Cabs for Foreigners and the Troubling Taxi Situation in Japan Explained


Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

I want to book a cab for a foreign customer.

What are some things to keep in mind when making arrangements?

Are you worried about this?

In fact, there are some caveats to arranging a cab for a foreigner.

This article is written by the author, a former hotelier who has arranged cabs for a number of foreign guests.
The current cab situation will also be explained, so please use it as a reference when arranging a cab for a foreigner.

What about cab service for foreigners?

Cabs are very convenient for foreigners to get around in Japan. Subway and bus routes are complicated, and the destination and station may be far from each other.
Cabs, on the other hand, are more convenient because they can get you to your destination quickly.

There is no cab service exclusively for foreigners, but it is safe to assume that foreigners also use regular cabs. Recently, cabs can be hailed via an app.

The cab app “GO” has been updated to allow even foreign visitors to Japan to use the app, making it even more convenient for them.

Visitors to Japan can use GO apps by registering their own cards and phone numbers. GO also works with transportation apps in other countries, such as Kakao T in Korea, Grab in Southeast Asia, and Alipay and Ctrip in China, to enable seamless registration, making registration easy and hassle-free.

Cab Situation for Foreign Visitors to Japan

Cab apps have made registration easy, but what are the problems that foreign visitors to Japan face when taking a cab?

From here, we will explain the problems that foreign visitors to Japan may encounter when using cabs.

Cash Culture

Japan is considered to have a strong cash culture; as of 2021, 24% of Japan’s population is cashless, while in South Korea, which ranks first, credit is the norm, with 97% of stores adopting it. In other countries, cashless shopping is becoming more common, and people are able to live without cash.

In Japan, however, some stores still only accept cash, and ATMs may not accept foreign cards.

It is only recently that credit cards have become accepted in cabs. Although the use of cashless services is gradually progressing, it is probably lagging behind that of other countries.

Language support

Language support is an issue that cannot be dismissed as a problem for foreigners using cabs.

Language barriers still exist, as people exchange words when telling each other where to go and when paying.

In addition, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the average age of cab drivers is 58 years old, a situation that is getting older. Older people find it difficult to learn English, and conversation tends to become awkward.

Language problems can be solved through the use of apps and other means to make cab travel more comfortable.

When do foreigners use cabs?

When do foreign visitors to Japan use cabs? Here we will explain when foreign visitors to Japan use cabs. Please refer to it when welcoming foreign guests and when traveling within Japan.


The first gateway for foreign visitors to Japan is the airport. Japan has relatively well-developed access from airports, with trains and buses as means of communication.

However, foreigners who are tired after a long trip may want to take a cab to get around in comfort.

Even if the place you are staying is somewhat far away, a cab is recommended if you want to get around comfortably. This is because Japanese trains are often crowded and the conditions may not be comfortable.

Foreigners should know that they will need a cab at the airport.


Cabs are also needed at hotels where visiting foreigners stay.

Cabs are also needed to get to destinations and back to the hotel, and in many cases, a cab will be convenient for sightseeing after breakfast at the hotel.

If you will be using your hotel as a base for transportation, it is a good idea to arrange for a hotel with a cab service or a hired car. If you do so, let the hotel know that you are arranging a cab so that they can guide you smoothly.

If you are looking for a hotel to stay at, please refer to this article.

tourist attraction

Cabs are also needed at tourist destinations. Even if you travel by train or other means to a tourist destination, you may still need to take a cab to your next destination.

While there are many cabs in the city center and you can get a ride by raising your hand, the same is not true in rural areas. You will need to have a cab dispatched or arranged in advance.

Keep in mind that if you are in a rural tourist area, arranging a cab in advance is very important.

For more information on recommended sightseeing spots in Tokyo, please refer to this article.

Types of Taxis for Foreigners

There are several types of cabs, some of which are not suitable for foreigners. Here we will discuss cabs for foreigners.

When making arrangements in advance, it is good to remember to specify the type of car you want to use so that you can travel more comfortably.

One-box type

The typical cab suitable for foreigners is the one-box type cab.

Specifically, they are Alphard, Hiace, and others modified for cab use.

One reason why this is recommended is because of the large amount of luggage that foreigners carry. Most foreigners stay in Japan for a long period of time and have a lot of luggage. Therefore, since they may not be able to pack their luggage, the one-box type is recommended.

In addition, we often travel as a family unit, so a family of four will bring more than four suitcases.

It is best to ask in advance how many pieces of luggage you will need to carry if you are making arrangements, as one regular cab will not be able to carry them.

Japan Taxi (JPN TAXI)

Japan Taxi is a new cab model developed by Toyota to accommodate the increasing number of foreigners. This model, which is an improved version of the Sienta, is taller and can carry more luggage than a conventional cab.

Eventually, most cabs in Japan will switch to this type of vehicle.

If you are traveling with a small number of people, Japan Taxi will have no problem even if you have some luggage. A recommendation would be 3 people and 4 suitcases would be appropriate.

Sedan type is not suitable

The sedan type, which is a conventional cab, is not suitable for transporting foreigners.

If you are traveling with only 2 or 3 people, this is not a problem, but for families or groups with luggage, a sedan is not enough.

It may be necessary to take measures such as splitting the ride into several cars, so it is advisable to confirm in advance the number of people to be transported and their luggage.

If you want foreigners to move smoothly, you need to

Here are a few points to keep in mind to ensure a smooth trip for foreign visitors to Japan. These points are important when arranging cabs for your customers, so please keep them in mind.

Number of people and baggage

First, be sure to confirm the number of people in the cab and whether or not they have luggage.

For example, if you are told that four people are traveling from Tokyo to Narita Airport, be sure to check how many pieces of luggage they have. A normal cab with multiple suitcases and four foreigners will feel cramped.

The number of people and their luggage are important for comfortable transportation. We recommend that you always confirm this in advance.

Pre-assigning cars

Once you know the travel itinerary of a foreigner, you should make cab arrangements in advance. Even if you suddenly decide to call a cab, cabs may not be available during bad weather or events.

Reservations for cabs vary from company to company, but most accept reservations 7 days in advance. Since it varies from company to company, please check their websites.

Once you know the itinerary, arrange for a cab in advance.

Please refer to this article for smooth attendance.

Arrangement of private cab

If you want to provide smooth transportation for foreign visitors to Japan, we recommend renting out cabs. Cabs can be rented by the hour, eliminating the need to dispatch a cab each time.

It is also possible to specify the type of vehicle, such as a wagon or sedan, so that you can travel comfortably for long periods of time.

By arranging a private cab, you can travel in comfort and hassle-free.

Use Taxis to Enhance Your Visit to Japan|Summary

In this article, we have explained how to use cabs and what to look out for in order to provide comfortable transportation for foreign visitors to Japan.

If you want your foreign guests to have a smooth experience, arranging a cab is a must.

At Motenas Japan, we offer a variety of suggestions for cab arrangements and transportation. If you are worried about cab issues for foreigners, please feel free to contact us here.