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In many big cities, Uber is the go-to app for cheap and easy travel, ride-sharing, and even food delivery. However, in Tokyo, you’ll notice that using the Uber app for rides isn’t as common as you’d think. In short, yes, you can use Uber in Tokyo, but mostly to hail a taxi. But, more often than not, stopping a random taxi on the street might be faster (and sometimes cheaper) than requesting a taxi via the ubiquitous app.
Uber is relatively new to Japan, and as a result, its network isn’t the largest. Only in 2020 did it decide to partner with three major taxi firms in Tokyo to widen its coverage. Even so, Uber is not always the cheapest option.
The cheapest Uber ride is with Uber Taxi, which charges you the same fee as a general taxi (¥500 for the first 1.096 km) plus ¥437 for every kilometre thereafter. What makes it slightly more expensive is that you have to add on an extra base fee for pick-up. When we looked up a price estimate on Uber, the recent base fee for a ride in Tokyo came out to ¥129.
On the other hand, if you opt for the fancier Uber Black or an Uber Black Van, the price for your ride will be a lot more than Uber Taxi. The minimum booking fare for Uber Black is ¥823 per ride plus an additional ¥72 per minute of waiting time (when the car stands still, like at a traffic light) and ¥304 per kilometre. There's also a base fare of ¥103.
However, there is still a plus side of using Uber Taxi in Tokyo, especially as a foreigner with limited Japanese language skills. Firstly, you can book your ride to your destination via the app, and it's all in English. Additionally, your transactions are cashless, so you don’t have to worry about fumbling with bills and change.
If you want to pre-book a cab like the locals do, you can also use the Go app. This app is more widespread than Uber and can be used in all 47 prefectures. However, Go does charge a pick-up and arrangement fees depending on the area you are travelling.