Japanese taxis now being driven by ninja; bodyguards armed with concealed water pistols

In Japan, the rail network is efficient enough that you really have to have a compelling reason to take a taxi over a train, so when does that choice make sense? If youre headed to a destination thats far away from the nearest station, obviously. Or if youre travelling in a large group, splitting the cost of a cab can be more economical than each person buying a train ticket. Oh, and if you want a ninja to assist you in getting from Point A to Point B, once again, a taxi is the way to go, provided its operated by Sanwa Kotsu.

Yes, the Yokohama-based taxi company is back again with a new set of themed cabs, one of which is the Ninja Taxi. While the vehicle itself is standard-spec, your driver will be dressed head to toe in the garb of Japans mythical shadow warriors, and will also pepper his speech with period appropriate classical Japanese vocabulary, making the ride a treat for history buffs and linguistics fans alike.

On the other hand, if you prefer your personal protector to project a more contemporary, yet no less capable, aura, Sanwa is also offering what it calls an “SP-style Taxi.”


In Japanese, “SP” is used as an abbreviation for “security police,” and refers to the security details that accompany high-ranking politicians and other VIPs on their way to and from meetings with other power brokers. The SP-style taxi driver, appropriately, is armed at all times, as underneath his suit is a shoulder holster with a concealed pistol. Granted its a water pistol, but should a squirt gun battle break out on the way to your destination, youll be in good hands (plus youll get to feel a little like the emperor of Japan).

Both services launched on June 11, just in time for the start of the summer travel season, and serve as successors to Sanwas previous kabuki and horseback archery-themed taxis. However, even Sanwa isnt quite playful enough to convert its entire fleet into ninja and SP cabs, so youll want to contact the company and request a pickup in one of the special taxis, which you can do through its website or with the help of your hotels front desk staff.

Related: Sanwa Kotsu English website

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