If you have lived in Japan without a car, chances are good you've been stuck somewhere before.
Japan has, for the most part, a useful public transportation system. Bullet trains zoom all over the country. Local trains service even more areas, while buses transport people in both cities and the countryside.
And yet, sometimes buses aren't accessible. Sometimes the train station is too far. And sometimes you need to go somewhere with luggage or a box or just don't want to brave another downpour.
You can call a friend and ask for a ride, but if your friend is busy, you'll need an alternative: call a taxi.
Most city train stations, and even some smaller ones, have taxis sitting outside waiting to take passengers wherever they need to go. But if you want one to pick you up at home, or from another location, you'll need to call for one.
How to Find a Taxi
There are several ways, but here are four:
a) Next time you're at the train station nearest your home, check for a phone number on the taxis sitting outside of the station. Make a new contact in your cell phone with this number.
b) Search for タクシー (takushii) plus your city name online. The results should show a few places you can call.
c) Search a site such as taxitaxi.jp or taxisite.com. The sites are in Japanese, but fairly easy to use. Click on the prefecture you're in. On the page that opens, click on the city. Sometimes you may also need to click on a ward. A list of taxi companies will show up--you can try any of these (and put one or more into your cell phone contacts so you have them handy).
d) Alternatively, if you're at a place of business, you might be able to request someone there to call a taxi for you. Hotels will do this for you (if you're a guest). Say, "タクシーをよんでください" (takushii o yonde kudasai).
How to Call a TaxiOnce you have the taxi number, dial it and when someone answers, say (in Japanese):
Omukae ni kite moraemasu ka?
Could you come pick me up?
They should say yes and ask for your address, which might sound something like:
住所はどこですか。Tell them your address in Japanese (or the address of where you're at, or a significant place in the area).
Juusho wa doko desu ka?
What is your address or from where do you want to get picked up?
In response, they should say something along the lines of OK and then most likely:
今からお迎えに来ます。They might give you a time estimate as to when they will arrive.
Ima kara omukae ni kimasu.
I'm on my way to get you.
That's it. The conversation might vary slightly, but you can also say that you don't understand Japanese or don't speak it well, or to repeat something if necessary.
How to Get Where You're GoingOnce you're in the taxi, the driver might ask "どちらへ？" (dochira e?) or "どちらへいきますか?" (dochira e ikimasu ka?)
Tell them (or show them) where you want to go. You can say the name plus "おねがいします" (onegaishimasu).
If you show them an address, you can say "ここへ行ってください" (koko e itte kudasai).
If the place isn't well-known, they might ask for nearby landmarks or you might need to give some simple directions after they find the neighborhood or general location. Some of the Japanese phrases below might help:
Turn right here, please.
Koko de migi ni magatte kudasai.
Turn left here, please.
Koko de hidari ni magatte kudasai.
Go straight, please.
Massugu itte kudasai.
It's next to _______.Example:
_______no tonari ni arimasu.
Kouban no tonari ni arimasu.
It's next to the police station.
It's across from _______.
_______ no mukai ni arimasu.
It's near _______.
_______no chikaku ni arimasu.
Here is fine.
Koko de ii desu.
And now, despite the expensive fares, you should be able to get where you're going or do what you need to do.
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