Thoroughbred ranch touring taxi garners wonderful reviews in Urakawa test run

Female tourist (right) using the Thoroughbred Taxi to visit a ranch with Managing Director Kida as a guide

The end of January marked the conclusion of the test run of the sightseeing taxi “Hidaka Thoroughbred Taxi” service, in which a taxi driver showed participants around areas like the light horse ranch. Central Hokkaido Hidaka region’s Urakawa Tourism Association and Nikko-Hire operated this trial service starting in November of last year. 41 groups, totally approximately 60 users, used the taxi, and positive reviews were received along the lines of, “I got to see places I cannot go on my own, and it was fun.” However, the operators were also able to assess some issues with the project, like securing ranches where touring is available. Nikko-Hire aims to officially provide this service as a commercial enterprise starting this summer, and is currently constructing a service framework.

“There are about 20 stallions here.” In late January, Nikko-Hire Managing Director Kida took a female office worker from Tomakomai on a tour of East Stud, a ranch that raises and keeps stallions. After sterilizing her shoes, she walked around the ranch land, listened to explanations about the horses including their lineage and status as stallions, and took photos of the horses she liked.

The visitor expressed her satisfaction, “I got to find out things like the sire of a horse I know is here, and it was very interesting.” She spoke of her hopes for the future of this service, “I think it would be great to have someone take you to the places you personally want to go.”

Many ranches avoid giving tours due to visitors who do not follow rules, and do things like scaring the horses. But Nikko-Hire aims to build relationships with ranches by thoroughly enforcing their rules in an effort to utilize ranches as a resource for tourism.

To discover what kinds of obstacles may exist while also building up a track record of proven successes, Kida decided to handle the driving on his own first. He created two-to-three-hour courses based on asking participants about their preferences among places like production ranches, grazing facilities for discharged racehorse stars, retirement ranches for retired racehorses, horse training facilities, and town horse riding parks. He also added the option of seeing the inside of a horse trailer, an experience normally not available to most people.

According to Kida, this test run clarified the issues that need resolving in order to increase repeat users and establish this as an independent enterprise, such as the number of ranches in which touring is available, the allotment of time for guiding and taking photos, and the need for activity options. In the debriefing session on the test held on February 22 by the Urakawa Tourism Association, it was pointed out that user acquisition linked with options like workations, skill improvement for drivers, and clarification of merits for ranches to participate are necessary.

Nikko-Hire created a “Sightseeing Taxi Basic Skill Test” for driver education. In anticipation of the eventual commercialization of this enterprise, they are creating an order-made taxi roof-light with a horse related design to attach to the top of their taxies. Kida stresses, “I think this is an enterprise that has a lot of growth potential.” He is continuing to issue requests to ranches for participation and organizing elements such as training for drivers who can serve as guides and pricing.


Urakawa Tourism Association