Let’s Ride! A Quick Guide to Japanese Taxis

  • Have you ever wondered why all taxis look alike in Japan? There’s a reason- they are! Well, for the most part.

    Although colours may vary depending on the company, the two main types of taxi are as follows:

    Toyota Crown Comfort
    Nissan Crew

    These cars make a distinct sound as many of them run on propane, rather than gas or diesel.

    Recently, many companies are taking advantage of the fuel-efficient Toyota Prius as well.

    You can immediately notice a taxi by its colour scheme, or by a light on the top.

    To know if it is occupied or unoccupied, look for the kanji sign below:

    Unoccupied – ready for the taking!

    The average Japanese cab can seat three passengers in the back, and passenger in front, plus a load of luggage in the trunk. Although, it is very rare for someone to sit in the front of the taxi unless the back is full.

    Some unique features of Japanese taxis

    Automatically opening doors – the driver has a lever by his seat to open and close the back door for you. Don’t go grabbing on to the handle yourself, it may cause the taxi driver to panic in confusion!

    Seats covered in white or lacy seat covers, to show purity and cleanliness.

    A clear picture of the driver and his taxi registration license on the dash or next to the meter.

    A plexiglass guard separating you and the driver, depending on the company and the city. They are becoming more popular these days, although robberies are rare, it is best to play it safe!


    Many taxis, especially in rural areas, only accept cash. Those that accept credit cards will have a Visa or MasterCard sign displayed on the outside back window. As well, the starting fare for the initial one kilometre or two kilometers is clearly stated on the window, so you know what you are getting into.

    Once in the cab, the fare is clearly listed on the dashboard, and usually beeps upon increase during travel.

    Be warned! Japanese taxis are more expensive than those in many other countries. Some premium taxis may cost more still, and some have higher or cheaper night rates depending on the company.

    You can flag a taxi down by raising your hand, or go to a taxi stand and hop in there. You can often see taxis lined up by the street, those are usually ready to take passengers.

    The best part about Japanese taxis? No tipping required!! Although, if you do want to chuck the driver your spare change from the fee, he will likely appreciate it!

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