There is a taxi found on most major roadways in large cities and they can often be found at the central train or bus station in smaller towns. Much like the rest of the world they are easily recognizable by the lights on the roof of their vehicles. Taxis also have a green license plate you can use to pick them out and they are generally considered very safe.  Unlicensed taxis are pretty much unheard of in Japan.  Look for green lights on top of the taxi.  The lights are lit up red when occupied and green indicates available for hire.

So you know how to identify a taxi and that they’re safe. Let’s take a look at the quick and easy guide for taking a taxi ride in Japan.

How to Get In and Out of a Taxi Like You Know What You’re Doing

Before locating a cab take a second to write down your desired address on a piece of paper or your phone. Even better if you can point it out on a map since the address system in Japan can sometimes be confusing to Japanese people as well.

  1. Locate and hail a taxi. Avoid hailing a taxi in a busy location where it’s unsafe to stop.
  2. To enter the taxi wait for the rear door on the left side to automatically open – don’t open the door yourself!
  3. You tried to open the door yourself, didn’t you? You were surprised by it popping open on its own before you could pull the door handle, weren’t you?
  4. Indicate your desired address.
  5. Don’t be surprised when your driver speaks to you in English. You don’t own the language. It’s the most widely spoken language in the world.
  6. Watch the price climb precipitously.
  7. Realize you should’ve taken a bus or train.
  8. Pay your fare and take your change. Do not try to tip.
  9. You tried to tip didn’t you? This is rude. I told you not to do that.
  10. Don’t try to open the door! It’ll open automatically.
  11. And you tried to close the door  behind you, right?  It closes on its own.
  12. Exit the taxi and vow to do better next time.
A man waits near a taxi stand in Tokyo.

In Japan it is common to get a taxi at designated taxi areas. These are usually found outside train or bus stations and airports. You can still wave down a taxi if it appears as vacant.

When to Rely on Taxis Instead of Other Transit

And those are the steps. You can avoid steps seven and eight when there are three or more passengers splitting the fare. Plus taxis are pretty handy in reaching areas buses or trains don’t go or in late night situations when public transit is otherwise unavailable.

Late nights out can often require the use of a taxi in getting home as public transportation tends to shut down between midnight and 1:00am even in large cities. It’s strange that the times most often requiring the ability to write down an address or point correctly on a map are the moments when we’re least able to do so.

You could always let the good times roll all night and wait for the first train or bus, crash a love hotel or capsule hotel.  Or get crazy all night at the nearest karaoke or internet café. You’ll feel awful but any late night long distance taxi rides that require taking the highway will have the added cost of any tolls paid along the way and the increased rates that start after 10:00pm. It gets pricey pretty quickly which may be why it’s not uncommon for Japanese people to spend an entire night trapped and waiting for the early morning transit start.

You can do the same. Just make sure you’re going to be able to make your tattoo session on time.  Perhaps a stop at the convenience store before showing up for your consultation or session?