To the average cost conscious traveler in Japan's large cities. taxis are an expensive and unnecessary alternative to the efficient public transportation. However, taxis are often the only way of getting around once trains and buses stop operating around midnight, resulting in a sudden increase in their demand, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, when long lines and waiting times at taxi stands at train stations are not uncommon.
In smaller cities, the countryside and in Kyoto. public transportation tends to be less convenient, thus taking a taxi from the nearest train station to your destination can be a good alternative. If you travel in groups of three or more people, taxis can also be an economical option on shorter distances.
How to use a
To hail a taxi, either go to a taxi stand (usually located in front of train stations) or flag one down at a location where it is safe for it to stop. A plate on the dashboard in the lower corner of the windshield indicates whether a taxi is vacant or not. Usually, a red plate indicates that the taxi is vacant, while a green plate indicates the opposite (see illustration below). During the night a light on the roof of a taxi can indicate that the taxi is vacant. You can also call a taxi by phone or via your hotel reception; in large cities there is usually no additional charge for calling a taxi while in more rural areas a small fee may be charged.Source: www.japan-guide.com