A taxi can be very convenient for sightseeing since it can get you close to the area you want to be. This is a guide to Japanese taxis. Foreign language support is also becoming more common, so please do not hesitate to use them.
1. Finding a Taxi
Taxis are usually parked in areas like hotels, train stations, and downtown areas. There will be a taxi stand next to larger stations and facilities, and most hotels can call a taxi for you. If a taxi has the vacant (空車) sign turned on in the lower-right part of the windshield, it will stop if you raise your hand. It varies depending on the area, but usually the vacant sign is red and the light on top of the car will be on.
2. Boarding a Taxi
Customers usually sit in the rear seat, but if there are multiple people you can also sit in the front. The vehicle’s left rear door opens automatically, while the front seat opens manually. If you have large luggage, let the driver know so he can open the trunk. There will be no surcharge for luggage if it is small enough to fit in the car.
3. After Boarding a Taxi
Put your seat belt on and give your destination to the driver. Many drivers do not understand foreign languages, so using a map or a guidebook to assist communication is recommended.
4. Arriving at the Destination
Please pay the fare calculated by the meter. There will be an additional charge if a toll road has been used. The fare can be more expensive after midnight, and discounts may be available for long distances (though this differs between companies). Most taxis accept credit cards, though some only take cash so it is better to ask before boarding. Taxis that accept electronic money on cards like the Suica have been increasing in number, so please confirm the payment method before boarding.
In recent times, taxis that can handle foreign language support have been increasing. Here are a few companies in Tokyo that offer convenient services.
Drivers who speak foreign languages: A reservation is required, and an additional fee is charged.
■『NIHON KOTSU』(English, Chinese, Korean and French)
Multilingual translation service: Communication with the driver can be made through telephone operators. No reservation is required (please ask the driver). This is a complimentary service.
■『DAIICHI KOUTSU』(Corresponds in 11 languages)
Smartphone app with foreign languages: Call a taxi easily by using a map on your phone.
A sightseeing taxi is recommended for touring. You can hire a taxi to go around major tourist locations, and choose a course depending on your plan.
・3 hour course: 14,950 JPY
・5 hour course: 24,630 JPY
※An additional 310 JPY per half hour is charged when hiring a driver who speaks foreign languages like English, Chinese, or Korean.
・2 hour course: 10,080 JPY (incl. tax)〜
・5 hour course: 25,200 JPY (incl. tax)〜
※English support is complimentary if a medium or larger sized vehicle is hired (fees listed above are for medium and larger sized vehicles).
■『INTERNATIONAL VISTORS TAXI』(Osaka)
・3 hour course: 15,000 JPY〜
・5 hour course: 25,000 JPY〜
※English support is complimentary.
※Fees above do not include expressway toll fees, parking fees, or admission of any kind.
If you use taxis, you can reach places that don't have trains or buses available, and easily reach your destination without getting lost. The driver may give you guidance and maybe even take photos for you, so there are many convenient services offered by taxis. If you know how to use them, then you can enjoy an even more comfortable trip.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.