All Japanese taxis can be hailed on the street, almost from anywhere you need.
However some areas, like Ginza in Tokyo, do not allow taxis to stop anywhere but taxi stands, requiring passengers to line up at a taxi stand. Taxi stands can be found at railway and subway stations and major hotels in Tokyo. But can be big line on Friday and Saturday nights and after trains stop running.
Taxis can also be booked for a period of time and called by telephoning the cab company.
A plate on the dashboard in the lower corner of the windshield indicates whether a taxi is vacant or not. A red plate indicates that the taxi is vacant and a green plate indicates the opposite.
Taxis in Japan are not cheap. Flag fall for the first 2km (1.25 miles)is 710 yen in Tokyo, but as low as about 500 yen in some smaller cities. After that it costs up to 90 yen for every further increment of distance traveled: which, depending on the city or region, ranges between about 250 and 300 meters. You can pay by cash in Japanese Yen or by credit card.
4 Additional Charges in Japanese taxi
- There is the waiting fare which is charged instead of the distance fare whenever the speed of the taxi drops below 10km/h in heavy traffic or if the passenger makes the taxi wait: 90 yen per 1:45 min in Tokyo and a little less in other cities.
- The taxi passenger is also responsible for paying any highway tolls during the journey.
In Tokyo, there is an added nighttime surcharge of 20% after 10pm, and 30% 11pm - 5am.
When you board a taxi, note that the vehicle's left rear door is opened and closed remotely by the driver. You are not supposed to open or close the door by yourself, except when using a different door.
You are not supposed to tip taxi drivers!
If you do not speak Japanese or if your destination is not a well known place, give your driver the address of your destination on a piece of paper (better to have it on Japanese language because most of the taxi drivers don't speak English) or point it out on a map, since the Japanese address system can be confusing even to local taxi drivers. But all the taxi has GPRS which really helps.
Taxi drivers in Japan are generally highly trustworthy and will not try to take advantage of their clients. Anyway licensed taxis can be recognised by their green license plates, as opposed to the white and yellow license plates of regular cars.
Existing law requires buckling up in the front seat only. So back seat safety is an option and not a requirement. If you travel with small children, put the baby in a sling and put the seatbelt between yourself and the baby - not ideal, but at least that way the baby won't get crushed by the seatbelt, and won't get thrown around in a sudden stop.