【Travel Q&A】What’s the most convenient way to get around Japan? 6 questions about trains, taxis and Uber!
When considering the best modes of transport to take in Japan during your trip, most will agree that trains and taxis are the most convenient. We have compiled and answered a list of common questions and doubts about riding trains, taxis and using Uber in Japan.
1: “I want to be able to use the trains without any problems!”
Everyone can agree that trains in Japan are extremely convenient. Before boarding the the train, you’ll need to purchase an IC card. There are different kinds of IC cards for each region in Japan. If you’re in Tokyo, then you’re going to need to get yourself a SUICA card or a PASMO card. (They both work in exactly the same way, so be sure to pick one up at the train station!).
Once you have your card, you’ll need to top it up with cash, which is called “charging” your card in Japan. You can charge your card between ￥1,000 and ￥10,000 at all stations. You can then scan your card by placing it on the “IC” marker at the barriers. This is the best way to pay for your train fair in Japan because it means you don’t have to worry about tickets and can beep in and out quickly and conveniently. You can even use your SUICA or PASMO to pay at convenience stores, restaurants, for taxis, and more.
2: “What’s a good train app for navigating my route?”
Japan’s train system is complex and can be confusing at times with its range of different trains and lines, sometimes making your journey difficult. But that’s where apps come in handy – to make your trip around Japan more convenient and therefore stress-free and more enjoyable.
We recommend Google Maps. It sounds like an obvious choice, but it’s super helpful. You can search for whatever location you want to go to in Japan by using and it’ll show you the quickest way to reach your destination.
However, make sure to check which train you are riding on before boarding. There are different trains at that arrive at platforms, the most common of which are the Local (各駅停車 = kakueki-teisha), Express (急行 = kyuukou), and Limited Express (特急 = tokkyuu). The Local trains stop at each station along a line while the Express will stop at fewer stations, and the Limited Express only at major stations. Each train will also be more expensive depending on the type.
3: “Where can I call a taxi?”
Most train stations in Japan have taxi bays right next to them, so it’s easiest to use those. But if you’re walking along the street and need to catch a taxi, then simply raise your hand up at any taxi passing by and they will stop for you.
In Tokyo, vacant taxis will have the sign on top of the car lit up, reading “空車” which means ‘vacant.’ Look out for the glowing sign when you want to ride a taxi and stick your hand out!
4: “How much do taxis cost?”
Taxis in Japan can be quite expensive. In the Tokyo area, the first 1.052km costs ￥410. The price will then increase by ￥280 every 280m.
In other regions, the first 20,000m costs ￥730, and beyond that depends on which location you are in, but generally it will increase by ￥90 every 280m. It will get expensive if you’re travelling long distance, so it’s best to check how far away your destination is prior to your journey using Google Maps.
Nighttime prices in Japan double between 22:00 and 05:00. If you’re stuck in the middle of the night with a taxi as your only option, then it might be cheaper to stay out having fun until morning!
5: “Can you use Uber?”
You can use Uber in Japan with no problem at all. However, it is a little more expensive than a taxi. It’s a convenient alternative if you can’t find a taxi to wave down, but in most cases it would be better to take a taxi if you can. But for people who prefer to use payment methods that are much more smooth, Uber might be the most convenient.
6: Can taxi drivers speak English?
Unfortunately, most taxi drivers in Japan cannot speak English. However, many taxis in Japan are equipped with Sat Navs which can take you to your place of destination with just the phone number of the location that you are heading to. It’s best to have the phone number of your destination to hand with you if taking a taxi. But if you do not have this, then a map explaining your destination will work nicely too.
Did you find this article useful? Make sure you’re prepared before your trip to Japan to ensure you have the best trip possible in the most efficient way.
MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON will continue to post helpful Q&A that will be useful during your Japan travels. If you have any questions regarding Japan then we’d love to answer them.
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