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July 09, 2006

Does this really happen in Tokyo?

I almost never have problems with taxis in Japan. The drivers are usually very honest and will take you wherever you need to go with no fuss or unnecessarily long detours. This stands in stark contrast to New York, where it seems they are always trying to chisel an extra buck or two out of you.

I say usually, because tonight I got one of the dishonest ones.

I was on my way home from Shibuya to Akasaka. This is usually a simple drive - you take Roppongi Dori all the way. It is also kind of long, so I started browsing the Internet on my mobile phone to pass the time. When I looked up, we were in Omotesando, which (if you live in Tokyo, you know) is not the right way.

I asked the driver if he knew where we were going, which he said he did. Then I said that this seemed to be the very long way to go, to which he did not reply.

If you live here you already have figured out he was taking me for a ride (no pun intended). If you do not live here, it is explanation enough to tell you that instead of the straight line between where I got in and home he figured a big giant loop was better and about half again as expensive.

Needless to say I was not happy.

When we got to my building I asked him how much it would have cost if we went the direct route instead of the long way. When he started to explain, I interrupted him and asked him the same question again. I did not want any answer that did not include "X" yen (and that being substantially less than what was on the meter). He started to say something else, and again I told him I did not want to go sightseeing and that I wanted to know how much it cost to go the regular way.

He gave in. Now I am happy. Thank you Nichibei.

Posted by Kirk on July 9, 2006 11:50 PM

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