It's impossible for Ichiro Kawanabe to order up an Uber in Japan. The ride-hailing company has banned him from having an account.

That's not a problem, though, because he rarely has trouble getting around; Kawanabe runs Nihon Kotsu Co., Tokyo's biggest taxi company.

Visitors to the archipelago know that hailing a cab here is a unique experience. Taxis are easy to find (when it's not raining) and usually offer impeccable service, from automated doors to glove-wearing drivers eager to get passengers to their destination.