Daikou (代行サービス)

In Japan, drinking is very popular. It is an essential part of most evening events, and even work parties (enkai 宴会). However, there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving. If you drive after even 1 drink you could find yourself with a ticket for thousands of dollars, possibly jail time, and you will possibly lose your job (especially if you are a government employee). So, what can you do?

There are several options. One is to take the train, but Japanese trains stop running about 12:00 AM, sometimes earlier, so this is often not a viable option unless you “party” all night and take the first train home in the morning (at about 5:00 AM). The other option is to take a taxi, but it costs a lot and you need to take the taxi both there and back (or take the train there and taxi back).

If you want to drive, but also want to drink, there is a great service avaible in Japan called daikou, or daikou service (代行サービス). “Daikou” means “(n,vs) acting as agent”, and this service is essentially a proxy service where a company does something for you. In this case, they come in a small daikou taxi. One person gets out and takes your car keys. They then drive you home in your own car! The daikou taxi follows. When you get home, you pay them about the same as a taxi fare and they get back into the daikou taxi and drive away. With a service like that, there is little reason for anyone to need to drive after drinking in Japan.

The other morning we were having a rare lay-in on the weekend, when at about 7 or 8 AM we heard loud honking outside. We drifted back to sleep, but it reminded me of something that happened shortly before we moved out of our last apartment.

In was the middle of the night. I don’t remember if it was a weekend or a weekday, but we were aroused from sound sleep by a loud and persistent honking. We shut our eyes, pulled the covers over our heads, and hoped it would stop. But it didn’t.

When my husband finally had enough, he went outside to find out what was going on. I was worried about some kind of fight; who knew what kind of person honks their horn that loudly at 3:00 AM? I needn’t have worried. Our neighbor in the apartment block across the street had been out drinking. He had ordered daikou to take him home, but rather than park his car for him, they had stopped it at the end of the long, difficult to navigate parking lot, returned his keys and left.

In his extremely drunken state, he was trying to park his car, and couldn’t. He was a bit disoriented and thought that someone had parked in his space, which they hadn’t. He was honking to get the attention of the person who he thought had parked in his space. This being Japan, no one went out to see what was going on while he honked and honked for 30 minutes.

My husband went and talked with him and convinced the guy to let him park his car. My husband parked the guy’s car, the guy thanked him profusely and stumbled off to bed. I have no doubt that the next day he felt incredibly ashamed and embarrassed for disrupting so many people (an even worse thing to do when in Japan as compared to the States). We then went back to sleep.

But the main question I have is: why didn’t the daikou driver park his car for him as they usually do?

5 Responses to “Daikou (代行サービス)”
  1. Anh says:

    Katie was just telling me about a service like that in america. But the guy puts on a tuxedo and rides a collapsible scooter that he uses after he drives you home in your car. It’s brilliant because you don’t have to worry about getting your car in the morning!

    Maybe the guy didn’t pay the full fare or was being difficult and didn’t tip or something?

  2. Bahia says:


    It’s possible that he couldn’t pay the full fare, though unlikely. Also, no tipping in Japan! That’s something I will need to get used to doing again when we move back…

  3. Asa says:

    We were just talking about the potential market for such a service at work.

  4. bahia says:

    I just found out that they have something like this in Fort Lauderdale.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] in the USA Every since I lived in Japan I thought daikou (a service where a company sends someone to drive your own car home with you in it) was a great thing and I wondered why they didn’t do it in the […]

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