How to take a taxi in Tokyo if you don’t speak Japanese

Some drivers speak English, but don’t count on it. Here’s how to be sure you get where you’re going

Your best bet is to hand the driver a written copy of the address you’re going to (or show them on your phone). It’s better if it’s written in Japanese, but it can be written with English lettering.


Tell the driver the name of a nearby well-known landmark with a name they’ll know, even if they don’t speak English (eg. Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine) and walk from there.

How to hail a taxi:

• Stand on the curb, looking for taxis with a lighted-up roof sign and lit-up red two-character windshield sign. Hail them with a raised hand, the way you’d do anywhere else in the world.

• Wait for the driver to open the door automatically for you from the inside. Do not open it yourself.

• Give the driver your instructions.

• Don’t ever eat or drink in a cab. Talking on cellphones is OK.

• When you arrive, the driver will show you your fare on the meter. Some drivers don’t carry change for ¥10,000 notes, so please try to pay with ¥5,000 or less. The driver will open the door for you after you pay.

Do I need to tip?

No, you do not need to tip the driver. Drivers are grateful for tips if they have helped you with lots of luggage or other special needs, but it’s not expected.

Should I have the hotel call a cab for me?

Not unless you want to be unpleasantly surprised by the heinous upcharge they slap on for coming to your doorstep. Unless you’ve got steamer trunks of luggage or are in the back of beyond, it’s significantly cheaper to trundle yourself to the nearest major street and hail one of the infinite number of cabs sailing by at all times.

Click here for

Know someone who’s planning a trip to Japan? If you think this might be useful to them, share it!And if you’d like fun stuff spicing up your email from time to time, subscribe to The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had, and I’ll send you all the hidden treasures, travel hacks and best of the best, the minute I post them!

It’s easy: Scroll down to the subscribe button, enter your email, and push the button. You can unsubscribe at any time, of course, and I promise: no ads and no sharing of your information EVER.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s