Catching a cab in Japan using Japanese

It is fairly easy to catch a cab in Japan. However communicating with the drive might be a little bit difficult if you don't speak Japanese. In this case I would recommend you to show him the the address printed out.

Catching a cab in Japan is not a difficult task


I think Japanese cabs offer always accessible, comfortable and high class service, but their fare might be expensive. The cars are usually painted black and there are some yellow cabs as well.

When talking to the driver in Japan, I advise you to use Japanese

The back seat is wide enough for three passengers to sit, however this is not really allowed by the drivers so you and two of your friends could fit. Payments are usually made by cash. I don't recommend using credit cards in Japan. Sometimes it happens in some asian countries, that drivers make you pay the toll, I have never experienced this in Japan.

One more interesting thing is that when you approach the car the door opens automatically. I found it very weird for the first time, because whenever I wanted to get in the car I tried to open the door by myself which resulted in a big surprise for the people around me. The same thing happens when you leave the car. Don’t try to close the door because it will do it automatically.

Another good advice is that when you tell the driver for example the station you want to go don't forget to mention the line that it is on. There are many stations which have the same name but they are on different subway or train lines. It happened to me quite often, that the driver took me to the wrong place, because I didn't specify the station and the line so I had to tell him on the way that this is not the place where I wanted to go.

Obliviously the best is if you speak Japanese to them. Honestly, they don't really speak any other language, since most of them are older men and naturally they can only speak their native language. Regarding the language they use, I realized that somehow they try to avoid using polite terms, which I don't really understand , because they are providing service, when, in Japan, people are required to use honorific Japanese.

Japanese cabs offer always accessible, comfortable and high class service

In general, Japanese people tend to follow rules, however this might not be the case for cab drivers. This has a positive side effect, namely that the transportation is fast and punctual. In addition if you are in a busy place such as the city center, cabs are available almost 24/7h.

Cabs that can carry passengers have “空車(くうしゃ)” sign written on them. Direct translation would mean “empty car”. But the first character(空) is usually used for things that are available, as well.

All right after the long introduction let's see the dialogue. I will explain you a classical case, when for example you're planning to travel to Osaka. I have to mention that the transportation of Osaka is quite good so you hardly have to take a cab. In case you have a lots of luggage or you don't want to travel in the morning or evening rush, I would recommend you to do so.

The next dialogue will be about a trip from Shin-Osaka(新大阪駅) station to Shinsaibashi(心斎橋駅) station. In case you're arriving from Tokyo(東京) this is the station where the Shinkasen(新幹線) drops you off, and Shinsaibashi is basically the city center of Osaka.

The Japanese language uses at least three types of characters. Katakana-s and Hiragana-s are essential to read basic Japanese texts. I suppose that the reader has already mastered these characters so I will use them to introduce you the dialogue. If you haven't done it so far you can find an interactive katakana and hiragana test on my site.

  • お客様(きゃくさま):いいですか?
  • Passenger: May I? (direct translation: Good?)
  • 運転手(うんてんしゅ)さん:はい!
  • Driver: Yes!
  • お客様:心斎橋駅(しんさいばしえき)までお願(ねが)いします!
  • Passenger: To Shinsaibashi station, please!
  • 運転手さん:かしこまりました!心斎橋駅のどこですか?
  • Driver: Alright, where about at Shinsaibashi?
  • お客様:えーとね、アップルストアの右側(みぎがわ)に止(と)まってもらって(も)いいですか?
  • Correction [03-08]: It is better to use: 止まってもらえますか?
  • Passenger: Could you stop by the right side of the Apple Store?
  • 運転手さん:はい、分(わ)かりました。
  • Driver: Yeah, no problem.
  • 運転手さん:ここは大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)ですか?
  • Driver: What about here?
  • お客様:はい、ここで止まってください!
  • Passenger: Yes, please stop here!
  • じゃあ、お会計(かいけい)2500円(えん)になります。5000円お預(あず)かりします。お釣(つ)りは2500円になります。ありがとうこざいました。
  • Driver: It is 2500 Yen in total. So I give you 2500 Yen change from a 5000 Yen bill. Thank you very much!
  • お客様:ありがとう!
  • Passenger: Thanks!

The vocabulary of the dialogue:

  • いい ー good
  • お願い ー request, requirement
  • アップルストア ー Apple Store
  • 右 ー right (side)
  • 側 ー side
  • 止まる ー to stop
  • 分かる ー to understand, to know
  • 大丈夫 ー alright, OK
  • 会計 ー total amount
  • 預ける ー to take, to receive on deposit
  • お釣り ー change ( money )
Feel free to replace the nouns verbs and adjectives in the dialogue and you will be able to travel with a cab basically anywhere in Japan.
Now let's see "How to buy train tickets in Japan in Japanese"



Further reading

More Videos