Thanks to Japan's efficient public transportation, taxis are often both a unnecessary and expensive means of transport, especially in Japan's larger cities. But once trains and buses stop operating around midnight, taxis are often the only way of transport. And during weekends and popular events, long lines and waiting times at taxi stands at train stations are not uncommon.
In the countryside and smaller cities, like rural Kyoto, where public transportation tends to be less convenient, makes taking a taxi from the nearest train station to your destination a good alternative to a long walk. And if you are traveling in smaller groups, grabbing a taxi may also be your cheapest option on shorter distances.
To find a taxi either go to a taxi stand, usually found in front of train stations and hotels, or you can simple flag one down at a location where it is safe for it to stop, provided it is vacant. You can tell if a taxi is vacant by looking at its plate in the lower corner of its windshield. If it reads 空車 (kusha) in red it means its vacant and in service, while 賃走 (chinsou) in green means it's occupied. You may also call a taxi by phone or via your hotel reception. There are also some free taxi hailing apps for smartphones, although car sharing services such as Uber are not legal and thus unavailable in Japan.
Japan Taxi Application is a smart and easy gadget to order a taxi with direct control and GPS function of smartphone. Can currently be used in 47 prefectures with 22,756 cars available from 129 different taxi companies.