Toshiyuki Anzai, 67, is a cabbie in central Tokyo whose love of jazz drove him to start a unique Jazz Taxi service. His 90-minute cruises pair cityscapes with the most fitting music. Anzai plays songs that match not only the view but his passengers' moods — though he is partial to jazz, he sometimes throws Deep Purple and Wagner into the mix. His car is jazzed up with powerful Soviet-era 6BQ5 Class-AB vacuum tubes set in a Japanese power amplifier, which is connected to an iPod filled with 11,000 songs. This superb sound system makes cruising Tokyo a pleasure, and nobody enjoys the ride more than Anzai, who has been on the road for over 36 years yet says he is still mesmerized by every twist and turn that appears in front of him.

If you're an expert at something, people look up to you. Driving a cab is not the most respected of professions, which bothered me a lot when I was working for a cab company. For 18 years I kept wondering how to free myself from the feeling that I was doing a low-class job. The minute I got my private-cab license in 1991, I knew I didn't want to simply take people from point A to B. What did I have that others didn't? Knowledge. I have been a jazz fan since my teens, so I really know the music. I figured that people would want to ride around with me because I am an expert at both jazz and Tokyo. This is how Jazz Taxi was born.

The same view looks and feels totally different depending on where you come from. I drove three French guys to Tsukuda, near the Sumida River in Tokyo. As they looked across the water, tears welled up in their eyes. They said they felt like they were in Paris. When I drove Americans there, I had "New York, New York" blasting, and the same thing happened: They got emotional and said they felt like they were in New York.