Blog / Travel

Driving in Japan: Filling up the Tank


Driving in an unfamiliar country takes a little getting used to as even simple things like refuelling the car can be different to how you do it at home. Luckily, buying fuel in Japan is pretty straightforward and you’ll find service stations located frequently along toll and non-toll roads, all over the country.

There are quite a few gas companies in Japan including Eneos, Shell and Cosmos without a great deal of price variation between them. Fuel was always more expensive in remote areas as could be expected.

Most Japanese service stations have attendants so you won’t even need to exit the car when filling up which is absolutely lovely in the freezing weather!

Here’s what to do when you need to fill up:

  • Drive in and follow the direction of the service station attendants on where to pull your car up to the pump.
  • Tell the attendant what type of gas you need, in our case it was just known as ‘regular’ (our petrol cap also had a sticker saying regular in Japanese which was handy).
  • Let them know how much petrol you want, ie. full tank which we conveyed with very crude Jenglish as “furu” (full), or in actual Japanese, ‘mantan ni shite kudasai’ (fill it up please). You can also elect to fill only a certain monetary amount- sen (1000 yen), nisen (2000 yen) and so on.
  • You will need to state which payment method you will use – cash (genkin) or ‘cardo’. If paying by card, the attendant will take your card for preauthorisation on their machine and then return it to you before fuelling your car.
  • During fuelling, its normal for attendants to wipe down your windscreen and windows and they may also hand you a damp towel to clean the inside of your windows which you need to return to them afterwards.
  • After fuelling, you will either need to sign the card payment receipt or hand over your cash, receive your final payment receipt and you’re done. At some stations, the service will extend to the attendant directing you safely back out into the traffic.

If you go to a self-service gas station you will need to navigate your way around an electronic payment system at the pump prior to filling up. This involves selecting the type of fuel, how much fuel you want and payment method through a series of buttons. If you’re lucky, there will be an ‘English’ option to help you through. If not, your best bet is probably to call over an attendant and relay the information above so they can press the buttons for you.



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