Japan’s taxis are always clean and in excellent condition. There are approximately 50,000 taxis operated in Tokyo alone. Naturally taking a taxi is more expensive than taking the train, but trains often stop running around midnight, so taxis are often the only way of getting around once public transportation stops operating. Also In the countryside and even in urban centers like Kyoto, public transportation tends to be less convenient, therefore making a taxi from the nearest train station to your destination an important alternative. If you are a group of three or more people, taxis can also be an economical option on shorter distances.
How to get a taxi
• Most city train stations, and even some smaller ones, have taxis waiting to take passengers, often at a designated taxi stand.
• If you would like a driver to pick you up at home, or from another location such as a hotel or restaurant, you will need to call for one on your own or via your hotel reception (There may be a small fee charged by the taxi for pick-up service.)
• When you would like to catch a cruising taxi on a street, check the plate that is lit up above the dashboard in the lower left corner of the windshield. It indicates whether a taxi is vacant or not. (See examples below) Or see if the lamp on the top of the car is on (as this usually means a vacant car).
• Also you can wave at a taxi on the street and they will stop and pick you up.
How to use a taxi
• When you board a taxi, the rear passenger door is operated automatically by the driver so please avoid trying to open or close the door by yourself.
• If you do not speak Japanese or if your destination is not a well-known place, it is recommended to give your driver the address of your destination on a piece of paper or point it out on a map, since the Japanese address system can be confusing even to local taxi drivers. Fortunately, recent improvements in navigation systems have made it a lot easier to just give a driver the address and get to your destination even without speaking Japanese.
• All passengers are required to fasten their seat belts.
When the taxi arrives at your destination, they will tell you the fare according to the meter price. Please note that it is not customary to tip taxi drivers.
Taxi fare in Tokyo (Fare would be cheaper in countryside)
• Starts at JPY730 for the first 1km ride.
• Goes up JPY90 in 280m increments.
• When taking a taxi at late night from 10:00pm – 5:00am, there is a nighttime surcharge of 20 % added on to the fare.
• When taking a highway route, the tolls will be charged separately.
• M sized taxi (most of taxis) can take up to 4 passengers.
• Also some major stations, such as Tokyo Station, have separate taxi stands for hybrid and electric taxis that are more environmentally friendly. The fees are the same as regular taxis.