• Japan Tips

Taxis In Japan: Etiquette, How Much They Cost, and More

People exiting a Japanese taxi

Taxis in Japan are often considered an expensive and inconvenient alternative to the superb public transport that is on offer in the big cities.

However, if you have a lot of luggage that needs transporting, you’re in a big group, or it’s after midnight, and all the subways and trains in Japan have stopped running, you might need to hail a cab.

Taxis in Japan are also highly convenient in the smaller cities and towns where the public transport isn’t as good.

Japanese Taxis are usually very clean, the level of service is high, and so are the prices. But don’t worry, drivers don’t take advantage of their clients and fares are calculated by running metres.

If you’re thinking about visiting or working in Japan, there’s a good chance you’ll need to use a taxi at some point. Keep reading below to find out everything you need to know about Taxis in Japan.

A Japanese taxi driving along the road.

What do Japanese Taxis Look Like?

Japanese taxis don’t look that different from taxis in the rest of the world. It’s pretty obvious that they are taxis. There are a few identifying characteristics though.

The Car

The car will usually have a taxi light on the rooftop and a neon sign in the windscreen that indicates whether it is vacant or not. A red light usually means it is vacant, whereas a green light means occupied.

The number plates are green, and the Toyota Crown is one of the most popular vehicles that is used as a taxi.

The Driver

Japanese taxi drivers are very well dressed. They often wear a suit and white driving gloves with a chauffeur cap. They take pride in their taxi environment and try to make it as clean and nice as possible for you.

Japanese taxis waiting at a taxi rank for customers

How To Hail A Japanese Taxi

Hailing a taxi in Japan is pretty much the same as hailing a taxi in the west.

You can go to a taxi stand and wait for one, flag one down in the street, phone a taxi company, or use an app.

If you don’t speak Japanese and waiting at a taxi rank or flagging one down isn’t convenient, you can ask people like hotel receptionists to help you get one.

In small towns, you may have to pay a small additional fee to order a taxi though.

Taxi Hailing Apps

Taxi apps are a great way to easily order a taxi.

Once you’ve downloaded one, all you need to do is input your destination and press the order button.

Some of these apps let you order in English, which is great if you don’t speak Japanese.

Japan Taxi, Tokyo Taxi Association and Tokyo Musen all enable you to use them in the English language.

A Japanese taxi driving down a busy street

Using Japanese Taxis

Using a Japanese taxi is a little different to using a taxi in the west. Here are some things you should know.


It’s worth noting that, in April 2024, Japan is set to remove its ban on ridesharing. However, the accessibility of ridesharing services is anticipated to remain significantly restricted even post-ban, due to the constraints on locations, timings, and providers. 

As it stands, current rideshare apps in Japan are limited to only hailing taxis, rather than private cars, with little chance of substantial change in the foreseeable future.

Electric Doors

Before you rip open the door and jump in the taxi, wait.

Most taxis in Japan have an electric door on the rear left-hand side that is opened remotely by the driver.

You are not supposed to open or close this door by yourself. It is fine to open the other doors manually though.

Getting To Your Destination

If you don’t speak Japanese and you’re not heading to a well-known destination, your driver may struggle to understand where you want to go. Most Japanese people do not speak English.

You should write your destination down on a piece of paper in Japanese or even point it out on a map to make sure they know where you want to go.

Paying For Your Taxi

Stickers and signs on the taxi will usually indicate which methods of payment are accepted.

Most taxis take payment in cash, and many now accept credit and debit card payments.

Some taxis will accept IC cards, which are rechargeable cards that are used to pay fares on public transport.

In general, you should try to avoid paying small fares with big bills. You don’t have to tip either. Tipping is not the norm in Japan.

Taxi drivers are very trustworthy in Japan, so don’t worry about being taken for a ride. Fare calculations are almost always done by the meter, and they will navigate to your destination using GPS.

There are certain situations where fares are not by the meter. These are scenarios like when a fixed price to a destination has been decided on. For example, a taxi from the airport or train station.

A black Japanese taxi driving through busy Tokyo streets

How Much Does A Taxi Cost In Japan

So, how expensive are taxis in Japan? Just like most other countries in the world, the price of a taxi varies by location.

Pre-Arranged Airport Transfer

For many travellers, the journey to or from the airport often involves taking a taxi. Japan’s major airports offer fixed-fare options and shared services to facilitate this.

Narita Airport

When travelling from Narita Airport to central Tokyo, passengers can opt for a taxi ride with a fixed fare. Tokyo’s various zones are clearly defined, each with a predetermined price. 

Passengers simply need to request the fixed rate from their driver upon entering the cab. However, it’s advisable to check the fare beforehand, as this is not a short distance!

Haneda Airport

Similar to Narita Airport, Haneda Airport provides a similar service, with flat-rate taxi fares available for travellers heading to most areas of Tokyo.

Taxi Fares By City

Below are some of the fares you can expect to be paying in popular Japanese cities. The start fare is the price when you get in the taxi. The 1km price is the per kilometre travelled in the taxi.

Taxis In Tokyo

Start Fare: ¥ 450
1km Price: ¥ 420

Taxis In Kyoto

Start Fare: ¥ 490
1km Price: ¥ 320

Taxis In Nagoya

Start Fare: ¥ 475
1km Price: ¥ 450

Taxis In Osaka

Start Fare: ¥ 680
1km Price: ¥ 400

Taxis In Fukuoka

Start Fare: ¥ 580
1km Price: ¥ 325

Taxi Fares by Type

In Japan, standard taxi cabs typically accommodate up to four passengers (in addition to the driver) and offer space for two suitcases. Although larger taxis are less common, they are available at slightly higher fares. 

The widely used “Toyota Japan Taxi” model has the flexibility to accommodate a wheelchair in place of two passengers.

Standard Four-Passenger Taxi

For standard four-passenger taxis in Japan, fares usually begin at 400-750 yen for the initial 1-2 kilometres, and increase by around 80-100 yen for every additional 200-400 meters travelled

Fares also rise when the taxi remains stationary for an extended period. During late hours (10pm to 5am), rates typically increase by 20 percent. If the taxi utilises expressways, the tolls are included in the fare. Several companies offer discounts for longer distances, typically around 10 percent for trips exceeding 9000 yen.

If you’re dating in Japan, or out partying all night in Tokyo, it’s worth planning a taxi!

Sightseeing Taxis

Sightseeing taxis are common in all of the big Japanese cities. They’re a great way to comfortably see all of the sights you want to see.

A qualified sightseeing taxi driver will chauffeur you around landmark locations whilst telling you stories and educating you on the history of the areas.

Sightseeing taxis have great flexibility. You can choose a pre-determined tour, or you can agree on a custom tour that covers everything you want to see. Want some inspiration? Check out our blog post on must-visit places for tourists in Japan.

Fortunately, you don’t stay in the taxi the whole time either. At certain landmarks and locations, you will exit the vehicle, and the driver will show you them up close.

A Japanese taxi waiting at a pedestrian crossing in front of a coffee shop.

Taxis And Crime

The police in Japan use taxis to help fight crime.

In August 2009, the Takkun Crime Prevention Information System was implemented.

The system makes use of the fact that taxis are travelling around the city 24 hours a day.

Video captured by taxi dash cams and internal cameras is used in criminal investigations when they are useful.

The taxis are also “always watching” and have ways to communicate with the police. They are used as extra eyes and ears to help find and catch criminals.

Read our blog about the crime rate in Japan vs the US for more information on this topic.

Feel Confident With Taxis In Japan Now?

Now you know what makes Japanese taxis special, how to flag one down, and the sort of service you can expect, are you feeling more confident in your options?

Have you ever considered working in Japan? If you’re thinking about becoming a teacher in Japan, knowing how to hail a cab will be very useful. Especially on your way from the airport with your luggage.

Why not browse our teaching in Japan opportunities today.

About the Author

Brian McDonough is a consultant at Interac, Japan’s largest provider of ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers). Originally from the US, Brian has lived in Japan for over 25 years, giving him a unique perspective on the cultural differences and challenges people face when moving to Japan. He has first-hand experience of working in Japan as an American.