Everything you need to know to take a taxi in Japan

By Tao
Reading Time: 4 minutes
People taking a taxi at Beppu station.

Ever missed the last train after a party and had to grab a taxi to get home? Knowing how to take a taxi in Japan can be beneficial when going somewhere outside the public transportation network, or during a time when no other alternatives are available.

In this article, we will introduce how to take a taxi in Japan, where to get one, how much they generally cost, as well as some helpful apps and phrases for taking a taxi. Read on if you want to learn more! 

Black taxi at a taxi stand for people to take a taxi in Japan.

How to find a taxi

Finding a way to take a taxi in Japan isn’t too hard, especially if you are in a city. Below are some ways of finding a taxi in Japan.

Taxi Stands

One of the easiest ways to take a taxi in Japan is to look for designated taxi stands. These can be found at major train stations, shopping centers, and tourist attractions. These stands are usually marked with signs that say “TAXI” or “タクシー” in Japanese. When you arrive at a taxi stand, simply do as the Japanese do, stand in line and wait for the next available taxi.

On the street

If you’re not near a taxi stand, you can also hail a taxi on the street by raising your hand. Taxis in Japan have a sign on their roof that says “空車” (kūsha), which means “available” in Japanese. When you see a taxi with this sign, simply wave your hand to signal the driver that you want to ride.

Booking by phone

If you are in the countryside or somewhere far away from public transport, another option is to book a taxi in advance by phone. Most taxi companies in Japan have English-speaking operators available, so you can easily make a reservation even if you don’t speak Japanese. Keep in mind that booking a taxi in advance may be more expensive than hailing one on the street.

Using Taxi Apps

You can also download one of the popular apps to take a taxi in Japan. Some of the most popular ones include Japan Taxi, Uber, and DiDi. These apps allow you to easily hail a taxi and track its arrival in real time. Simply download the app from either google play or apple store, create an account, enter your destination, and wait for a taxi to arrive.

Do note however that ride-sharing apps like Uber aren’t as common in Japan as they are in some other countries, so your best bet may be to use the Japan Taxi app.

How much does it cost to take a taxi in Japan? 

Just like in most countries, to take a taxi in Japan fares can be quite expensive compared to other forms of transportation. If we forget about private companies such as Uber for a moment, the exact cost varies depending on a number of factors. Some factors are:

Time of day – a late night surcharge of around 20% is added between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Fares – Any highway fares incurred are paid by the rider
Distance traveled – generally costs 400-750 yen for the first one or two kilometers, and after that an additional 80-100 yen per 200-400 meters or 1 minute of waiting time. This depends on the taxi company and location.

Note that there are sometimes fixed prices on certain popular routes such as to and from airports.

Regarding payments, nowadays it is often possible to pay with a credit card, and sometimes even with an IC-card such as SUICA or PASMO. However, if you are in Okinawa, Hokkaido, or a rural area it is suggested to have cash ready as it may not be possible to pay with other means. If you pay in cash, avoid paying with large bills if possible. 

Oh, and tipping the taxi driver is not a thing in Japan!

A taxi driving under cherry blossom trees in Japan

Etiquette and essential phrases for riding a taxi in Japan

First of all, let’s quickly make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to etiquette when you take a taxi in Japan. The first thing to remember is that you are not supposed to open or close the door by yourself. Leave this to the taxi driver. Also, make sure to stand on the correct side of the road when hailing a taxi!

Phrases commonly used when you take a taxi in Japan:

〇〇ni ikitain desu ga.
I want to go to 〇〇.

Dore gurai kakarimasu ka.
How long will it take?

〇〇made wa ikura desu ka.
How much does it cost to go to 〇〇?

If you have the address written on a piece of paper or on your phone, you can show it and say:
Kono jūsho made onegaishimasu.
Take me to this address, please.

Koko (made) de daijо̄bu desu.
You can stop here.

Kurejitto-kādo de haraemasu ka.
Can I pay with a credit card?

Alternatives to riding a taxi in Japan

If you are over 18 years old, and either have a Japanese driver’s license or an International Driving Permit (IDP) you can also rent a car in Japan. Renting a car is a great way if you want to tailor your own trip. It can also be downright more affordable than traveling with, for example, the bullet train (新幹線, shinkansen) if you travel with friends and share the cost. 

The rates are typically around 5000 yen for a subcompact car, 7500 yen for a compact car, 10.000 yen for a regular car, and 20.000 yen for a van. You also have to pay highway fares and gasoline costs!

If renting a car isn’t an option, the best alternative may be to simply take public transport. Japan has one of the largest and best public transport networks in the world, and it is really convenient to use! Read more on how to travel by train in Japan here.

We hope this article is helpful for the next time you need to take a taxi in Japan!

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