Taxis are expensive, yet easy and reliable in Tokyo. The first 2km of the taxi ride will typically run you 710 Yen (almost USD 10), then you will pay about 80 Yen for each additional 274m ( about USD 1 for each 1/6 of a mile). If the taxi sits stationary in traffic, it will cost another 80 Yen for each two minutes. At night, between 11pm and 5am, it will cost you another 30 percent on top of the standard fare.
The lights on top of the taxi will let you know if it is available. Red lights mean occupied, and yellow lights mean off duty or on call. So if you see a taxi with no lights, it should be free. Just wave your hand to flag it down, as you would in most other cities of the world. When you get ready to enter the taxi, note the doors will open automatically. Tipping is not customary or expected in Japan.
There are no street addresses in Japan, so if you are traveling by taxi, you have to describe to the cabbie more or less where you want to go. (Our apartment, for example, might be described as "behind the twin towers of the Aoyama Station".) I listened to the dialogue between my daughter-in-law and our driver and had concluded that there was some uncertainty about our destination, although I could see a sort of GPS map displayed in the front seat. Sure enough, presently Mishu said something that amounted to, "Hey, I think you just drove past the office," and the cabbie, totally unrepentent, pulled over and helped us unload the stroller from the trunk. If you do not speak Japanese, it helps to print a map from the Internet and circle the environment where you want to go so that you can simply hand the visual aid to your driver.
I think that the taxi service in Japan has got to be one of the best in the world.
They are everywhere - just hail them down and often right outside your hotel. I used these alot and they were very cheap....met some really interesting people too - including the taxi driver that was thrilled I had come to his country and he was so happy I had eaten the food (not Mcdonalds) and loved the beer - I real advocate for Tokyo!
They are clean, efficient and drivers well mannered - and they know where EVERYWHERE is...could give a London cabbie a run for their money I am sure!
the expensive tokyo taxis! Tokyo taxi fares remain among the highest in the world. Most meters start running at ¥660 and after the first 2 km (1 mi) tick away at the rate of ¥80 every 274 meters (about 1/5 mi). Keep in mind that the ¥340 taxis (which are a very small percentage of those on the street) are only cheaper for trips of 2 km (1 mi) or less; after that the fare catches up with the ¥660 cabs. The ¥340 taxis have a sticker on the left-rear window. There is no bargaining or negotiating over prices; you pay the fare indicated on the meter. Another tokyo taxi tip, unless you are going to a well-known destination such as a major hotel, it's advisable to have a Japanese person write out your destination in Japanese. Drivers take you where you want to go by the shortest route they know and do not expect a tip. Tokyo cabbies are not, in general, a sociable species but you can always count on a minimum standard of courtesy. And if you forget something in the cab—a camera, a purse—your chances of getting it back are almost 100%.
A JR pass can be used for JR coaches too. But only on a few routes. For instance, I tried to catch an overnight coach fro Kyoto to Yokohama once, and that wasn't allowed. So I had to take the bus to Tokyo instead.
Usually, those who have got a JR pass will use it to catch a bullet or express train instead, which saves time. But say, you want to see Tokyo for a full day, and be in Kyoto the next, then the overnight coach will work well (assuming you can sleep well on the bus) and you will even save on 1 nights' accommodation.
When I caught the overnight coach from Kyoto to Tokyo, I only got my ticket at about 6pm in the evening for the midnight coach, so last minute tickets are possible as long as the ticketing counter is still open.
Without a JR pass, the buses are a cheaper option too.
Whilst Tokyo has a very good and very extensive train network, there is also a very extensive bus network as well.
As long as you know where you're going, buses can get you between some points more conveniently than the train.
About 10 years ago I went from Narita to a city that was about 20 min. away. The fare was about 22000 Yen, about $200 USD! I asked the engineer who picked me up if I was reading the meter correctly. He said yes. I said that he should tell the taxi driver that we just want to rent the car, not buy it. The engineer had used a taxi to get to the airport too. Total cost about $400! I am glad I was not paying.
Last trip, I took the bus. It was fast and simple to use. Buy a ticket and go outside and stand under the sign. The bus will come at the exact appointed time with an destination sign and there will someone standing there with basic English skills to help you.
The difficulty about Tokyo, Besides the vast area, is the absense of proper street names and addresses the way we are used to in Europe and elsewhere. Instead they have the ku and the chome etc info. So getting around can be difficult at times. Take a taxi, is my advice. And note, the taxis have doors which open and close automatically.
This tip should be the most important, number 1!!! When taking a taxi never try to open the door, the door opens automatically and after you are in shuts automatically. Please dont make japanese taxi drivers upset trying to manhandle it yourself:))
i didnt because read about that "custom" in multiple travelguides and had the greatest respect from taxi drivers!
Buses : It can an be rather tricky to use the buses at first because of the signs being in Japanese so unless you can familiarize yourself with the numerous routes, you might want to find another way. Shibuya has a major bus station and buses from here will travel in most directions. Timetables are displayed at each stop and buses are usually on time. For trying to see as much as you can in a short time, then I would suggest an organised tour with one of the local Tour Companies.
Travelling to Tokyo, we took the bus/coach from Kyoto. Took us thru some pretty scenic places, hills and green countryside etc. The odd thing for me was that the highway rarely looped around the hills on winding roads, like i`m used to when i go up into the hills in India, the highway here would almost always be drilled right thru the hill. Long tunnels- made for a quick pace, but robbed the journey of some of its charm.
Travel time Kyoto to Tokyo- 8 hours, with one stop somewhere mid way.
Japan is well known for its fantastic train system, but the bus can also provide good transport at a more economical cost.
eg. Osaka to Tokyo for as little as 4,300 yen (4,800 in peak season). This bus travels overnight so a saving on accomodation is also a benefit.
Ask the tourist information offices for more info on other bus deals.
Unless in an emergency situation please do not take a taxi around Tokyo. Tokyo's taxi fares are well-known to be exorbitant.
Tokyo is well-connected and well-served by trains and subways so make good use of them. Get yourself a copy of the train and subway map from any of the Japan Tourism Offices to familiarise yourself with its complexity and intricacies.
Cabs are generally plentiful in Tokyo, and available throughout 24 hours.
Flag down fare is usually 660 yen (about USD 6.60), but there are some cab companies who will flag down at 650 yen or even 620 yen.
For short trips around 5 mins, it should not get past the flag down fare. But anything more than that, and the meter jumps quickly. So if you can still get on the train, recommend that you choose that over the cabs.
The cabs are safe and clean, but the drivers generally don't speak English, so rule of thumb is to carry the Japanese address of your destination (esp your hotel), or better still, a map.
General infos about taxi;
It is beginning from 660Yen and a bit expensive to compare to other metropolitans. The driver do not speak any foreign langueage never! and they could be even inpolite since you are foreigner. However in general if you show the map and (not or) the palce name written in japanese, you will not have problem. The door is controlled by driver do not try to open/close it.