How-to: A cab ride in Tokyo

Do you know that the average taxi fare in Japan is among the most expensive in the world?

Will a cab ride in Tokyo break your bank? Find out more on our blog today!

Surprisingly, even after spending several years in Japan, I hardly ever use the taxi (only a few times if I remember correctly).  The reason is obvious, as a student on scholarship, I couldn’t afford it at all.

According to the Telegraph, taking a taxi from Narita airport will cost about 230USD. With the cost per mile being about 5.7USD, Japan is only third behind Denmark and Switzerland (read more here).

Header photo :  ltd./© JNTO


Taxi in Japan is quite old but usually kept in very good condition


Considering there are many cheaper ways to get around in Tokyo (Crazy train system in TokyoType of train in Japan), you might discover that there is no need to use a taxi at all. But if you happen to find yourself missing the last train, taking a cab might be a little less expensive than staying in a hotel overnight.

Or when you are travelling with a giant suitcase on the rush hour train (I’ve written about rush hour in Tokyo before, if you are interested please check it out >> How to fit yourself in a rush hour train5 things that surprise me about Japan), or when the rain is pouring, these are times when you will find the need to use the taxi because it will be more convenient.


Will a cab ride break your bank?

Of course, it won’t be an economical choice to take a cab alone but when sharing a ride with a few people such as friends or family, it might a reasonable choice to consider.

Recently, I had a chance to take a cab in Tokyo. I was so surprised how clean the cab and how polite my driver was. It was so much different from what I experienced back home.

There are several things which I feel worth mentioning:


Taxi stand





Although technically you can flag taxi anywhere as long as there is enough space on the roadside for taxi to stop and pick you up.

When you are at the train station, it’s important that you go to designated taxi stop. Just look for the sign taxi, typically these taxi stops are in front of the train station.

Sometimes, taxi stands for big and smaller cars are separated. Bigger taxi will cost more. Generally, the basic fare is 710 yen/1.8 km but it depends on operators. Some can cost more, some cost less.



Taxi stand in front of Odawara station



So if your hotel is about 1 km away from the train station and there are 3 of you with 3 big suitcases, isn’t it better just to take a cab and save your time? 1 km walk won’t take too long to walk if you know where you are going… if you don’t, then it might end up taking longer than expected.


Automatic doors


Since Japanese people are very particular about hygiene, cabs have automatic doors so that you don’t even have to touch the door handle! So when you get on the car, there is no need to close the door. It will be shut automatically.





This also works for safety reasons. The driver will only open door if he/she thinks it’s safe for you to get off the car. Quite awesome right?


Toll cost


In my country (in case you are curious, I am from Thailand), although it wasn’t a rule but general knowledge that passengers need to prepare cash when using toll way. The final price will just be the price on the meter, easier to calculate.

In Japan, since most cabs use ETC card ( Electronic Toll Collection System), you don’t need to prepare cash! The final price will be calculated with toll cost included. You can also pay by credit cards.

That cab ride I told you in the beginning of this post was from Tokyo station (Yaesu exit) to Shibuya Tokyu Excel Hotel. Our driver was so nice he drove all the way to the lobby on the 5th floor. We didn’t even have to carry our luggage through the busy Shibuya crossing. It costs about 4,xxx yen toll cost included.



Driver uniform

Experience real Omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) in one taxi ride!





I was so impressed how well dressed cab drivers in Japan are. Besides the uniform, they also wear white gloves! The drivers I’ve encountered so far are very kind and polite. They will open the door for you, help you with luggage, make sure there is nothing left behind, etc.


Don’t speak Japanese?


Okay, this is universal problem. Some taxis I’ve been in have some automatic announcements in both Japanese and English – e.g. one near Hakone, which is crowded with foreign visitors.

Don’t worry! Even if you don’t speak Japanese, if you have the name of hotel/destination and address, drivers can use GPS to get you to wherever you want to go.


If you need a private charters car, we can help you!

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We hope this is helpful. See you next time!



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