Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taxi use in Okinawa - Expensive but Convenient in a Pinch

Now that we’ve talked about using the monorail system let’s talk about getting to other areas of the island both in Naha and everywhere else. Probably the thing that struck me the most in regards to transportation while I was in Okinawa was the sheer number of taxi’s there are on the island. One of the primary industries on the island is tourism and being a service oriented economy there’s plenty of need for them.

Note the round red sign in the front window indicating the cab is vacant
Taxi cabs are easy to find just about anywhere on Okinawa. No matter where you are if you make your way to the main thoroughfare in the area, wave your hand in the air when you see a taxi approach. Look in the front window of the taxi on the passenger’s side and you will see a light up sign with some Japanese Kanji on it. If the taxi is empty the sign will be lit up in red. If the sign is green it means the taxi already has a passenger and is unavailable. When a taxi does pull over to pick you up it’s important to know that when entering or exiting a taxi cab anywhere in Japan, the rear left passenger door is automatic and controlled by the driver. The other important thing to know is recently all Okinawan Taxi’s became non-smoking.

The Left rear door is controlled by the driver. It opens and closes automatically.
Some taxi cab companies have set rates to resort hotels from Naha Airport and other main destinations. Pre-booking for these prices is necessary and can be done through most travel agents in Japan or by calling the taxi cab company if you or someone you know speaks Japanese. Many taxi cab companies on Okinawa also have sightseeing tour packages. This involves renting the services of the taxi on an hourly basis and being driven around to the sights of the island. The standard rate for this service is around 3,000 per hour; however for larger blocks of time it is common to negotiate the price. There are a few companies that operate with English speaking taxi cab drivers in Okinawa.

If you’re going to choose to use a taxi be aware that it isn’t going to be cheap. The basic fare for just getting in the door of a small sized taxi cab is 500 yen for the first 1.8km (1.1 miles). Then the meter will increase at 60 yen for each additional 359 meters (quarter mile). It adds up quickly and it is common to spend as much as $20 on the average cab ride. There are advantages to using a taxi sometimes though because they will take you to exactly where you need to go and not just to the general vicinity.

If you’ll be traveling with other people it may not be such an impact on your wallet when using a taxi in Okinawa. The truth of the matter is you can afford a taxi ride if you are willing to plan ahead and carpool with a few of your friends. A taxi ride can be an affordable, relaxing convenience if shared between yourself and a few friends. There is no need to miss many of the events being held on island and, more importantly, there’s no need to drink and drive. Don't let your transportation woes force you to miss some of the best that Okinawa has to offer.

I suppose a few of you out there may be planning to partake in some Awamori or Orion beer after attending some of the events. If you arrived at your drinking establishment by car and suddenly realize that Awamori is a bit stronger spirit than you expected then there is an important service that I should make you aware of. It’s called Daiko, and it’s a safe way to get you and your car home when you’re too tired to drive or have had a few too many alcoholic beverages.

How it works is when a customer calls to request the service, two drivers and a taxi will be dispatched to the location requested. One driver will provide the customer with a ride and the other driver will drive the customer’s car to the final destination. If an individual uses a Daiko service they will be required to ride in the taxi, verses their own car due to insurance reasons. Here is a video that covers what Daiko service is all about.

In Okinawa there are a few taxi companies you can call that speak English. These companies will come to you if you give them a ring. Taxi Company Okito has been at work training its drivers in English conversation to raise their level of service for English-speaking customers. This eliminates much of the difficulty of trying to explain your destination to drivers who cannot speak English.
Note the Authorized on Base sign on this Taxi
Also, if you are commuting to or from a military base, please make sure that your cab has a written sign on the side that reads "Authorized on Base." The following taxi companies provide pick-up services on Okinawa and have taxis that are authorized to go on military bases.

Okito Taxi   (0120) 21-5005 English Available (Toll Free)

                     (098) 946-5005 English Available

Meiho Taxi (098) 937-2467 English Available

Sanyo Taxi (098) 936-7027 English Not Available

Futaba Taxi (098) 898-2028 English Not Available

Toho Taxi (098) 936-6393 English Not Available

Higashi Taxi & Co. Naha: 2682604


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