10 tips to take a taxi in Japan
Taxis are quite expensive in Japan but they are very useful if you missed the last train/bus or if you carry heavy luggage.
Lucky you, we give you here 10 tips to take a taxi in Japan!
1. Recognize a taxi!
In Japanese, Taxi is “タクシー” [takushi].
There are more than 260 000 taxis in the Japanese archipelago and above 35 000 in Tokyo from 330 taxi companies. Taxis are recognized by a neon sign on the roof and the cars are usually yellow or black.
2. Easily find one!
There are 4 ways to find a cab :
- Find a taxi station : usually they are close to the train and metro stations.
- Hail a cab : it’s easy to find a taxi in Japan and particularly in big cities.
- Ask someone who speaks Japanese to call one for you:
"Please call a taxi" : [Takushii wo yonde kudasai]
3. Vacant taxi vs occupied taxi
To recognize a vacant taxi, you have to look at the front window :
- A vacant taxi displays the sign 空車 [kuusha] which means "empty car" in red.
- An occupied taxi displays the sign 賃走 [chinso] which means "running a fare" in green.
4. Taxi drivers do not speak English
Unfortunately, most Japanese taxi drivers do not speak English so it is useful if you can show them the address of your destination in Japanese or point it out on a map.
Otherwise here is a short list of sentences to help you communicate with them.
“I want to go …” : [… Onegaishimasu]
If you show them an address, you can say : [koko e itte kudasai]
“Turn right here, please” : [Koko de migi ni magatte kudasai]
“Turn left here, please” : [Koko de hidari ni magatte kudasai]
“Go straight, please” : [Massugu itte kudasai]
“It's close to …” : [ … no tonari ni arimasu]
“I want to stop here” : [Koko de tomate kudasai]
"Could you wait here for a minute?" : [Koko de chotto matte ite kudasai]
“How much is it ?” : [Ikkura desuka ?]
"Please give me a receipt" : [Ryoushuu-sho wo kudasai]
5. Door opens automatically!
The taxi's door opens and closes automatically, don't do it yourself! Indeed, the driver has a button at the front to open and close it. No need to slam it when you leave!
6. Clean and polite
One of the things, you will appreciate the most is the cleanliness of the taxis and the politeness of the drivers. Taxi drivers take very good care of the interior of their vehicle even though they are not always new. The drivers are required to wear a suit, white gloves and even a cap sometimes. You will always find a white fabric on the head supports, information brochures and sometimes a television to entertain you during your journey. Also the taxi drivers are accommodating so if you are too hot ("atsui") or too cold ("samui") in the taxi, do not hesitate to inform them to change the temperature.
Japanese Taxis are pricey and they are not negotiable. Taxi fares vary greatly from one city to another and it can be quite expensive especially in big cities. For example, in Tokyo, the starting fare is 410¥. It is the price for the first 2km. Then, the rate increases in increments of 90¥ every 280 meters. Also from 10 pm to 5 am, a surcharge of 30% is applied to the fare. And if you book a taxi to pick you up over the phone, you will be charged about 400¥ extra.
You can also estimate the price of your ride with the following website : Taxi-auto-fare.
Tipping is not customary in Japan and the same applies for the taxi drivers. They do not expect it and will most likely refuse it if you do.
8. Can I pay with cash or with my card?
It’s always easier to pay cash in Japan. However, most taxis accept credit cards in Tokyo but you should know that some companies require a minimum fare of 5 000¥. So we would advise you to ask your driver ahead of time or to have cash with you. Another solution is to pay with your Passmo and Suita cards (public transportation card).
9. Lost something in the taxi?
You lost your phone or wallet in the taxi? Do not worry! Japan is one the safest countries in the world so it will not be stolen and you will most likely get it back. How? Call the number written on your receipt given by the driver and make an appointment with him to pick up your belongings.
If it is complicated for you two to meet up, you can go and pick up your things at the company's headquarter. In Tokyo for example, they are often located in the outskirts of the city.
In any case do not worry, the taxi company will take care of your belongings, you can trust them. For example, the last time I forgot my phone in a taxi they even charged the battery!
10. And Uber?
Uber is quite new in Japan. It’s attractive because it’s cheaper : you pay 309¥ per km, but you have to pay a minimum fare of 823¥. So it is particularly interesting if you need a long drive, to the airport for example.