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Catching a Taxi in Tokyo

Post: Monday January 30, 2017

Taxis, while not quite as common as salarymen, are a common sight in Tokyo.

Indeed, there are in the neighborhood of 50,000 of them transporting people around Japan's capital.

While not cheap by any standard, they provide convenient transportation to and from any destination, especially to addresses that are not close to a train station or bus stop.



Catching a cab in Tokyo is quite simple, and done just in any other large, urban environment.

On the street

1) Go to the nearest main street and look for a taxi with the word 空車 (ku-sha), which means "available," in red showing in its marquee on the dashboard (as pictured below).

Taxi 01

2) Hail the taxi by stepping to the edge of the street, look intently at the driver, wave or raise a hand, and/or shouting "Taxi!" to get the cab driver's attention.

3) When a cab driver stops to pick you up, he will almost always put on his hazard lights as he pulls over to the side of the road.

Taxi stands

1) At train stations, big hotels, and other major venues, there are often taxi stands, with a long row of taxis waiting to pick up passengers.

Taxi 02

2) If it's busy, get in the line of passengers and wait until it's your turn.

3) When it's your turn, merely approach the taxi at the head of the line.

Taxi Fare

  • Taxi fares start at ¥410 for the first 1.052 (0.65 miles) and increase ¥80 for each additional 237m (777 ft.) 

    Fares between 10 pm – 5 am are generally 20% more.

Additional notes

  • The doors of the taxi are controlled by the driver, who will open and close it automatically from the driver's seat.
  • Always get in the back seat after the driver opens the door.
  • There is no smoking in taxis.


  • Since Tokyo has many unnamed roads and drivers may not always know every last back road, taxis all have GPS navigation systems.
  • Where possible, always have the address of your destination ready for the driver to put into his GPS system.


Below is a hypothetical conversation between a driver and passenger, illustrating how you might communicate where you need to go. There is also a list of common words you will need ot know when instructing a taxi driver where to drop you off. Japanese follows English in each sentence.

Giving your destination

Driver: "Where would you like to go?" Dochira made?
You: "Please take me to Roppongi 3-chome". Roppongi san-chome made onegai shimasu.
Driver: "Certainly." Kashikomarimashita.

Giving directions

You: "Please turn left at the next corner." Tsugi no kado wo hidari ni magatte kudasai/Tsugi no kado hidari desu.
"Please stop just before the traffic lights." Shingou no temae de tomete kudasai.
"My apartment (house) is right on the next corner." Watashi no apato (ie) wa tsugi no kado desu.
"Please stop here." Koko de tomete kudasai.
"How much?" Ikura desuka?
"Please give me a receipt." Ryoshusho wo kudasai / Reshiito wo kudasai.

Common words

Right: Migi Left: Hidari
Straight: Massugu Turn: Magaru
Stop: Tomaru Here: Koko
There: Asoko This: Kore
That: Are It: Sore
I'm in a hurry: Isoide imasu. Please drive faster: Isoide kudasai.


Below is an explanation of all of the normal signs you see in a Taxi marquee

1) Warimashi
increased night fare – Between the hours of 11 pm – 5 am, taxis charge an additional 20% fare
so you will see this sign on many available taxis during that timeframe
Taxi Signs01
2) Chinsou
not available
Taxi Signs02
3) Kaisou
out of service
Taxi Signs03
4) Kashikiri / Geisha
reserved, on the way to a pick-up
Taxi Signs04Taxi Signs05
5) Yoyakusha
reserved for specific amount of time
Taxi Signs06


If you need to reserve a taxi or otherwise schedule a pick-up, you can call either of the two taxi companies below and English speaking operators will be available to help you.

1. Nihon Kotsu
Reservation: 03-5755-2336
24hours, 365 days on line in English
2. Kokusai Motorcars
Reservation: 03-3505-6001
An English-speaking operator available on request.
3. Hello Tokyo
Reservations/requests: 03-5653-7921
Japanese anytime/English available



There are several types of taxis driving around Tokyo. Below are the most common types.

Standard sedan taxi Van taxi
Taxi Type01 Taxi Type02
Electric vehicle taxi  
Taxi Type03  



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