Hello and welcome back to the Story Arc! A few days ago I decided to begin putting out a short series of articles about the various evolving mechanics in the Yakuza franchise for December 2022. Last time I covered how locker keys have changed game by game and today I’m going to cover a mechanic that you likely paid even less attention to: Taxis!
Now, every Yakuza fan knows how taxis work because you are required to use them at least once per game, but they aren’t a feature you use often. To go over the mechanic for those who have forgotten or are for some reason reading this without playing the games though; Taxis are the franchise’s fast travel feature. The mechanic is as simple as a fast travel function can be. You run up to a taxi and get a list of other taxis in the city, you can then travel to any of them and continue your adventure!
Like I said before, most Yakuza fans rarely use taxis due to a combination of Kamurocho not being that large of an open world and because walking through it yourself is just more rewarding. Why take a taxi when walking will have you encounter new substories or other rewards like locker keys?
However a certain subset of Yakuza fans have gotten great use out of taxis. That subset of course being people like me, completionists! I rarely, if ever, use taxis when playing through the main story of a Yakuza game but when I’m in the post-game, have completed all substories, and am just trying to fill out the completion list? Heck yeah I’m traveling to whichever taxi is closest to the minigame I need to play! These things were a godsend to me when I needed to 100% games like Yakuza 3 where it’s near impossible to avoid street fights.
Now that you’re all caught up on their purpose, let’s go over how the city of Kamurocho’s taxi program has evolved over the years.
The evolution of Kamurocho taxis
Just like with the locker keys we’re going to talk about Yakuza 1 and 2’s taxis at the same time here because they are identical. Taxis in the PS2 duology are at their most useless for a number of reasons. The biggest of course being that there are only three of them! If you get in a taxi there are only three places to go.
The west side of Shichifuku Street, right next to the children’s park, in the top left of the map.
The far right side of park boulevard, right next to the entrance of Purgatory in the top right of the map.
And finally one on the west side of Shouwa street at the intersection to Nakamichi street in the bottom right of the map, only a block away from the iconic gate that welcomes you into the city.
Now you may be thinking “Skeith, I don’t know street names. Can you please show me where these taxis are?” And you’d be absolutely right, I could! But the game doesn’t. When you talk to a taxi in Yakuza 1&2 you are just given a list of street names, it’s up to you to remember which is which.
I can at least tell you that these taxis have another serious flaw though: most of the city is completely uncovered by them. If you need to go somewhere in the middle of Kamurocho or anywhere on the right side of the city then walking is your only option. These taxis exist for easy travel between Purgatory and Serena, nothing more, nothing less.
Next up we’ve got the Kamurocho taxis from Yakuza 3. It seems that between the years of 2006 and 2009 the city of Kamurocho still deemed it appropriate to have only three taxis running at any given time as the taxis are the exact same as they were in the PS2 duology.
However RGG’s dev team had made some impressive improvements in the console generation jump and one of those improvements is that you now get to see where the other taxis are when selecting them! No longer will you select the wrong taxi on accident and need to talk to the taxi man again to correct your mistake!
Once 2010 came around I can only presume that the good people of Kamurocho demanded that more taxis be added to the city as the number of taxis doubled!
The taxi at the Nakamichi and Showa street intersection has been moved to the left so it’s now at the intersection of Showa and Tenkaichi, allowing for travel directly to the iconic city gate.
A new taxi has been added to the intersection of Showa Street and Pink Street, letting player finally have an easy way to the bottom right of the map.
Another new taxi was added to the very top of the hotel district. Both adding a new fast travel point between the two already in the top half of the map and creating a significantly shorter walk to where the Dragon Palace and Komaki reside.
Finally, a third new taxi was added to the Kamurocho underground parking lot. Letting players travel to this new area of the city.
All of these new taxis are more than welcome as I got great use out of all of them during my journey to 100% Yakuza 4. However there remains a singular problem with them: there is still no fast way to reach the center of Kamurocho, only the edges. Let’s now move on and see if Yakuza 5 changed the taxis any further.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first, Yakuza 5 had an entire minigame where you drive people around in taxis and even get into races against people! I will not be talking about that in this article, I am here solely to talk about how the taxis have evolved as a fast travel feature and nothing more. I am working on another article about Yakuza minigames but that won’t be done for a while.
Now as for Kamurocho’s taxis in 5 I am sad to say that the only change from Yakuza 4 is that the taxi in the underground parking lot has been removed alongside that section of the city. In fact, RGG thought these five taxis were in such perfect positions that Yakuza 0 neither added nor removed any of them as well.
That brings us to Yakuza 6, which has the most major changes to taxis we’ve seen since Yakuza 3! The number of taxis in Kamurocho has been reduced to only four. With the taxis near the hotel district and Purgatory having been completely removed. However a new taxi has been added to East Taihei Boulevard, finally creating a fast travel point in the center of the city!
The biggest change to the taxis though is in how they function. Tell me dear readers, how do taxis work in real life? You tell them your destination and they take you there! You don’t ask a taxi driver to take you to another taxi! As such, Yakuza 6 has changed taxis so they now take you to any street corner in the city! Allowing for easy access to all of Kamurocho!
You’d think things would end here, but there is one more small change made to taxis in Yakuza: Like A Dragon. As of this game you no longer need to walk to a taxi to fast travel. Now you just pull out your phone, open the taxi app, and bam! You can instantly travel to any part of Kamurocho! I’ll admit, while this is super convenient I do miss needing to walk up to and use Kamurocho taxis.
I could end the article here, but I know if I did you would all leave comments asking about taxis in other cities throughout the franchise. So let’s quickly go over all of them now!
Taxis in other Yakuza cities
First off we’ve got the most recurring non-Kamurocho city in the franchise: Sotenbori! Sotenbori first appeared in Yakuza 2 and as such when using the taxi menu you better have memorized which street is where! Sotenbori in Yakuza 2 had four taxi locations.
There were two taxis on separate sides of Sotenbori Street across the top of the map, allowing quick access to the important areas in the top left and top right respectively.
Then there are two taxis in the center of the map located on separate ends of Shoufuku Street.
The main issue with Sotenbori taxis in Yakuza 2 is that there is no taxi located in the bottom area of the city, forcing you to always need to walk down there. However that is not really a problem in Yakuza 2 specifically as very little actually happens near the bottom of Sotenbori compared to later games.
Speaking of those later games, we’ve got Yakuza 5 and Yakuza 0’s greatly expanded Sotenbori. Oddly enough, Yakuza 5 didn’t add any taxis to Sotenbori despite many more events happening near the bottom of the map than in Yakuza 2. Thankfully Yakuza 0 added a singular taxi to the bottom center of the map for quick access to that game’s cabaret club. This added taxi even stuck around for the Kiwami remake of Yakuza 2!
Next up on the list we’ve got Okinawa from Yakuza 3! Similar to Kamurocho in the same game Okinawa has only three available taxis, however this smaller number actually works fine for the city as Okinawa is significantly smaller than Kamurocho. The taxis available in Okinawa are located at:
West Ryuku Boulevard, located at the center of the map, allowing quick access to the market directly below it.
Another taxi is located at the entrance to Kitaryu Street near the top of the map, letting players quickly get to locations such as the hostess club and karaoke parlor.
Finally there is an oddly placed taxi on East Ryuku Street, only a few feet away from the taxi on the western side. This taxi’s placement is odd but I suppose it’s convenient if you’re traveling from Kitaryu Street and just want easier access to the locker keys than you would have on West Ryuku Street.
Now we’ve got the three new cities from Yakuza 5, and whew, do these places have taxis. Let’s start off with Nagasugai, since, after all, that city is home of the taxi driving minigame.
Nagasugai has 6 entire taxis you can travel to! Four of them are located around the city’s outer street and are appropriately labeled as Nagasugai East, South, North, and West. There is also an additional taxi located in the southwest of the city for easy access to the IF8 minigame as well as an additional taxi right outside of Kiryu’s taxi service job!
You may have already spotted the major problem with this city’s taxis, despite the entire outer rim of the city having points you can travel to, there are absolutely no taxis located in the central strip of the city where all the restaurants and several minigames are located. Oh my god, how did it take until Yakuza 6 for RGG to realize people want to go to the center of their cities?! This oversight makes using taxis to navigate the city a next to useless endeavor.
The next Yakuza 5 city we need to cover is Tsukimono. I mean no offense to the people who live in the real life location this city is based on, Sapporo, but I have yet to experience a video game where this city is pleasant to navigate, but that is neither here nor there! I’m only going to talk about where Yakuza 5 placed your taxis!
There are only four taxis placed around Tsukimono. One located at the very top, one located at the very bottom, and two located on separate streets to the far right and far left of the city.
Overall, the taxi placement here is better than in Nagasugai but because none of these taxis are located near any particular minigame or plot important location you are almost always in for a longer than needed walk if you intend to use taxis here.
Finally we’ve got the taxis located around the city of Kinechio, home of the underrated Shinada. Similar to Tsukimino we’ve got four entire taxis spread around this city.
Like the other cities in Yakuza 5 the taxis here are labeled as north, east, south, and west. Though honestly that label is extremely odd here as the taxis form more of a square around the city than a compass. The eastern taxi is also located in the center, not the east. It’s an odd label.
Placement wise however, these taxis are probably the best for the new cities in Yakuza 5. We’ve got one near Shinada’s safe house, one near the city’s unique lottery gimmick, and one right next to Shinada’s weapons master! The only flaw with this city’s taxis is that although the northern one is supposed to be near the batting center the walk is far too long to really call it that. All in all, good taxi placement for this city’s debut.
Next up we’ve got Yakuza 6’s second city: Onomichi! Similar to Yakuza 5’s cities, Onomichi is home to a total of four taxis.
One taxi is located all the way to the top right of the city near Ropeway Station.
Two taxis are located on opposite ends of National Route 2, also near the top of the city. These two taxi locations allow for easy access to both the western and eastern paths of the city where separate restaurants and minigames are located.
Finally there is a taxi located on East Shishido Street street, around the city’s entrance.
Overall this is some good taxi placement. My only complaint is that if you are at Kiryu’s apartment then you’ve got a long walk to any particular taxi.
Finally, we’ve got the franchise’s new recurring city: Isezaki Ijincho from Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Lost Judgment! Like I said back in the Kamurocho taxi section of this article, in LaD players are able to immediately travel to taxis via Ichiban’s phone. However, while fast travel locations in Kamurocho and Sotenbori are immediately unlocked, you must talk to each individual taxi in Ijincho for the ability to travel to that section of the city!
This is honestly a pretty genius way to both evolve the taxi mechanic from the previous games while also keeping players from immediately traveling to sections of town with powerful enemies that will destroy them! Locking off later locations in JRPGs is standard and this is a clever way of doing that.
And as Lost Judgment isn’t an RPG and wouldn’t need that, taxis aren’t locked off in that game. Allowing you to immediately travel to any street as before.
And with that folks, I am finally done talking about the evolution of taxis in the Yakuza franchise. What do you think of this minor feature? Do you enjoy how it’s changed in Like a Dragon and Lost Judgment? Would you like the franchise to go back and make you talk to taxi drivers whenever you want to fast travel? Comment and let me know here, on Twitter, or on Reddit.
If you enjoyed this article please stay tuned as throughout all of December I shall continue to analyze small features that have evolved throughout the Yakuza franchise!