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Japan has an estimated 260,000 taxis operating nationwide, with Tokyo alone having around 35,000 taxis working from 333 different taxi companies. Kyoto also has a large number of taxis, probably more than is economically viable for many cab companies.

All Japanese taxis can be hailed on the street, from virtually anywhere you like, at most times and in most areas.

Do not open or close the door.

All taxis in Japan have automated doors. If you encounter one that doesn’t, or if it’s broken, the driver will come out and open it for you.

Have enough money.

Depending on the area and also the time of day, taxi fares can get very expensive, and you can’t always pay with a credit card. Check how much cash you have before you ride, or ask the driver if you can use a credit card.

Flag fall for the first 2km (1.25 miles) varies by city and region, and sometimes by the kind of taxi—710 yen in Tokyo, but as low as about 500 yen in some smaller cities and rural areas. After that it costs up to 90 yen for every further increment of distance traveled. … In Tokyo, there is an added nighttime surcharge of 20% after 10pm, and 30% 11pm – 5am.

The taxi passenger is also responsible for paying any highway tolls.

Know where to hail a cab.

In some busy areas like Tokyo and Osaka you can normally raise your hand by the curb and a taxi will come, but you always have to wait at a taxi stand if you’re at a train station or a large hotel.

Red means vacant, green of blue means occupied.


You might think it’s the opposite, but a red-lit sign on the taxi means it is available. A green-lit sign means the taxi is taken. Or the light on top of the cab may simply be lit.

Know exactly where you’re going.

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 – even better – point it out on a map, since the Japanese address system can be confusing even to local taxi drivers.

Wear a seatbelt.

But then again, you should always wear a seat belt no matter what vehicle you’re in. Driving in any large city is potentially dangerous, and you should take precautions to be as safe as possible.

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