City of taxis: That is Shinjuku

City of taxis. That is Shinjuku. It has so many of them.  Apparently, there are over 35000. I’m pretty sure that is the number. Well, it’s been bandied around quite a lot.  They are a part of the nightscape. When the sun goes down, they seem to take over the streets. I don’t use them much, but I often photograph them.

All the areas around Shinjuku station have massive taxi ranks. Some extend hundreds of meters. Upon arrival, each driver takes their place in the line. They wait for those further ahead to pick up their passenger and move out. 

The process repeats itself countless times during the night. While the drivers wait during downtime, some pop out of their cabs for a quick smoke. Others catch up on their reading. More take a nap. They do various things to break the monotony or kill time.

And the passengers?  They come from all walks of life:  office workers having just finished doing overtime, part-time workers, people out for a night, and students. Go down to Kabukicho, and you’ll see many hosts, hostesses, and hospitality workers take one to get home. Not everyone wants to take a train or a bus home at night, especially after a long day or night. And many people want to go home in some comfort.

What would happen if the taxis disappeared? If they did, the Tokyo nightscape would change completely.  Shinjuku might even disappear. Of course, that would never happen, but it would change. The streets would become traffic-free.  And if that happened, then we might as well be in a different galaxy.

But that will never happen. Nobody buys cars these days and all the last trains leave the station around midnight. If there were no taxis, who would move the population?

Could you imagine that happening? Neither could I. At least not in our lifetimes. The taxis will be here forever.  They’ll still be here long after the last human is gone.

When I walk around the station at night, on the road, all I see are taxis. Yes, there are a few private vehicles, motorbikes, and buses, but they seem to be in the minority. Taxis rule the night. Shinjuku is the city of taxis.

Shinjuku is a City of Taxis photo gear:

  • Camera Body: Fujifilm X-T2
  • Lens: Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

For more Shinjuku articles, look at:

To find out more about catching a taxi in Tokyo (or Shinjuku):

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