Translated by Jelena Kitamura
How To Take A Taxi In Japan
Although taking a taxi costs more than using other means of transport, it is useful when you don't have much time or have too much baggage to carry to your hotel. Today, we will tell you how to ride a taxi and introduce apps that could come in handy.
Written by MATCHA
Taxis Provide True Japanese Hospitality
If this is your first time using a taxi in Japan, you might be pleasantly surprised. The first things that’ll you notice are the snow-white gloves on the driver’s hands, the cleanliness of the taxi itself, and the doors that open automatically. And of course, the drivers are very polite too! The price is fixed as well, so there is no fear of getting ripped off or fooled when it comes to the fee.
The prices vary depending on the part of the country, and when compared with fees for other means of transport, you will notice they are significantly more expensive. Still, without doubt, it is the most efficient transportation means when you’re troubled with your excess baggage and you need to go to the hotel from a station, or when in hurry.
In this article, you will find out how to use a taxi, the manners and the payment method, and which apps are useful for finding a taxi in Japan.
How to Get a Taxi
1. Find Yourself One
You can look for taxis in the vicinity of a station or some hotel, where they usually wait for the customers in need. Of course, you can always stop one on the street by using the well-known method of waving at the taxi approaching while standing on the roadside.
The vehicles whose light on top of them is on are available for use, and those whose light is off are already with passengers in them. Just look for the ones that are lit up and you’re good to go.
2. Get in the Taxi
The doors of the back seat will open automatically for you to hop in.
If you are carrying some heave or bulky baggage, ask the chauffeur to open the trunk for you to put it in.
3. Tell the Driver Your Destination
The taxi drivers in Japan are truly polite, but not all of them are able to understand or speak English. That is why you might have to explain the destination by using the guidebooks, or you can even write the name of the place you want to visit in Japanese in advance. Also, we suggest keeping your seat belt on for your own safety.
4. Want to Make a Quick Stop on the Road?
In case you want to make a quick stop to the convenience store or to go the toilet while traveling by taxi, just feel free to ask your driver to make a little break – they will make a stop at the closest location according to your needs. However, bear in mind that waiting for you to take care of your matters will also be charged.
5. The Payment Process
Upon arriving at the destination, prepare the amount of money you can see displayed on the taximeter. You can rest assured that the amount displayed is valid as there are no “false” or incorrect taximeters in Japan. You should also keep in mind that in Japan, there is no need to tip the driver.
In Tokyo (the 23 districts, Musashino, Mitaka), the taxi fares are as follows – the first 1 kilometer is charged 410 yen, and every other 237 meter distance is charged 80 yen. You can check the starting and the fare per kilometer from the lists displayed on the doors of the back seat and at other places in the vehicle.
The fare is charged 20% more the usual price in the late at night and early in the morning (22:00-5:00).
Although almost all taxis offer the possibility to pay with your credit card or electronic money, there are some that don’t. Don’t forget to look for a sticker with this information written on it stuck somewhere on the back-seat windows after you’ve entered the vehicle.
6. Leave the Taxi after Paying the Fare
Pay close attention not to forget something in the taxi before you get out. In case you did leave something in the taxi, you can check the company’s name and phone number on the receipt you got from the driver after the drive, so make sure to take the receipt each time you use the taxi.
You can even try out your Japanese skills and greet the driver with a simple “arigatou” (thank you) on your way out – it is sure to show your gratitude for a pleasant ride.
Use the App to Get Yourself a Taxi in Japan, too!
If there are no taxis in your sight, and you are unable to get one on the spot, you can always make a phone call to a taxi company and get one to reach you. However, as most of the customers’ centers in those taxi companies only take calls in Japanese, it might be difficult for foreigners to use this service.
Luckily, you can make use of the application that allows you to get a taxi easier. All you need is your smartphone and the taxi will be ready in no time.
If You Chose the Convenient and Comfortable Uber
Uber is an application providing with taxi services, which you can download on your smartphone. Just call your designated chauffeur to come meet you to your current location (it has to be within the service area, and after you’ve finished with the registration process), and tell him (or her) your preferred destination.
The payment is done only with a credit card, so you can use the service without having to pay in cash. It is possible to use Uber service in Tokyo, as well, as of 2018.
The prices vary depending on the type of a vehicle you will be using, but the price range per kilometer is usually between 309 and 329 yen. As the final fare depends on the starting fee, the time necessary for the arrival at the destination, and other conditions, it would be easier and wiser to get a fare estimate on the official website beforehand.
Finally, as all of the available vehicles are of great quality and rank, it goes without saying that it is a perfect choice for anyone who fancies a comfortable and pleasant ride to the designated location.
If You Chose the Useful LINE TAXI
LINE TAXI (Japanese) is a taxi service-providing program that uses the platform of the messenger application LINE, mainly used in Asia.
Another option is to use the LINE application to receive taxi services without much hassle. The app allows you to check the time required for the vehicle to reach your location, so it is truly an efficient method of using this service according to your schedule.
When it comes to the charging system, other than the usual fee per kilometer (or meter), there are additional fees for each of the taxi companies to reach your current location. The payment is done via LINE Pay option only, and there are no cash payments after you’ve used the taxi. It is one of taxi services that are widely used throughout the country, so give it a try next time you’re in need for useful and quick transportation means.
Have a Comfortable Trip Using the Right Transportation Means!
There are situations when one has to turn to rent-a-car or taxi services, especially in the areas other than Tokyo, as the transportation means are not as developed there as they are in the city.
In order to have the most enjoyable journey possible, we suggest you compare a few means of transport and choose the one that suits your itinerary the most.
*This article is the rewritten version of the original published on February 11th, 2014.