by Pa Rock
Driving on Okinawa today is not nearly as crazy as it was forty years ago. Part of the reason is the completion of a second main traffic artery - the toll road that was mentioned yesterday. The second major improvement is the huge reduction in what used to be the ubiquitous "skoshi" cabs. Those little demons were everywhere, and much like the motorcycle drivers of today, the skoshi cab drivers felt they had a right to go anywhere. More than a few times I saw one dart onto a bare stretch of sidewalk to get around stalled traffic, and it was a very common occurrence for skoshi cabs to race to the front of turn lanes and then crowd in. Those drivers literally felt that they had complete control of the rules of the road, and basically they did.
"Skoshi" is a Japanese word meaning "little."
Today there are still many cabs on the island, but percentage-wise, they are much fewer than before. Today's cab drivers operate in a much more predictable manner. Forty years ago Okinawans were just returning to Japanese control after twenty-seven years of American supervision. It appears as though the Japanese have used the intervening four decades to civilize their cab drivers!