Riding through the Tokyo Streets in Style

Back to Contents of Issue: March 2003

by Bruce Rutledge

Getting around in Tokyo can be a hassle, especially when you have to change subways so many times, and you don't want to pay JPY 3,000 or so for even a short taxi ride. That's why we recommend two types of alternative transportation to spice up cross-town trips.

First, try the velotaxi (pictured below), a German creation that has been seen in Kyoto since last May and on Tokyo streets since last October. Basically, it's an aerodynamically designed bicycle-taxi -- it uses no gas and travels solely by pedal power. Fares start at JPY 300 for the first half kilometer, then go up by JPY 50 for each additional 100 meters. The velotaxis are funky, environmentally friendly and definitely eye-catching.

Once night falls, try a tour of Tokyo in one of the jazz taxis, a fleet of three Hyundai XG 300s with top-of-the-line sound systems that include a Russian-made amplifier in each car, German-made speakers and a Panasonic CD player. The cars are the brainchild of taxi driver Toshiyuki Anzai, 60, a lifelong jazz fan. Since he started his jazz taxi service a few years ago, he's driven jazz greats Chick Corea, Mulgrew Miller, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Randy Brecker, Ray Bryant and Curtis Fuller through the Tokyo streets at one time or another. The taxis run from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

So next time you have to make a trip across town but the subway won't do, give a call to Anzai (090-3527-0312) or the velotaxi people (03-5772-8114 in Tokyo) and enjoy these different ways of getting around.

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