If your luggage is too heavy or you are just too tired, then why not take a taxi? Taxis are easy to find in Kanazawa, and if there are two or more in your group they can also be economical. The base fare for a small taxi in Kanazawa is 690 yen and this goes up by 80 yen for every 277 meters. It will probably cost you under 1000 yen to get from Kanazawa Station to any of the city’s main locations.
The Ishikawa Taxi Association has put together a handy chart of estimated taxi fares and travel times for all the major locations in Kanazawa. This is a useful reference chart, but you should remember that fares may differ for each taxi company and at night (from 22.00 – 5.00am) the fares increase by 20%.
You should also remember that taxi fares increase with the size of the taxi. There are three basic sizes in Japan: small (kogata 小型), medium (chugata 中型), and large (ogata 大型). Basically the bigger the taxi means the higher the fare. A small kogata taxi can seat four people, but if you have more people in your group you will either need a bigger taxi or another vehicle.
Where to Get a Taxi
There are two taxi ranks at Kanazawa Station on the east and west side of the building. At other locations it is easy to hail a taxi on the street. At taxi ranks, the taxis line up and customers board them in the order they become available. For this reason, when boarding at a taxi rank, you cannot choose a particular taxi company. This probably won’t be a problem, but when hailing a taxi on the street, you might want to pick out the better companies. Two taxi companies in Kanazawa that we have always found to have reliable, polite, and helpful service are Fuji and Kintetsu.
Fuji taxis are easy to spot because of their bright yellow color. Kintetsu taxis are white with a blue lamp on top.
Both Fuji and Kintetsu have English information on their websites and you can also book their taxis for tours of the city. An English speaking guide for a Kintetsu taxi costs 5000 yen per hour. Fuji taxis will send you a quote for the cost of your tour after you have contacted them with your preferred details.
Basic Taxi Etiquette & Payment
- Hailing a taxi is easy. Just raise your hand and wave for a taxi as you would in your home country. If there is a green light in the passenger’s side window, the taxi is already occupied. If there is a red light, then the taxi is available. At night, a light on top of the taxi shows that the taxi is vacant.
- Most taxi drivers cannot speak English. It’s a good idea to show them a map to your destination, or to have the address written down in Japanese.
- Don’t open or close the doors! In Japan the rear doors of taxis open and close automatically. You don’t need to open and close them yourself. In fact it is better not to.
- Trust your driver! All taxi cabs have meters, and taxi drivers are generally honest, so you don’t need to worry about being cheated.
- Don’t tip! Tipping is unusual in Japan and if you try to tip you will probably confuse your driver. Simply pay the fare shown on the meter.
- Be ready to pay in cash. Not all taxis accept credit cards, so it is best to have some cash ready to pay your fare. If you wish to pay with a credit card, you should check with your driver that your card is acceptable before the journey begins.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.