If you have a lot of luggage or your hotel is some distance from the station, then you may need to take a taxi. Taxis are easy to find in Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen, because there are taxi stands outside all the stations. The bad news is that taking a taxi in these areas is not cheap. However, if you are traveling in a group of two or more people then you will be able to split the cost between you. The base fare for a standard sized car in Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen is 740 yen for the first 2 kilometers. After that the fare goes up by 90 yen every 276 meters. To get to the Toshogu Shrine from Tobu Nikko Station will probably cost you around 1,180 yen.
Taxi fares will differ according to the size of the car. There are three basic sizes in Tochigi Prefecture: standard (futsu-sha 普通車), large (ogata-sha 大型車), and extra-large (tokudai-sha 特大車). If you take a larger car, the fare will be more expensive. A standard sized taxi can seat four people, but if you have more people in your group you will need either a bigger taxi or another vehicle. There is also a late-night fee which is charged between 22.00 and 5.00. During this period fares increase by 20%.
Getting a Taxi
There are taxi ranks outside JR Nikko Station, Tobu Nikko Station, and Kinugawa-Onsen Station. At taxi ranks, the taxis line up and customers board them as they become available. At other locations you can easily hail a taxi by raising your hand. Vacant taxis have a red sign saying 空車 at the front of the car. If a taxi is occupied, the sign will be green and say 賃走. These signs are illuminated, so they are easy to spot.
Nikko Kotsu Taxis
There a number of taxi companies operating in the Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen area, however, one of the biggest and most reliable is Nikko Kotsu. You can book a taxi with Nikko Kotsu by calling 0288-54-1188 between the hours of 7.00 and 23.00. All Nikko Kotsu taxis are equipped with a GPS system so that they can easily find your destination. Nikko Kotsu also provide sightseeing taxi tours in the Nikko and Kinugawa areas. For more details please check the Nikko Kotsu English language website.
How to Use a Japanese Taxi
- The rear door of the taxi is remote controlled by the driver and will open and close for you automatically. For this reason you shouldn’t try to open and close the door yourself.
- Your fare will be indicated on a meter beside the driver. Taxi drivers are generally honest so you don’t need to worry about being cheated.
- There is no need to tip the driver, as tipping is not expected in Japan. You should just pay the fare on the meter.
- Most taxi drivers can’t speak English, so prepare a map to your destination, or have the address written down in Japanese.
- Some taxis accept credit cards, but you should check that your card is acceptable before the journey begins. In case you can’t use a card, you should have some cash ready to pay your fare.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.