Shinjuku is a city of taxis, especially after sunset. There are so many. Don’t quote me on this number, but apparently, over 35000 are in the city. I don’t use them a lot, but I often photograph them. They are a part of the nightscape.
All the areas around Shinjuku station have massive taxi ranks, some extending hundreds of meters. Each driver takes their place in the line and then waits for another further ahead to pick up their passenger and move out. It’s never ending. The process repeats itself countless times during the night. And while everyone waits, during downtime, some drivers will pop out of their cab for a quick smoke. Others catch up on their reading while others take a short nap.
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 all the 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. Most people want to go home in a modicum of style, at least.
What would happen if the taxis disappeared? If they did, the Tokyo nightscape would change completely. Shinjuku might even disappear. Well, that’s not true, 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? I don’t think so either. 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 on the road. 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.
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