Easy Japanese for Taxis
So, you’ve just finished a marathon shopping spree and the prospect of lugging your spoils across Tokyo on foot doesn’t sound all that appealing to you. You need a taxi and some useful Japanese phrases to help you navigate like an expert.
Let’s start with the most important phrase you’ll need to take a taxi.
_____までお願いします。( _____made onegaishimasu.)
Please take me to _____.
Simply add the name of the place you want at the beginning of this expression. For example, if you wanted to go to Shibuya, you would say:
渋谷までお願いします。(Shibuya made onegaishimasu.)
Please take me to Shibuya.
Alternatively, if you have a map or a business card of the place you want to go, you can point and say:
ここまでお願いします。(Koko made onegaishimasu.)
Please take me to this place.
This is especially useful when you are having difficulty getting the driver to understand. For example, hotels with Western names are pronounced slightly differently in Japanese, which can cause confusion.
Once you arrive at your destination you can say:
ここで下ろしてください。(Koko de oroshite kudasai.)
Please let me off here.
Alternatively you could say:
ここでいいです。(Koko de ii desu.)
Here is fine.
Your taxi driver will then tell you the fare (which will also be displayed on the meter), and if you need a receipt you can say:
A receipt, please.
And don’t forget to thank the taxi driver when you leave by saying:
Thank you very much.
Let’s put all that together for a typical conversation in a taxi:
A: 渋谷までお願いします。 (A: Shibuya made onegaishimasu.)
(a while later…)
A: ここでいいです。 (A: Koko de ii desu.)
B: 1500円になります。 (B: Sen gohyaku en ni narimasu.)
A: では2000円からお願いします。 (A: Dewa, nisen en kara onegaishimasu.)
B: 2,000円からですね。 (B: Ni sen en kara desu ne.)
500円のおつりになります。 (Go hyaku en no otsuri ni narimasu.)
A: ありがとうございます。 (A: Arigatō gozaimasu.)
A: To Shibuya, please.
(A while later…)
A: Here is OK.
B: That’ll be ¥1,500.
A: Here’s ¥2,000.
B: OK, from ¥2,000, your change is ¥500.
A: Thank you.
Top Taxi Tips
1) Always carry a business card of the hotel you are staying at or the address of your residence written in Japanese in case the taxi driver doesn’t quite understand your directions.
2) You generally don’t tip taxi drivers, as the service is included in the fare. If you are feeling generous you can say: おつりはいりません。(Otsuri wa irimasen or keep the change.)
3) Although you can usually use a credit card, it’s better to have cash, and it’s best to carry small bills if possible.
4) The basic taxi fare (初乗りor hatsunori) starts from ¥710 in the Tokyo area.
5) The back door on the left always opens automatically so you don’t need to touch it.
6) If you aren’t good with numbers in Japanese, it shouldn’t be a problem as the price is written on the receipt.
7) Three useful kanji to know are:
賃走 (chinsō): Occupied (written in red)
空走 (kuusō): Available (written in green)
割増 (warimashi): 20 percent increase in price, usually after 11 p.m.
For more useful Japanese learning materials, including PDF cheat sheets and podcasts, please visit Learn Japanese Pod.
Photos by Toshihiro Oimatsu and Louisville. Featured photo by megawheel360.
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