor-mouth, but at least they know the roads, thanks to a strict and mandatory licensing test called The Knowledge. And while your average British minicab driver may not know the route so well, at least they can figure out how to use a GPS—plus they’re cheap.

Tokyo taxi drivers are the worst of both worlds: expensive and crap. The first question your average driver will ask after you tell them your destination is, “Right, and how do we get there, then?” Surely the obvious answer is, “In a taxi”? They certainly can’t expect us to know Tokyo’s streets better than them—can they?

The trouble is, the vast majority of cabbies have no grasp whatsoever of the city, thanks largely to the fact that so many come in from neighboring towns, lured by the lucrative Tokyo fares. And while their cars are usually equipped with a GPS, they almost never input your destination, even if you ask them to, instead using it as a glorified moving map. And then they get horribly, horribly lost—with the meter steadily running—and blame you for not navigating properly.

I don’t really consider Japan to be the customer-oriented culture people say it is, but you’d never find such poor service in a restaurant, convenience or other store. I’ve had drivers wind down the window to ask passersby for directions, or leave the cab completely to ask a shopkeeper. I once had a taxi driver stop literally one corner away from my home (a corner I didn’t recognize), pore intensely over a map for nearly ten minutes—with the meter ticking and the GPS idle—and then try to charge me full whack when we finally got there.

Speaking of which, let’s get back to the encounter I mentioned earlier. So, I had to be somewhere between Shibuya and Ebisu stations (but closer to Ebisu) by noon to interview a band. It would have taken me just as long to transfer at Shibuya, take the Yamanote line one stop to Ebisu and walk, as it would to hop in a taxi from Shibuya station. And since I had to scribble some notes en route, I settled on the taxi option. Much less hassle, right?

Wrong. Like most Tokyo cabbies, this moron started driving before even properly looking at my map (in this case, prepared on my iPhone); he then fired up his GPS—a miracle!—and proceeded to enter the wrong address. “I’m pretty sure the map on my phone is more accurate,” I said in polite Japanese. “It’s OK, I know where we’re going,” came the reply.

After about 15 minutes, the GPS on my phone revealed we were traveling in the exact opposite direction down Meiji Dori. After several requests, he finally looked at my map and turned the car around, getting me to my destination just after noon. He then had the gall to ask for the full fare displayed on the meter.

“Since you got so lost, racked up double the fare and made me late for my appointment, let’s call it half, yes?” I said as calmly as I could, passing over my cash and making for the open door. He slammed it shut with the driver’s seat mechanism and locked it. “You gave me the wrong address! I’m taking you to the police station!” he yelled.

With my goal in sight, my blood boiling and no time to spare, the last thing I needed was to be kidnapped by a lunatic taxi driver. So I lifted the latch, forced the door open and headed, shaking with the sort of fury I seldom muster, for my rendezvous; the screaming driver chased me down the street, into the building, and kicked the outer frame of the elevator doors hard as they closed with me inside. Most undignified, I’m sure you’ll agree.

What, you don’t? You think I acted in bad faith? Well, look here, goody two-shoes: these are the idiots who sleep in their cars with the engine running, pumping exhaust needlessly into the atmosphere. Got a heavy suitcase? Lug it into the trunk yourself, mate, because the taxi driver usually won’t help you. And how convenient for them that they get a higher salary the less familiar they are with the roads.

Sure, there are some honest taxi drivers—and even some competent ones. More the pity for them, then, that the vast majority are such intolerable bastards.

Daniel Robson is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.

This commentary originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

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143 Comments
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Tokyo-based tax drivers can use both GPS assistance or own experiences to get a short route. We don't count based one case or two case, in other countries, we can see two sides of a matter. "no tips" is a first thing we see in Japan. Automatically-opening door is installed in Japanese taxis. Now some taxi companies have equipped Wi-Fi accessibility inside their taxis or iPads available to search necessary info ...

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agree totally, the quality has really dropped over the last few years, those guys are so frikkin old.....

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I've all the countries I've been to, I'd have to say Japanese taxis are the worst. Even in relatively small towns near the stations, you still need to tell them exactly how to get to the destination. They don't seem to have any concept of anything other than the "pretend" customer service you see here. Every other taxi I've taken in every other country recognized the relationship between time and money. Japanese taxi drivers tend to treat everybody like an Obasan with nothing better to do that to spend twenty minutes slowly driving down the grocery store for the daily shopping.

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In Tokyo, the goverment should change the street name and number by having exact property location such as 123 First St. Tokyo, that is similar to U.S. I think Kyoto has this. This will make all travelers including taxi and police easier to find final destination.

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Given the way in which Japanese addresses are assigned, and the reconstruction of a place like Tokyo, it must be near impossible to navigate.

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I’m a pretty regular taxi user, and have had a full range of experiences over the past ten years, from a self-proclaimed “newbie” who didn’t know how to get from Omotesando to Akasaka (a really straightforward trip), to the clueless lunk who drove 10+km out of the way to take me to Kiyosu Dori when I’d repeatedly told him Kiyosubashi Dori, to being refused pick-up by the same driver, twice, trying to get home from Akasaka. But 90% of the time, I couldn’t be happier with the service. I agree that a more comprehensive, stricter test of knowledge is needed for many of these drivers, and I refuse to get in a “kojin” cab because those guys, despite their alleged 10+ years of accident-free driving and supposedly superior skills, almost inevitably prove to be the rudest of the lot, but by and large, I think Tokyo’s taxis do a pretty decent job.

"...exact property location such as 123 First St. Tokyo, that is similar to U.S. I think Kyoto has this."

Kyoto addresses are, if anything, more confusing to the newcomer than U.S.-style street addresses. The streets are laid out in a grid, which is easier to navigate than the jumbled maze that is Tokyo or Osaka, but the address system itself is quirky at best (naming intersections and then whether to go "right" or "left", "up" or "down" from the intersection, etc.), until you get used to it.

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In Tokyo, the goverment should change the street name and number by having exact property location such as 123 First St. Tokyo, that is similar to U.S. I think Kyoto has this. This will make all travelers including taxi and police easier to find final destination.

Ha, ha! That will never happen! Wishful thinking. Not only in Tokyo, but pretty much most of Japan, this is a huge problem. While I agree with you, I can't see it happening in the foreseeable future. Heck, most don't even use GPS! There would be a lot of laziness, bureaucracy and time-lagging on the governments part (we all know how long things take to get implemented in this country) I mean think about the amount work that would take, labeling every street, curb and house. On the other hand, Japan would greatly benefit if it were to do that. Taxi drivers wouldn't need to call in anymore, you'd get to your destination much faster and less the hassle.

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I can not agree more with Mr.Daniel Robson! Taxis in not just Tokyo but most of Japan are CRAP! I am not sure if these jerks really do not know or if these idiots are just pretending not to know so they can keep charging you more and more money but my guess maybe all of the above, try to get an idiot taxi driver that may even understand a bit of English, leaving NARITA or HANEDA, this should be mandatory, any decent country where you have big international airports, someone usually can understand at least a bit of English, but Japan???

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any decent country where you have big international airports, someone usually can understand at least a bit of English

You get that in United States (quasi-English speaking country).

Why are Tokyo cabbies so clueless?

Probably has to do with the deregulation back in 2002 where cab companies could increase their fleet without too much red tape. Result=increase in bad drivers.

the goverment should change the street name and number by having exact property location such as 123 First St. Tokyo

"Take me to 1834 Meiji Dori".

Exact property location specified except for the inconvenient fact that Meiji Dori is 33 km long extending 9 wards.

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You think I acted in bad faith?

No, I think you committed a crime. And now you've profited from that action by publishing your "horror story" under your real name.

You don't have the right to skip out on a fare any more than you do to pay what you thought a meal was worth at a restaurant.

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You think I acted in bad faith?

No, I think you committed a crime.

Great Comment!

Tokyo taxi drivers are the worst of both worlds: expensive and crap.

Did the author come up with this deduction before or after the experience?

If it was after, I can see how he would be angry and NEVER ride in a Tokyo taxi again.

If it was made before the experience, well what did he expect? Nobody forced him to ride a taxi. Stick to the trains or a bike.

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It looks like the taxi drivers receive a fixed salary (or don't care earning more) because I always see taxi cabs waiting for hours at stations or drivers sleeping in their cars. If they were paid mostly as a percentage of the income they generate, it might force them being more proactive. There shouldn't be any discrimination against old people, but here it seems to be the contrary: why are only middle-aged/old men driving taxis? No younger people, no women, no immigrants? Do they have to pass a knowledge test? When I was in China (or even Hong Kong), the taxi drivers were restless at trying to get new customers and trying to get you as fast as possible to your destination.

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I know my city well and take cabs only occasionally, but when I do I almost always know the usual routes to where I'm going. Even so I've had cab drivers try to take me for a ride, so to speak, on multiple occasions. Usually just letting them know that I know they're going the wrong way solves the problem, but sometimes they get really argumentative, at which point I have them pull over and let me out right away. I understand they don't make a lot of money, but I don't make enough to give charity to scamming cab drivers, either. And if they get that angry at being called out on trying to rob me, then I don't feel safe in a cab with them anyway. There are other honest cab drivers out there that I can give my business to.

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By the way, hokkaidoguy is right. Even though the driver was clueless, you did not have the right to avoid paying the full fare. You should have written the ID number and name of the taxi driver and complain to the company if you thought the service was not appropriate.

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Methinks the writer of the article rants too much.

Granted there are some taxi-drivers that aren't that hot, but contrary to the article most don't come from outside Tokyo to drive here, but are retrenched, etc Salary-men.

Used to take a taxi multiple times a day during the busy season at work and always got where I wanted with minor hassles. Granted many cabbies do get lost when they have to venture outside their normal area. But if a cabbie from Kawasaki can find my Apartment in Nerima all is good.

Granted I mostly travelled on Company money and paid with the slip and the drivers know that if they charge extra they will get a complaint from the company when collecting.

And, yes, at times I also had to guide a Taxi-driver to the destination, had to do the same in a few other countries.

Wonder why people are still can't find addresses in japan, the system is pretty easy to understand and master after a brief 5 minute explanation. Wiki has an explanation too.

Most taxis I used freely used the GPS from the get go. Granted at times the driver will ask which route to take, some people do prefer certain routes.

Agree cabbies in London are pricey but found their service average.

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" don’t really consider Japan to be the customer-oriented culture people say it is," The most honest quote I have seen in a JT article. Well said.

There is this imaginary uber-service that Japan claims as a key ingredient of the culture. Which is utter nonsense. While service is attentive, it is restricted to a fixed range of options that are very often inflexible and inadequate. True uber-service must by definition be flexible and customer centric. Not pedantic and cumbersom.

Taxis here are in a word "Dreadful" for the most part. Very often getting lost, taking the longest route possible, or nearly running down pedestrians as my lovely driver demonstrated last Friday.

Rule #1 enter a tax with a clear idea of how you intend to get to your destination. Or very forcefully tell the driver to enter the route to the GPS. Both seem to work ok.

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I agree, the writer really shouldn't have walked off without paying. However, that situation sounds utterly ridiculous, and I do not blame him at all for being angry. I've only taken one or two cabs in my time here, and each time was okay. Actually the last one I took was really a nice guy who actually felt bad and apologized for making me pay through the teeth because I missed the last train to my town and he had to drive me several towns over.

For the ones that are less than savory... It's really hard to know where you are going, especially when you're in area that you're just visiting and you only know the address. This makes me wary of ever taking one again, at least in Tokyo.

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Your expectations on Japan can't be compared to another country, that is the writers first mistake. Second the address system is Japan is so complex that it is impossible for anyone to know where to go exactly. Third by them asking you "which way to do want to go" when you get in is being polite, they are asking you do you have a preferred way or want to take the highway. As for the GPS use, I suggest you give them a map or address on paper, Japanese drivers wont look at phones.

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all the more reason to take the bus, ride a bike, or walk it seems.

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Why is it every 3-5 years does JT have to put up some other foreigners whining account of how bad the taxi service is in Tokyo? Long-term residents or newly arrived, JT can always find some sap willing to write a story about their "terrible" experience with a cabby who couldn't find some (more than likely, but never truthfully reported) obscure Tokyo address.

I'll say it here and now, in 8 years, I've never had a bad experience in a cab, in Japan. (Knock on wood and keeping fingers crossed.)

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Sure, there are some honest taxi drivers—and even some competent ones. More the pity for them, then, that the vast majority are such intolerable bastards.

They don't need your pity, jag-off.

Taxi drivers work 24 hour shifts, that's why they "catnap" in their cars... Some cabbies assist with your bag, if you ask. The cars are always clean, and GPS is used more times than not.

Although I've had, and so has most anyone, in any city, experienced bad cabbies, his complaints are not enough to warrant bad-mouthing the whole bunch.

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The driver should have pad the fair ONLY because he didnt get out of the cab immediately when the driver entered the wrong address, or started driving without looking at the map. I have hopped out of many an incompetent cabdrivers taxi due to their ineptitude. If you stay in the cab, you are responsible for the fare. And I DIDNT pay the base fare for my 30 seconds in the car. I believe you can make a sound evaluation after 60 seconds and that is your grace period to change your mind.

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whyRuasking

Agree, we get articles like the ones where the authors whine about this and that in japan regularly. Most of the writers seem to be "Free-Lance". Hrm??? And it seems they always appeal to the same target crowd.

Maybe Metropolis should publish more positive ones like other english speaking publications do. Or some that give info and help for other expats that might face a certain problem.

More real-life experiences pls and less rants.

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Why not make the business more competitive for drivers?

salary proportional to the income generated by the driver

bring in more diversity in the drivers pool: younger generations, women, immigrants, etc...

ban 24h shifts (this is too dangerous for the driver and for passengers as drivers are chronically tired and depressed)

install a satisfaction reporting system in front of passengers seats, like I saw in China (you can press a button to indicate whether the ride was OK or not)

organize customer service and technical/geographical knowledge tests on a regular basis
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to being refused pick-up by the same driver, twice, trying to get home from Akasaka

Actually, it is illegal for them to refuse service. If it is an operating taxi (with the red available sign on) and he refuses to take you, report him. He can have his taxi license revoked for things like that.

While I generally agree that taxi drivers are incompetent and downright dangerous (almost got killed a few times back when I commuted by motorcycle), you do occasionally encounter a decent driver. Just the other day, commenting that "hmm, that is a few yen more than the same route usually takes" got me a reduction in the fare. I wasn't asking for a reduction, just commenting that meters are not always the same. Even got the receipt for the meter price which was more than I paid.

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On behalf of Tokyo taxi drivers everywhere, especially the ones in Tokyo, I refute the rash generalisations propounded by the author. My experience with them was only good. They used the GPS, I recall one on finding the destination via GPS then took a shortcut thus saving me a few Yen.

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OMG I HATE TAXI DRIVERS IN JAPAN! I have met only a few that weren't tools. I live in Osaka and those guys have ZERO respect for anyone on the road. If you drive in the middle of Umeda at night during Friday and Saturday, any 4 lane road has taxis taking up 2 of the lanes and sometimes an idiot poking out in a 3rd lane. I places like Tokyo I can semi-understand taxi drivers needing some help navigating but in my little tiny town(outside of Osaka)? There is a whole fleet parked at this "local" train station and I have to tell them the general direction we are going (an elementary school) then give precise directions from there. I mean come on you don't know the address system in a tiny little town????

The only good taxi service I've received was traveling with my wife's father who has some friends in the taxi biz.

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Like others said.

When my wife was very sick, we often had to take a Taxi home she had problems standing and sitting. Not far 1 station on the Chuo-line. Fares 95% of the times were within a small bracket, at times the driver even apologized as the fare got high due to being stuck in traffic, etc.

The good ones would take to the back-roads, etc and we got there fast and cheap.

Most of the times they asked us which route to take, north or south of the train-line. Also don't help that the road we live on changes names and goes over a railway line with NO crossing.

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I agree there are good and bad drivers. But i would not brand them all useless. Why so much negativity?

We know that it is pot luck on the type of driver we get, therefore here is my advice:

'Take everything we know about taxi drivers into consideration and allow at least an extra 15 minutes to compensate for any potential delays'.

Remember, these old drivers are only trying to make a living like the rest of us. So we need to be understanding and flexible as customers. Ranting and raving about it is not going to get you anywhere - so plan ahead...

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This will never happen when you are in Kansai. Tokyo people are a little snub. This is what I noticed when we moved to Osaka from Tokyo.. Taxi drivers in Osaka will stop their meters when they make a mistake...

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The taxis have gotten worse in the past few years due to the economy. More people who don't know anything about Tokyo are showing up and getting driver gigs. This is because there is less and less opportunity out there.

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In my experience, they are pretty awful. I once got in a taxi in Roppongi and asked to go to Mita 1-chome, which to anyone who knows the area is basically next to Azabu-Juban station. The halfwit then had the temerity to ask how to get there. I and and my friend promptly got out and walked.

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I avoided taking taxis, because they're expensive in Japan. But I never had any bad experience with them. Perhaps because I always told the driver that my final point would be a Jusco, or a gas station. I never asked them to stop in front of an apartment building, because it was clear he would spend at least more ten minutes looking for that specific spot. The rest of the address I would look for by myself. And I never met a rude taxi driver. May have met the mute ones, but never an angry one. Now, what really call a bad experience is riding in NY taxis. There were some I thought they would me a subject of next year's CSI.

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How hard is it to take a moment and enter an address into the navi? Answer. It isn't. But so many taxi driver's won't do so and then get lost. This is not service. Why have a navi if you won't use it?

Where did they learn to drive? Answer. There are great taxi drivers here but there are many people who drive like maniacs. Last Friday the driver almost killed an old guy crossing the road then went on to nearly take out another pedestrian. And I am often dodging taxis as they careen through narrow streets. There should be a higher standard.

Polite Service reality or myth? Answer. both. I have had great service but mostly in the suburbs where drivers know the town and the people. Too many city taxis are pretty much terrible. So your experience will depend on where you live and where you most often hop into a cab.

As for those who say you cannot compare cities or countries. Utter BS!!! From economics to food human beings compare the things they know and judge accordingly. This is human nature and a valid way of measuring quality in like services.

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I find this unfair. Compared to where I am from and the ones I have seen in US and some other countries I have travelled, the taxi drivers here are quite good.

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Most taxi drivers are retirees who's small pension can't cover the basics or they are "unprepared" salarimen who got restructured. The high roller gaikokujin who wrote this article, would have done better if he was aware of their situation. I hope for his sake he is not old and out of money someday driving a cab.

That said, I believe that if your going to do a job, do it right. For a taxi driver, learning GPS and the credit card machine, having wireless communication etc is vital.

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Maybe I'm just lucky... but the few times that I've been in a cab here, the drivers refused to take my money, and took me to my destination for free.

Actually I once even had a funny experience on a city bus... the driver chatted with me the whole ride, and when we reached my stop, he continued past it, and then dropped me off directly in front of the shop I wanted to go to. (there were no other passengers at that time). And he refused to take my money!

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Like I said my wife was sick and often needed a taxi to go to the NCC(National Cancer Clinic) opposite Tsukiji from Musashino-shi

She called them on the phone and they arrived at her door and that is a teenie side-road where a Crown struggles to turn a corner.

But what I found service depends on the company. Some are better and others are .....

Seems strange that they can find your doorstep(within given time-limit) to pick you up but are lost when dropping you off.

Tkoind2.

Shall I start comparing Taxis to greece, etc where we rode in ones with shot springs, etc? Or talk about guys that got taken from the airport for a loong ride overseas or even worse to a construction site and got relieved of valuables, etc.

Taxi-Drivers across the globe can be dicey and unless you speak the local dialect they will try to take you for what you got.

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With my goal in sight, my blood boiling and no time to spare, the last thing I needed was to be kidnapped by a lunatic taxi driver. So I lifted the latch, forced the door open and headed, shaking with the sort of fury I seldom muster, for my rendezvous; the screaming driver chased me down the street, into the building, and kicked the outer frame of the elevator doors hard as they closed with me inside. Most undignified, I’m sure you’ll agree.

LOL! Sounds like Tokyo Musen!

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>Most undignified, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Almost as undignified as refusing to pay a taxi fare and then trying to justify your actions by writing a self-righteous article.

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I fail to understand why the writer continues to take taxis after, apparently, so many bad experiences. Try a bike, or a train, or buy your own car. There are many options out there.

I generally find them quite good. Sometimes I have to give directions for narrow back streets, but helping the driver with directions happens no matter what country I visit. The cars are clean and well-maintained, unlike Montreal, the drivers load my bags, and generally offer very good service. I haven't had a bad experience yet.

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I can relate with Daniel as I have taken a lot of taxis in Tokyo over the past 7 years. I also agree with some of the posters who said that one cannot judge taxi drivers from one poor experience. Generally they are quite okay, but there are many black sheep. First thing to note if you're taking taxis between several destinations that you know well is to remember the most commonly known landmarks/roads/points of interest near your destination. Do not try to go into back streets as this confuses most taxi drivers. However, if you're going to a place that you do not know well, then this does not apply and you will need to pay attention that your driver is going the right direction. Over the past 7 years I've had a lot of poor encounters: Once needed to take a taxi from Meguro to Hiroo as I was running late. The guy didn't understand Hiroo at all, no matter how many different ways I pronounced it. I even went as far as to describe it's approximate location by mentioning where it would be on the Hibiya line. After 10 minutes of tinkering with the GPS we were off! Fast forward 5 minutes and wham - hit a pedestrian. I saw him from the backseat clearly, but I did not say anything. The reason being that a friend once told me that a similar thing happened to him and he told the cab to stop and they hit the pedestrian anyway - when the police arrived the cabbie blamed my friend because he apparently distracted him. Class act.

Another time my wife had terrible stomach pains at around 10PM and we called a cab to our house (which costs 500 yen extra) to drive us to the hospital. They told us that it would take 15 minutes for the cab to get to our house - it took 45. We had the address of the hospital ready in Kanji - it took 10 minutes to enter the address. The drive should have been 10 minutes - it took 25. So, yes, whilst my wife was in pain the cabbie took about an extra hour to get us there and charged us the full fare, plus the ordering fee.

Other events include: -Another pedestrian hit -3 car pile up caused by my driver -When the route clearly indicated that we should go past Shibuya on the outskirts, he drives through Shibuya crossing during rush hour. -Going down one way streets. -From Aoyama-Itchome to Ebisu, drives via Meguro, resulting in a 50% higher fare than usual.

There are many many more stories, but these are the ones which stick out at the moment.

Bottom line: Generally cabbies in Tokyo are okay, but know how to use them and always be on the look-out for any unforeseen circumstances. Be vary of the many black sheep...

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Taking a cab from Nagatacho to go to Tokyo station (only big avenues, only 3 traffic lights to turn at), a cabbie asked me once how to go there...

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Taxis in not just Tokyo but most of Japan are CRAP!

Tut-tut. Big words. Hugely inflated. Maybe I haven't been in Japan as long as you have - only 40 some years. I can't vouch for Tokyo, really. But my experiences in western Japan are very favorable. Drivers are courteous, they generally know the way. If they didn't they had their radio and now navigation. They ask which route I wish to take if there are different ways. They put the heavy cases in the trunk. They switch on the meter AFTER driving off and switch it off BEFORE stopping the vehicle.

I just thought I had to say something in defense of the taxi driver after reading all these hugely exaggerated, venomous comments.

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In contrast I will also mention notable cabbies: Ex-Director at Hakuhodo in his mid 60s who was very polite and friendly and knew how to use his GPS well. Former liquor store manager in LA who moved back to Japan 5ish years before I met him. Funny guy and fluent English. Knew the backroads like the back of his hand. Driver in his mid 30s who was quite chatty and told me about his plan to open a limousine business. Smooth sailing. Heavy-set guy with slicked back hair in his late 30s who must have had professional driving lessons as he can whip a cab to it's destination quickly and the ride is comfortable. I had him as my driver at least on two occasions.

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Zenny "Shall I start comparing Taxis to greece, etc..."

Compare to anywhere you want. It is a matter of expectation isn't it? Do you expect Greece to have the taxis of NY or Tokyo or London? No. Do you expect NY, London and Tokyo, the major modern world centers of the earth to be similar. Sure.

Look Seattle taxis will take you for a ride, rip you off and make you thankful you survived the trip. If you can get a taxi in the first place. But I don't expect a mid sized city like Seattle where most people drive to be a good place for Taxis.

But NY or San Francisco people drive less and taxis know where they are going and don't often jerk you around. Not always friendly or polite, but effective.

I expect Tokyo to have damned fine taxi service. And in parts of the city and with some companies that is exactly what you get. But the mainstream taxis can be from hell. Too often not knowing where to go or driving like insane people. I dare you to walk the streets around Ichikawa at night and not have at least one near miss by a taxi. Or find one in some parts of the city that have any idea how to use the navi. From this I expect more.

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"I fail to understand why the writer continues to take taxis after, apparently, so many bad experiences. Try a bike, or a train, or buy your own car. There are many options out there."

There are many reasons to take taxis from actual price to convenience. 1) Even if you take two cabs a day at an average fare of 2000yen each, per working year (250days) you will be paying around 1MJPY. With your own car, parking at home in central Tokyo costs 30,000-70,000 a month (up to 840,000/year). Then you have to find a parking spot, which is often difficult to do in central Tokyo. They are also quite pricey. 2) Being able to work whilst getting to your destination. 3) Far walk from train access.
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I have had only good experiences with cabs in all of Japan.

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I don't think he did commit a crime. He disputed the amount owed for services rendered which is a civil matter in most countries. He didn't obtain goods or services dishonestly, i.e by implicitly saying he would pay by getting in the taxi and then not having enough, or any, money, and he didn't simply outright refuse to pay even if he had had the money. And in this case from the standard of service offered him, assuming he reported it accurately, I would side with him.

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Tkoind2.

Wrong, I would expect the same service everywhere same as you obviously do from your posts here. Your biases, etc are well known here and very transparent as many posters have pointed out. Goose = Ganter, Pot + Kettle.

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oikawa.

Wrong, he needs to take it up with the company, same as any other customer complaint may it be Wally World, etc.

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The comments in here are so funny... Guys, one bad experience does not make all cabbies bad. Fact. But in the same way, just because you never had a bad experience does not mean it's not possible for anyone else to. It doesn't invalidate that person's experience or complaints.

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Zenny Nonsense, nonsense. I did not ever say that Tokyo's taxis should be compared to any nation anywhere. That would be absurd as you likely well know.

My biases, as you call them, are not in question mate. I am critical of Japan as I am of my home country. I think anyone who actually reads my posts knows I am not only hard on Japan.

It is not wrong to be critical of services, situations or conditions. We can only improve the world if we look at it through critical eyes. It is a form of caring and something Japan and Japanese people should do a lot more of if they expect to stave off the decline of this country. And something you should learn to differentiate from pots and kettles friend.

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the problem is that you tend to remember the bad experience more so than uneventful ones.

generally, considering the address/road system, i find taxis in japan are pretty good. the problem in tokyo is that you get drivers coming in from saitama who don't have a clue and just clog up the streets around the station waiting for fares.

and they end up waiting cause the fares are too expensive so nobody wants to ride unless on a expense account or out of necessity. look at HK, there are tons of taxis but during rush hours and when it rains its nearly impossible to get one cause they are so cheap that people think nothing of shelling out the money to ride.

as for the quality of the drivers, they do vary from company to company. i've found ebisu and mk are pretty good. also kojin drivers, they may be gruff sometimes but they do know where they are going and are fast.

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Tkoind2.

I exit this discussion with the below quotes:

Do you expect NY, London and Tokyo, the major modern world centers of the earth to be similar. Sure.

I did not ever say that Tokyo's taxis should be compared to any nation anywhere.

Cheers.

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What a ridiculous article. In every occupation you get people who are good at something and people who are not so good at something. I have taken taxis all over Japan and never had an experience like that.

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btw, i had a friend who lived out in kawasaki and after the trains shut down he would just go down the line of taxis and ask them if they would take him home for a 5000yen. except during bonenkai season, he would inevitably find someone that would.

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Here's a little insight into Tokyo taxi drivers and GPS systems. Some of the drivers don't, in fact, know how to use the systems, which are generally installed by the company, regardless--and with minimal training. That's the company's problem, and something they should address.

But many drivers avoid using the GPS unless the customer specifically requests it, because a lot of Japanese customers will chew out the driver for relying on the GPS, which they imagine somehow computes a less efficient route than the driver could come up with (this isn't usually the case, of course). Traveling to an obscure address, I've had several drivers make a point of asking me first before entering the address in their GPS terminal, for this very reason.

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Zenny11

Wrong, he hasn't paid yet so why should he take it up with the company? The company can take it up with him. It's not a one-way street. I said it's that way in most countries, I don't know about Japan, but in England there was a case where exactly that happened. A man walked away from a taxi after paying what he thought the trip was worth and said "Sue me!" when the cabbie screamed at him demanding payment. The driver then called the police and after talking to both of them the police said "Err yeah, sue him if you think you deserve the full fare"

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If Daniel had legs like me, he would find the service perfect!

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Most cabbies are paid on a 50% of fare basis. I've had chats with dozens of cab drivers in Japan. So you'll see a lot of them coasting in the left lane not paying attention to the road, because they are looking at the side walks. The ones who cue up are either tired or just do the taxi gig in order to have something to do, eg. retired.

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I usually tell the driver which route to take. If not, they`ll take the longest/slowest (most traffic lights)one. Never had a problem.

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Let's say Mr. Robson is totally right? Does it give him any right to insult? "moron", "idiots" and "bustards"....is this called freedom of speech? Mr. Robson, I highly recommend you to leave your "white man superiority ego" behind. Far behind! If you don't like anything in Japan, you have a right to criticize, nicely. If you are not able to do it due to your personality or educational background, please go back to your place in which i am sure you feel yourself more happy!

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oikawa.

Wrong, he hasn't paid yet so why should he take it up with the company?

Ever tried that argument with cops or in court after you received a service and refused to pay or only paid in half?

Most places you will get arrested on the spot if the cabbie calls the cops.

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You think I acted in bad faith?

No, I think you committed a crime. And now you've profited from that action by publishing your "horror story" under your real name.

You don't have the right to skip out on a fare any more than you do to pay what you thought a meal was worth at a restaurant.

Totally agree with this post, this guy daniel sounds very unreasonable.

If you want to dispute the bill there is proper channels to go through as opposed to just running off, this is illegal.

In defence of tokyo's cabbies i always find the taxis to be very clean and tidy and the drivers well presented, unlike some countries i have used cabs in including hong kong, rude drivers, US old dirty cabs with drivers with bad attitudes, NZ with its fleet of old cabs done millions of miles on bad condition and immigrnat drivers who often actually live in their cabs and understand very little english.

Tokyo cabs cab drivers are amongst some of the best in the world!!

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Not sure why they are so clueless, but the next article should be: "Why do Metropolis writers complain so much?"

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Wow! Such negativity! Sure, people have good and bad experiences but as many have pointed out, one bad experience does not tarnish the whole lot!

I have had 90% good experiences with taxis - helping me with baggage, chatting politely, spotlessly clean cabs and drivers, and no ripping me off. I think it definitely helps if you gently let them know you speak Japanese - eg I always tell them in Japanese the area I want to go to and then say when we get closer I will give directions. My mum (who doesn`t speak Japanese) was ripped off once by a cabbie, but that is a very unusual occurance by our experience.

I`ve even had a cabbie waive the fee and wish me good luck when we sped through the city to the hospital with me puffing and panting in labour in the early hours of the morning, and another one expressing concern for my friend I was escorting home when she was very sick and offering to divert to an ER room.

My issue is with my fellow cab-takers if anything: one beeyitch once punched me in the face to get my cab after I hailed it in the street!

I have to agree though that their driving skills suck!

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Women cabbies always give me gum...must be because of natto breath. They are all very nice to me.

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Tokyo taxi drivers are the worst of both worlds: expensive and crap.

Sorry. I'm just not reading beyond that. Mr. Robson obviously needs to get around a bit more. Everyone has a first week on the job, but by and large, Tokyo's taxi drivers are fricking amazing!

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Hang on you critics, for residents of Japan know that addresses are not quite "15 Smith Street Woop Woop" which almost any fool can find. But for the uninformed the town boundary is never clearly determined, each part is divided again into "chome", "ban" and then further divided into "go", "go" being the building number. The divisions seem to have no logic about them and a place is best located by looking out for notices on telegraph poles which may tell you the chome and ban. Having found such a pole then one has to find the "go". Best to always ask a local, yes, even out of the taxi window. If you wish to get to Tokyo Station everyone knows, of course, but if it is some piddling little building stuck up a back one way street dont expect too much from a taxi driver. It is time for Japan to change it's address system. On a slightly different note - I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Glasgow whose address was given as, lets say "White" in Smith Street. 'White' was the name of the friends building and no numbers for anyone in that street so a stranger hads to wander up and down the whole length of the place until the label "White" was found. Not convenient for me nor a taxi.

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I feel safe with Japanese cab drivers. Taxi drivers in Paris, Istanbul and Barcelona are the worst. They will rob you.

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Your expectations on Japan can't be compared to another country, that is the writers first mistake. Second the address system is Japan is so complex that it is impossible for anyone to know where to go exactly.

I've been here nearly 15 years and I've never had a problem finding an address in Japan. It's a lot easier than Paris or London. The taxi drivers here are mostly useless at knowing where things are. They can't have much pride in doing their job right.

I had one mouthbreather once who didn't know how to get to the station I asked for! I wanted to get home, but knew that 99.9% of them look at you with a face like a dog that's just be shown a card trick when you give them an address, so I asked for the nearest station, and he didn't know how to get there. It wasn't even a minor one!

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The address system in japan is different from overseas but not that hard to understand. Heck, tourists I know mastered it soon.

n.wikipedia.org slash wiki slash Japanese_addressing_system

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To answer Zenny - I didn't claim that the system is hard to understand, for as you say even a tourist can master it. But that is not the issue . The issue is applying that knowledge. Haven't you ever having found 1 chome walked 100's metres to find 3 chome. And as wikipedia suggests "usually" so nothing is constant, there is little routine.

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huberts2.

Yeah, I found that but a quick look at the map or a turn to the right at a bigger intersection tends to put me right.

What I find way more confusing is drawn maps by shops and companies as they correspond to nothing most of the time(no scale, landmarks, etc).

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Daniel, you are extremely lucky you didn't find the cops waiting for you after your interview. There is no way they would take your word over the driver`s. Most taxis have cameras so he could prove that you refused to pay. Foreigners have been arrested and held for three weeks for much milder behaviour than that. The driver should have discounted the fare. He was in the wrong. But that matters not at all to the cops in a conflict between a foreigner and a Japanese. Readers, don't try that yourselves unless you have nothing to lose in Japan.

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that cab driver should write a last word for metropolis complaining that all foreign writers are morons, based on the one unpleasant encounter he had with the guy who skipped out on a fare.

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Why is this article on JT????? Quality standards, anyone???

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Zenny11 I don't think so... It hardly ever happens although I did give an example before, but I would have thought it would be quite obvious a clear dispute over payment is not a criminal offence but a civil one. You have to prove intent to deceive or defraud or to be dishonest to make it criminal so someone offering to pay at least some of the price almost immediately negates any of those possibilities. In the case of a taxi company, in most countries they would have a legal right to provide a reasonable standard of service which they did not do according to our man. That dispute would be down to the courts to decide if it got that far, but it would not be arrestable offence as there has been no offence.

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zenny "n.wikipedia.org slash wiki slash Japaneseaddressingsystem" - not to beat a dead horse mate but ....um..didnt you just say?...

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-"LOl, none of my views, sources, facts come from Wiki, long shot from your side. Of course open to see the wiki I quoted from. ;)"

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Moderators.

DON'T remove my post when I am obviously stalked by killdamesenger.

Is he a mod or does mod protocol her allow stalking?

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I believe the fella writing this commentary is in his peak "culture shock" period. We've all been there-- that period were seemingly routine things start to get on your nerves. Unfortunately, an editor should have stopped or toned down this before allowing it to get published...

Cabbies here ask "which route do you want to take" because some customers have preferred routes for commonly travels locations. I have actually seen a customer chew a cabbie a new a*hole for going a route that he deemed slower. Japanese customers are fickle and unforgiving, and this question is a response to that.

Expensive, yes. Poor service, not usually, but as for any industry in any country, the service is provided by people, who sometimes are not perfect.

I hope the commentator can take relax, have a beer and give the cabbies a bit of slack.

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??? whoa relax. I was just reading the article and posts. These are your words. Why so hostile? Just having a conversation and saw evidence that countered your earlier post. you said you would be "open" to see the wiki- I guess that is not true. sorry.

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killdamesssenger.

Big difference being giving a link for reference and being told that my views, etc are all based on wiki, etc.

I asked before what is your beef with me, etc been obvious that you got something against me since you got here, so far only ONE other poster that posted/acted like that.(mods will remove that again). Sorry, mate you are stalking me here and even at times when you should be running your Bar.

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A lot of cabbies are old guys who lost their jobs and find driving a taxi is the only work they can get. As a policeman told us when a friend got hit by a taxi while riding a bike: "you should watch out for taxis, most of the drivers are very old and don't see well"!!!

A must-read about what can happen if you get into it with a J-cabbie: google "prison in japan, taxi stippy".... incredible story!

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Zenny, I am really sorry you feel that way. I dont know how someone can stalk you on JT when you appear on every 3d line of every thread?. Its literally impossible not to come across something to disagree with you on eventually, as northlondon, tkoid2, smith and limbo in japan all have as well so why are you singling me out? How am I not supposed to post an obvious challenge to find a wiki reference and then find one on the same day??? peace mate. I mean that sincerely.

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Yeah, sure.

Funny thing is that me Limbo and a few others talk often via Pm, etc. So I post more than others, is that a crime or against the rules of the forum?

So disagreeing with some poster on some topics is bad now?

Hey, I work odd hours and am stuck at my PC nearly 24/7 due to work, you know being self-employed lets me manage my own work-time.

Again what is your beef with me and I don't buy the story that you heard about me from a patron of yours. You came on here swinging the club against me from the beginning.

Man up, if you want I can visit you in your bar(for a chat).

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let’s call it half, yes?

Cheapskate. I take cabs regularly, and all the cabbies have gotten me to where I wanted to go. Not especially talkative or friendly, but courteous enough.

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Killdamessenger.

Forgot.

How can you know how much I post if you are truly as busy as you claim, or unless you take a lot of time out to read up on my previous posts?

Either way something don't add up here on this end.

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zenny-wow, you get burned on something you say after getting called out on it, and you really have a meltdown. You have some issues mate. But I have nothing against discussing anything I say in person.

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Just read through most of the comments. Some say their experiences are mostly good. However, the posters who always post negative comments about Japan claim all taxi drivers are terrible. Typical. Let me say it again : I ride taxis at least once a month and I have lived in this country for 20 years. Not once has a taxi driver gotten lost.

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I read the news every morning and every discussion board has your posts on it. I see you take offense with alot of people- even Cleo at times. I only started reading up on your posts today by clicking on your name after you issued the discredited claim that you never refer to wikipedia. What is with your ego that you cant take it when someone calls out your mistake? That is what doesnt add up.

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either way, your meltdown speaks for itself. I wish you all the success in your internet world. I got to go to work.

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What meltdown? Clarify.

BTw most bar-owners l know here been busy for hours to get ready for opening.

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I only started reading up on your posts today by clicking on your name

Amazing, since you hit me for the same stuff(excessive postings, etc) just after you signed up and told me I spend too much time here and you been told by a patron about me.

Enjoy your work, tell me where your bar is so that I can visit(with my laptop).

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I've never had an experience like this in Tokyo, or anywhere else in Japan really, but my SOP is to get into the cab, hand the cabbie a piece of paper with the telephone number of where I want to go and that's it. No misguided attempts to direct someone who's got a perfectly good GPS, no addresses that I know are mostly useless in Japan, no describing places as "Somewhere between X and Y", or "Near X station". Just a telephone number they have to input into their GPS.

It works. Try it.

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Have to fully support the comments made in the article. Customer service in a country where "the customer is God" has long since vanished. Nowadays, it seems to be the same everywhere in Asia; "we got our salary, so who cares what the customer thinks?"

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Frungy.

Haven't used it for cabs, but does come in handy with friends, etc. My local place has a rather off-topic kanji reading, so writing the kanji can be confusing.

And the closest shop is lets say only open after hours and offers ... ahem ... dvd's.

Overall me and my friends found the local navi's superior to the overseas ones.

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off-topic = unusual. Busy with client on voice-chat.

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imo the problem is that here in japan only the japanese can be a taxi driver, this will bring us a lot of logical problems,

the normal japanese oji-san is not made to be in the service industry

imo we need the original taxi driver from india, a real taxi wallah or some guys from jamaica who give us a little bit of sunshine, man hows about some guys from russia who will sale also cheap wodka etc, etc

the japanese custom is in fact pure rassicm

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99.9% of my experiences with cabbies in Japan were positive.

The exception was a cab driver at Niigata Station who got grumpy with me because he was only getting the basic fare as my apartment was close to the station (but not so close that I wanted to walk it with luggage in the rain in a short skirt and thin blouse at midnight in December, after coming back from a gig in Tokyo).

Fortunately, the vast majority were pleasant, and some even chatty.

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"I once had a taxi driver stop literally one corner away from my home ( a corner I didn't recognize )"

Har! Seems Mr. Robson doesn't know his neighborhood very well.

I rarely take taxis, but I've had only one bad thing happen - the driver used my rope to keep the trunk lid tied down, and then failed to return it to me. ( I forgot about it, as I was busy with dealing with other people riding with me )

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imo we need the original taxi driver from india, a real taxi wallah or some guys from jamaica who give us a little bit of sunshine, man hows about some guys from russia who will sale also cheap vodka etc, etc

spucky they will also chew paan and splatter on roads....

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Har! Seems Mr. Robson doesn't know his neighborhood very well.

Maybe he was too plastered, speculating here of course.

But, yeah, you should know your own neighbourhood.

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At least they are (relatively) honest compared to Aussie cabbies. Get in a cab in Sydney and the guy will do a few loops of the city before taking you where you want to go! However, with GPS nowadays there is zero excuse for cabbies getting "lost".

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Catch a taxi in Tonai? HAHAHAHHAHAH oh these foreigners are serious..

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I've been using taxis in Tokyo all my life, and I've never had any problems, even in the days before GPS. Even when I lived in an obscure place in Asakusa.

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I've never had the problems the writer talks about but I've been passed over dozens of times. Also, I like a good rant when it's something I can relate to. Too many people say 'Oh, be nice. This is peaceful Japan. Don't make waves' while they are getting taken to the cleaners. Well, then I say BOHICA to them. I would have done the same as he did. If I ever run into you, sir, we can exchange rants and the drinks are on me.

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I dont live in Tokyo but why doesnt someone who does recommend a few reliable taxi companies to use.

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Not once in my 64 months in Japan have I ever had a less than pleasant experience in the cab. Sometimes I feel tired and hope to get a driver who isn't friendly so I don't have to chat.

I feel the above "article" paints a portrait which differs greatly from the reality which I experienced.

However, I do wish taxis would show more consideration for pedestrians.

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Well, look here, goody two-shoes: these are the idiots who sleep in their cars with the engine running, pumping exhaust needlessly into the atmosphere

What an attitude. Hates taxi drivers supposedly because they pollute, but takes cabs anyway, and then gets p*ssed if they make a mistake.

Insulting people who have taken the time to read your journalistic efforts, in the second to last paragraph, is a bit dumb, don't you think? You can bet I'll pass up your next article. 'Goody two shoes'? Pull this crap in the US and see where it lands you. Do take a few taxis back in the US and do let us know if you think they are superior. I take it it's been a while...

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Once I saw a Tokyo cabbie get infuriated when my friend from the US discarded his chewing gum in the car's ash tray without first wrapping it in paper. On a few rare occasions when drivers took me the wrong way, they either 1) turned off the meter for part of the far; or 2) offered to reduce the fare. For the most part they are conscientious and friendly. Once, one choked up when he expressed his gratitude for U.S. food aid to Japan in the wake of the Pacific War, which he said saved him from starvation. I didn't have the heart to tell him I wasn't American, so I just patted him in the shoulder...

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The general reputation of Japanese (not just Tokyo's) cabbies is courteous and efficient. Obviously not EVERY cabbie can meet those descriptions and this guy must have drawn the short straw that day. Mr. Robson is wrong in characterizing Tokyo cabbies as, "the worst of both worlds: expensive and crap."

I DO have a question regarding his commentary: If he was so quick to use his phone's mapping service this time around, why didn't he use it on the ride where he was sitting a block away from his house?

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comment 1 from asianTourist:

Automatically-opening door is installed in Japanese taxis.

The last time I saw people in Tokyo, they all had at least one hand attached to their bodies.

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Back when expense accounts were lavish and time was an issue I took a lot of cabs from the train station to the office. I never had a problem with a cabbie in Japan. Now I just use the bus. Perhaps things have changed?

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I have only had positive experiences with Tokyo cabbies. The cabbies I've encountered have been polite, friendly, competent, and helpful. My only gripe are the high fares, but that's just the reality of the biz.

Most cabbies these days are second-careerers, often after having lost their supposed life-time employment position. Cab driving is one of the few employment possibilities for a lot of middle-aged men who get downsized. It's a very difficult job and it's hard to make a decent living at it. So maybe the author should show a little compassion.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@supercub

Given that Japan is a rich country, is there any unemployment benefit provided by the government just as the western countries?

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Completely disagree with the article. I'd like to know where he gets off by saying:

... that the vast majority are such intolerable bastards.

The vast majority of taxis I've used, the taxi drivers are professional, courteous and honest. But, I do have some negative experiences - some due to poor driving skills or only the one was due to attitude. y

I'm sure we get frustrated that drivers don't seem to know where they are going. Understandable when smaller roads have no names - unlike London, building/house numbering system seems completely random. All the drivers I've met know how to get to ALL JR stations and major landmarks within Tokyo or Osaka. As for using GPS, put that down to lack of training - that is the taxi company's problem. I dare say companies don't train their employees for numerous reasons - lack of training budget being the major one.

I'd just like to know how many taxis the write has used - perhaps the vast majority of taxis in Tokyo? Somehow I don't think so.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Writer needs to get the chip off his shoulder, nothing wrong with Tokyo cabbies.

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Writer needs to get the chip off his shoulder

Exactly. Had a bad day? Guess what, we all do sometimes. Get over it.

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When I lived in Tokyo, I never had a problem. The cabbies always helped me with my luggage and was very good about finding their way. Even when I was beyond tipsy one night and took the last train in the complete opposite direction, a cabbie helped me out. The total fare was about 6000 yen but I know that it should have been much more. Also, he didn't get lost and didn't ask me for directions (as I was not able to give him them at the time) Some cabbies might look like they are going the wrong way, but due to one way streets and no turning rules, they may only be able to take a random looking route. Hopefully, Mr. Robson will genki-up and find a better cabbie next time :)

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We all know he just made a generalization.

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I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the blaring video ads in taxis. The customer should not have to tell the driver to turn these off. If I wanted blaring ads flogging the latest j-pop tart I'd watch Japanese TV.

And the complexity of addresses is no excuse. These are professional drivers. The only conceivable reason to pay 650 yen for a 6-minute cab ride is that they knew where they were going. I've had cabbies who'd never heard of major hotels, and this is in Sapporo, where the layout coudln't be easier.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Have had many experiences just like this, but many more that were much better. And yes unless going to a well known landmark they often have no idea where they're going once in the general area - however, every single time a fare reduction has been offered before having to ask. Sounds like this cabbie is just a dick that met his match. Lets hope he tries harder next time as result.

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If the cabbie can accuse Daniel of a crime be use he didn't pay the overcharge, can he accuse the cabbie of "kidnapping" in that he took him through an unasked-for location, and for longer than the normal rode would have warranted?

My experience as a cab rider has been fine, but I sure do hate sharing the streets with them as a pedestrian or cyclist. Hey cabbies, a red light means "stop", not "you have two more seconds to get through; feel free to disregard any people in your path". OK?

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From my experience. Is a polite think if the taxi driver ask you to tell the way to go to your destination, because they think you know how to go to the destination. But if you don't know usually they will tell what road they will take to make sure you okay. Usually I just said "the fast road please" and they will use GPS to check or just tell you the fast road ( sometimes must avoid traffic jam ). And another experience if the driver take wrong road, usually they will apologize and always give me a discount about the mistake. From your article I think you just really have a bad bad day and luck.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cabs are too expensive especially when the subway shut down overnight and you can get stuck in Shibuya. What is wrong is cabbies sleeping in their cabs with the motor running. Also these slackers should convert to an all Electric fleet clean up the air. There should be smaller electric cabs that seats 2 passengers for use in Ginza.. other areas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't get in a taxi anymore. In my country, taxi drivers seldom help you with the luggage either. We're used to it.

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When I read the first line, I understood that he is guilty of something. Very smoothly the author directs all the blame on others but not him. I will listen to his lamenting, if he had worked as a taxi driver in his own country and served a few foreigners. Did the author scare the taxi driver with his attitude or something. I've only had positive experiences with Tokyo cabbies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've been ripped off a few times, ignored when trying to flag a cabbie down, taken where I didn't want to go and then dropped off in the middle of nowhere (in the pouring rain no less!) but even still I've had more positive experiences than negative ones. If the author knew the address was wrong he should have told the driver the correct one! No brainer.

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Some taxi drivers are aware that gaijin may be easy targets ; be careful when you hear "Sorrry i dont speaku ingurish".

You have to be able to use a moderate Japanese level, and be steady when giving directions to the driver.

If he doesn't want to use the GPS, just get out.

The other day, I saw on my iphone that the taxi was going in the exact opposite direction of my destination. I told him. And then when we were close to arrival, I told him that we did a big "toomawari". So he stopped the counter, and asked me only half of the price...

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ha ha ha. Almost all taxi drivers the world over are swines

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Luckily, I haven't had to use taxis too often in Tokyo. Haven't had any problems, either. Himeji, on the other hand... I gave the driver the address and a map. He was so far off that even I knew we were going the wrong way, and I'd never been in town before. He knocked down the fare and helped with my bags, though.

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I recommend an ice vest for taxi drivers so they won't need to run the car's air conditioning while waiting for fares. They can keep a spare one in a cooler in the trunk and then rotate the two.

I got screwed by a taxi driver also. My drive from the Haneda to my hotel was supposed to be five minutes according to my computer printout, yet the driver to 30 minutes. I just paid without complaining, but have been secretly plotting revenge for 10 years.

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I think your quite rude, the driver did ask whats the best route, instead of using his GPS if you dont know common courtesy and xenophobia that your experiencing then go back to merry old London..

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Cab drivers dont often kill time just to rack up fairs, perhaps communicate properly even if your Japanese isnt up to scratch, write it on paper using romaji even.. use your initiative genius..

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*fares, dang typo :P anyway its good to consider driving in Japan also, dont you have an international license?

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Call the taxi complaint hotline, record his license and other information - especially if they are not polite. As for threats to go to the police - call the dare -the police can do nothing - it is a civil dispute.

Tokyo taxi drivers usually claim ignorance if you're a foreigner - even with perfect japanese. I look japanese so they always acknowledge my destination - helps to give a subway station stop or major cross streets - but as soon as they hear me use english - wham - their stupid act kicks in along with sucking all the air out of the taxi - but as long as you give instructions, they have no choice but to take the correct, shortest path - fuming all the way.

And - if you're an attractive woman - BEWARE - make sure you bring your keitai and start chatting (even if to nobody - pretend). cabbies may try to coerce a date out of you or worse as they drive you around isolated abandoned areas - such as the docks.

Truthfully - if a taxi driver tries to cheat you and threatens violence - call the police first, make sure you fill out the police report, then send everything to the taxi company AND the license bureau. Nothing will happen - but he'll have a mark against his record and you've wasted a tremendous amount of his time at the police station (as well as yours, but it's now a challenge of wills. And make sure you call his company to complain and if you're REALLY upset - write a letter.

If the taxi driver touches you - it's assault. You can file a police report for assault.

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I would say this article is fundamentally correct. I always use a landmark , i.e., store, station, intersection, etc., to guide the taxi driver for quicker results. Many of drivers by the way in Japan based on my discussions with them were laid-off from their career jobs so give them a break during their learning curve.

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having been living in Tokyo for most of 5 years I have mostly very good experiences. I remember on first arriving in Tokyo and taking a cab from Shibuya to my new home. Before we started he phoned my landlady to get my directions as I could not speak Japanese. In addition when we got to the suburb he stopped the cab to wait for her to arrive. When he stopped the meter I asked why in broken Japanese. He said I have to because you are my customer and we are waiting. It was a great start for me in Japan. On the other hand I did have one cab driver that I felt was talking me for a ride in both senses. I had been clear where I wanted to go for some reason he kept getting the location wrong. That can happen anywhere. Tokyo drivers are the best!

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Yes, taxia in Tokyo are not great in terms of being able to always find detination and driving skills, but don't think drivers are rude. For lack of English, HK is just as bad..... If Robson is so agitated by and extra 160 yen on the meter, then don't get a cab. Cheapskate!

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Btw, can foreigners become taxi drivers in Tokyo?

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