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Thursday, 3rd March 2016
In Japan Travel News,

Kyoto trials foreigner friendly taxis

A new initiative has begun in Kyoto, which allows visitors to use taxis that have been specifically designated as foreigner-friendly.

The programme is a collaboration between the city and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), which has initially been confirmed to last a year.

If it proves successful, then it could be rolled out on a more permanent basis or even be extended to other cities.

Visitors can pick up the taxis, which were launched on Tuesday (March 1st), outside Kyoto’s railway station.

The difference between a foreigner-friendly taxi and ordinary one is that the drivers have taken courses in English and Chinese, making it easier to communicate.

In the past, some taxi drivers have been avoiding picking up tourists as they’ve worried about experiencing a language gap.

Other features of the foreigner-friendly cabs are being able to pay by credit card and have enough space to store two large suitcases.

No fewer than 23 companies with 69 taxis and 87 drivers are involved in the trial to help deal with the demand from an increased number of foreign tourists visiting Japan.

A large number of people turned out for the launch ceremony in front of the Kyoto Station earlier this week.

One attendee, who is originally from Spain, but now lives in Japan, told Japan Today: “It was troublesome when some taxi drivers would ask for my destination written in kanji characters. But with this service, even if you can’t speak Japanese, it won’t be a problem.”

Kyoto is a good place to trial the service, as the former capital of Japan is very popular with foreign tourists.

With imperial palaces, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines to explore, as well as traditional wooden houses and picturesque gardens there is plenty to enjoy in this part of the country.

Related news stories:
Koike: Japan's first female PM? (3rd September 2008)
Mayor of Kyoto outlines plans for tourism (22nd September 2014)
Kyoto named world's best city by Travel + Leisure for second consecutive year (8th July 2015)
Kyoto acclaimed as best travel destination (8th July 2014)
New drive to save Kyoto's historic narrow homes (8th December 2014)