Kyoto is a city that is visited by a lot of tourists from all over the world throughout the year. Did you know there is now a “Foreign Friendly Taxi” service available to foreign tourists visiting the city?
1. What is Foreign Friendly Taxi?
The Foreign Friendly Taxi is a taxi service prioritizing foreigners visiting Japan that was created in cooperation with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism (MLIT), the local government of Kyoto, and the city’s taxi industry. The first dedicated taxi stands can be found in front of Kyoto Station.
The Foreign Friendly Taxi, which debuted March 2016, is a convenient service that was launched in support of tourism in Kyoto. (*Fares are similar to the fares of regular taxis wherein there is a base fare and additional charges depending on distance.)
The service was targeted to run until March 31, 2017 on a trial basis, but it earned excellent reviews based on a survey of users, so it is now scheduled to enter into full-fledged operation on April 1, 2017. The sponsors of this service aim to establish this taxi service as a new service for foreigners visiting Japan.
*This taxi service prioritizes foreigners in principle, but Japanese passengers who are carrying suitcases, using a wheelchair or stroller, or are pregnant may also ride in these taxis.
*The accredited vehicles in this service have a special taxi light, magnet and sticker
*Photo of the magnet attached to the accredited vehicles
2. What kind of service does it offer?
First of all, the taxis in this service are driven only by accredited drivers who have gone through foreign language and hospitality training. These drivers carry a special driver’s ID and wear an armband, and will be able to guide their passengers to their destination. Foreigners who worry about the language barrier when they visit Japan will surely find it a relief to be able to communicate properly with their drivers.
Another convenient point about this service is that passengers can pay their fare using a credit card (*1) and transport-related IC cards (*2). They can even use Kitaca, Hayakaken, and various other types of IC cards that are in circulation in major areas such as Hokkaido or Kyushu.
The cars available in this service are passenger cars that can carry two or more suitcases and other large packages, wagons, and universal-design vehicles. You can choose to ride in any car you fancy without any extra charges.
(*1)Master Card and Visa
(*2) Payment can be made using nine types of cards: ICOCA, Kitaca, Suica, PASMO, TOICA, manaca, SUGOCA, nimoca, and Hayakaken
*Photo of the armband worn by accredited drivers
3. Where can you find this kind of taxi?
There are two dedicated stands for the Foreign Friendly Taxi Service located in front of Kyoto Station.
The first stand is the Karasuma Gate Stand that is located on the right hand side upon exiting JR Kyoto Station's central exit. It is open from 9:00 am until 11:00 pm.
The second stand is the Hachijo Gate Stand that can be found on the right side outside of the Shinkansen Hachijo exit in front of JR Kyoto Station. Here, there are only two kinds of vehicles available, wagons and universal-design vehicles. This stand is open 24 hours a day.
4. Tourist sites in Kyoto that can be visited in a Foreign Friendly Taxi
If you feel like going to the famous tourist destinations within the city of Kyoto using the Foreign Friendly Taxi, then note that it will take an average of 20-30 minutes to get to many of those sites from the taxi stand (may take longer in case of traffic or other factors). Kyoto is a relatively compact area, so if you travel efficiently, you can see a lot of famous spots in a single day.
For example, Arashiyama, which is famous for its cherry blossoms in spring and autumn foliage. This area is a popular spot that houses various temples, souvenir shops, and restaurants.
Within the Arashiyama area, the 155m-long Togetsukyo Bridge over Katsura River is a famous landmark. With its graceful form, contrast against the mountains on the backdrop, and the gorgeous scenery from the top of the bridge, it's a must-see when you tour the Arashiyama area.
Aside from the above, the approximately 100m-long bamboo grove near the popular Tenryu-ji Temple north of Togetsukyo is also a recommended spot. It has been featured in many magazines, TV shows, and other media. This famous site will let you enjoy a charming walk while gazing at a line of long, straight, and beautiful bamboo trees.
Kyoto Media Support Center
Kyoto Media Support Center
If you are ever in the popular tourist city of Kyoto, you can now go around the sights with the help of the convenient Foreign Friendly Taxi.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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