Personally, I don’t often take taxis. Due to the habit of rarely using them, I only use taxis in very special cases. However, occasionally during overseas travels, there arises a need to take a taxi.
During my recent trip to Japan, I decided to experience a taxi ride at least once. Taxis in Japan are generally considered expensive, even by locals, so they are not a commonly chosen mode of transportation. In Tokyo, especially, the public transportation system, including trains and buses, is so well-developed that there’s usually no need to rely on taxis.
Taxis in Tokyo, Japan
Taxis in Japan are not significantly different from those in Korea, except for one notable feature: the taxi doors open automatically. Therefore, when riding in a taxi, you have to wait until the driver opens the door for you, which is a distinctive difference.
Moreover, most taxis in Japan are relatively old vehicles. Even though they seem like they should retire, they are still in operation as taxis. Once inside, however, the interior is generally comfortable, providing a more pleasant experience than expected.
How to Hail a Taxi
Hailing a taxi in Japan is similar to Korea. You can flag down a taxi on the street. An available taxi will have a sign on the dashboard that says “空車” (kasou), meaning available. You can catch the taxi by flagging it down when this sign is lit.
Taxi Fares in Tokyo
In Tokyo, the initial fare for a taxi ride is 410 yen for the first kilometer. Within the 23 wards of Tokyo, an additional 80 yen is charged for every 237 meters, and there is an extra charge of 80 yen every 40 seconds of waiting time.
After 10 p.m., a late-night surcharge may apply, with a 20% increase. This surcharge is applicable from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The key points are summarized below:
- Basic Fare: 410 yen for the first kilometer (approximately 4,100 won)
- Additional Fare per Distance: 80 yen for every 237 meters
- Additional Fare per Waiting Time: 80 yen for every 40 seconds
- Late-Night Surcharge: 20% increase (applies from 22:00 to 5:00)
Payment Methods for Taxis
While there are various ways to pay for taxi fares, Japan still prefers cash over credit cards for payments. It’s recommended to carry cash for taxi payments, as it is the safer option. Some taxis also accept payment through transportation cards like “Suica,” so if you are in a taxi that supports Suica payments, you can use your Suica card.
Taking a Taxi from Shibuya to Harajuku
During my Tokyo trip, I took a taxi from Shibuya to Harajuku. Even though it was only one subway station away, and the distance wasn’t long, the taxi fare amounted to 680 yen, which is approximately 6,800 won. While taxi fares in Japan can be expensive, using them occasionally provides a quick and convenient means of transportation and allows for a brief moment to recover from accumulated fatigue during travels.