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Riding Taxis in Japan: The 6 Best Apps to Grab a Cab

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Installing a taxi-hailing app for Japan makes it easier to find a cab when you need one. Read to learn about the six best taxi-hailing apps in Japan such as GO Taxi, Uber, and DiDi with details on areas of service, language support, and payment methods.

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Taxi-Hailing Apps in Japan

Taxi

Photo by Pixta

Major cities in Japan such as Tokyo and Osaka have an efficient public transportation network, but the same cannot be said for rural areas. While hailing a cab is one solution, taxi services may not be readily available in certain regions. In addition, the driver may only speak Japanese.

For these types of situations, using a smartphone taxi-hailing app is highly recommended. These apps allow users to find a vacant taxi, have the vehicle pick them up, specify the destination, and make payments via the mobile device.

The Best 6 Taxi Apps in Japan

1. GO Taxi App: The Most Popular in Japan

Riding Taxis in Japan: The 5 Best Apps to Grab a Cab

Picture courtesy of GO

The GO Taxi App is one of the most popular taxi-hailing apps in Japan, with more than 1.5 downloads as of August 2023.

Its best feature is that it can be used in 44 prefectures in Japan (*as of August 2023). Moreover, you can specify the location where you take the taxi and where you get off directly on the digital map. Unfortunately, this app is currently available in Japanese only.

Registration is easy. After downloading the app, you enter the required information, such as your name and e-mail address. By registering your credit card, you'll be able to make online payments easily.(After November 2023, overseas phone numbers and credit card information will be accepted for registration)

By selecting the AI Reservation option, you can find the nearest available taxi near you and get it no longer than 15 minutes (*this feature cannot be used in some areas). You can also schedule when to have the taxi waiting for you, such as "in an hour" or "in two hours."

Moreover, since you can specify the location where you get off, the payment can be made beforehand while in the car! This means you can get off right away. You can also get a receipt issued by the app.

Official Site: GO Taxi App (Japanese / smartphone only)

Languages Japanese, English
How to Pay Online (*) / In-Vehicle Payment

*The online payment can be made in taxis that have a tablet with the GO app installed. Please note that some taxis may not have this feature.

2. DiDi: Available in All Major Regions

DiDi

Picture courtesy of DiDi

DiDi is an app from China that launched its service in Japan in 2018. It serves Tokyo, the Kansai and Kyushu regions, and Hokkaido. DiDi is available in most of the areas in Wakayama and Shiga prefectures, too. For further information, please check the official website (Japanese).

After downloading the app, enter your name, telephone number, and email address. Additional information is required for making online payments.
Once you choose your destination and pick-up spot from the map, the app will search the area for a vacant taxi.

Official Site: https://didimobility.co.jp/service/user/ (Japanese Site)

Languages (*1) Japanese/English/Spanish
How to Pay Online (*2)/In-Vehicle Payment

*1: A Chinese version of this app is also available for download.
*2: Credit cards, debit cards, and PayPay can be used for online payment.

3. Grab: Southeast Asia's Top Ride-Hailing App

Grab

Picture courtesy of Grab

A company based in Singapore, Grab offers ride-hailing services mainly in countries throughout Southeast Asia. In 2019, the multinational company partnered with JapanTaxi, which allows Grab users to hail a cab in Japan. As of 2019, the app supports Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo, Nagoya, and Okinawa.

Download the app and create an account by registering a telephone number and either your Google or Facebook ID. Enter your credit card information to complete the online application. A taxi will be dispatched after you choose the pick-up point, destination, and method of payment.

Official Site: https://grab.com/

Languages Indonesian/Cambodian/Thai/Burmese/Vietnamese/Malay/Chinese (simplified)/English
How to Pay Online payment

4. Fulcul: Easy-to-Use App With No Registration Needed

Fulcul

Picture courtesy of Fulcul

Fulcul is an taxi-hailing app that does not require an account and can be used immediately after downloading. Simply open the app and shake your smartphone to alert vacant taxis in the area. Another positive feature is no pick-up fees. Please note that the search takes time if there are no taxis nearby.

The app serves the 23 wards (excluding some areas) in Tokyo, Mitaka City (where the Ghibli Museum is located), and Musashino City. You can search for vacant taxis by checking the map on your smartphone screen. Touch the button, or shake your smartphone, for the app to send out your current location. Don't forget to flag down the approaching taxi.

Official Site: https://www.km-group.co.jp/fulcul/en/

Languages Japanese/English
How to Pay In-Vehicle Payment

5. nearMe.Airport: Cheaper than a Taxi, Faster than a Bus

Riding Taxis in Japan: The 5 Best Apps to Grab a Cab

nearMe.Airport is a hybrid between a taxi and a bus. This service is available for airports such as Narita and Haneda in Tokyo, Kansai Airport in Osaka, Fukuoka, and New Chitose (Hokkaido).

nearMe.Airport can currently be used in English and Japanese.

If you take a taxi to go to Haneda Airport from Shinjuku, it takes 30 minutes and costs 7,300 yen. By limousine bus, it's a 60-minute ride and costs 1,250 yen. However, if you use nearMe.Airport, the ride takes only 45 minutes and costs 2,980 yen. The fare will be split among those sharing the ride, so it will be cheaper than a taxi and a smoother ride than a bus.

Since the shuttle picks you up from a designated spot, going to a bus stop is unnecessary. With a fixed rate and online payment options, passengers are free from worrying about a running meter.

In order to use nearME. Airport, go to the reservation page (Japanese/English), and input your destination, departure time, desired time of arrival, number of passengers and luggage.

You will be notified within 24 hours of the availability of a pick-up shuttle. The vehicle's arrival time will be sent to the passenger no later than 18:00 on the day before the ride. Step 3: On the day of your reservation, board the vehicle from the designated spot and head to your destination.

Official Site: nearMe.Airport

Languages Japanese/English
How to Pay Online

6. Uber: Available in More Than 30 Languages

Uber

Picture courtesy of Uber
Uber serves more than 700 cities worldwide. While Uber drivers in most countries drive their own car, only taxi companies in Japan can participate in this ride-hailing app due to strict industry regulations.

This app is available in major cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. Please check this page for additional information.

After downloading the app, create an account by registering your email address and telephone number. Credit card information will also be required for online payments.

Enter your destination and preferred pick-up location to enable the app to search for taxis in the area. Users can check the location of the taxi on their smartphone screens while waiting.

Official Site: Uber

Languages Over 30 languages including English, French, German, Chinese, and Korean.
How to Pay Online/In-Vehicle Payment

FAQ

How much does it cost to take a cab in Tokyo?

Taxi fares in Tokyo can vary based on factors like the time of day, distance traveled, and the specific taxi company. As a general rule, taxi fares in Tokyo start at around 410 - 430 yen per kilometer. During nighttime hours, typically from 22:00 to 5:00, there may be an additional surcharge. Keep in mind that these fare estimates are subject to change, so it's a good idea to seek updated information from the taxi company or the driver before beginning a journey.

Is it easy to find a cab at night in Tokyo?

It is generally easy to find a taxi in Tokyo at night, especially in popular areas, near train stations, and in major commercial and entertainment districts. Most taxi companies continue to operate throughout the night, and you can usually find them at designated taxi stands, outside hotels, and near busy nightlife areas. Additionally, you can also hail a taxi on the street if the "vacant" (空車) sign is lit, indicating that the taxi is available for passengers. However, it's important to note that taxis can become less available during late hours, especially in less populated or residential areas.

Is it expensive to take a cab in Japan?

Taking a cab in Japan can be relatively more expensive compared to using public transportation, especially for longer distances. The initial fare and subsequent per kilometer charges can add up, particularly in major cities like Tokyo. However, for short distances or when traveling as a group, taking a taxi can be a convenient and efficient option. It's also worth considering the comfort, privacy, and door-to-door convenience that taxis offer, especially if you're traveling with luggage or during off-peak hours when public transportation options may be limited. As with any form of transportation, it's important to consider your budget and the specific circumstances of your journey when deciding whether to take a taxi in Japan.

Can you do ride-sharing in Japan?

In Japan, the concept of ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, exists, but the regulations are different compared to many other countries. In larger cities, local taxi services and public transportation are widely available and efficient, offering alternative and faster options for getting around. On the other hand, if you're looking for a ride to or from the airport in Tokyo, we recommend using the nearMe.Airport ridesharing service.

 

Download a Taxi-Hailing App in Japan for Smooth Travels

This completes our feature on the five best taxi-hailing apps in Japan. Grabbing a cab can be stressful, but these apps make getting to your destination a smooth experience. Check out each of their respective features to select the one that best suits your needs.


Main image by Pixta

Written by

Born in Yamagata Prefecture. I have experience working in community development at the foot of Mt. Fuji and PR for local products across the country, and am currently working in Tokyo to disseminate information about Yamanashi Prefecture. A mother of one who loves local gourmet food and alcohol.

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting. Some of our articles contain affiliate links. We kindly ask our readers to exercise careful judgement when making a purchase or booking a service online.

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