• Kyodo


Two Japanese taxi drivers arrived to London on Thursday — in their own cab.

A Tokyo taxi driven by Takemasu Irie and his son, Takeshige, is greeted by London cabbies as they arrive Friday on Juxon Street.

Takemasa Irie, 59 and his son, Takeshige, 29, looked exhausted but jubilant as they arrived in London after driving 19,000 km from Japan and passing through 12 countries.

Their first stop was Juxon Street, reputedly the birthplace of the world’s first licensed motorized taxi.

The Iries, who left Tokyo 12 weeks ago, were greeted by a fleet of black cabs. The cabbies blared their horns to applaud the pair’s accomplishment.

Barely able to contain his tears, the senior Irie said, “I’m surprised and delighted to be greeted by London’s taxi drivers and very pleased that the challenge is over.”

Takemasa Irie said their taxi had not broken down once during the entire journey. He said the only nail-biting moment came when crossing a desert in Kazakstan as father and son were worried about what would happen to them if the car broke down.

The journey, sponsored by a Japanese television network, took them through China, Kazakstan, Russia and Continental Europe before arriving in Britain.

Takemasa Irie said the distance they covered was equivalent to one year’s mileage for an average Tokyo cabby.

Many of the London taxi drivers who turned out to greet their colleagues from Tokyo were envious of the pair and said they would like to make a similar journey.

Harold Marks, a 50-year-old London cabby, said, “I would love to return the challenge and drive from London to Tokyo — it’s every cab driver’s dream to take off on the open road.”

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