Driving tips in Japan: Gas Stations

gas station

photo by Michael Salib

Have you ever been startled by a gas station staff running straight up to your car when you dropped by a gas station to top up fuel in Japan? While self-service gas stations are dominant in many countries, majority of gas stations in Japan still provide good full services. Your car is fully topped up while you just sit and wait on the driver’s seat. But, to have such a full service at a gas station, you must be able to communicate with staff in Japanese. This column will introduce how to ask for a service at a gas station and some useful words and phrases.


Type of fuel used in Japan

There are three types of fuel used in Japan: Regular gasoline (レギュラー), High-octane gasoline(ハイオク) or Diesel(軽油). Use of leaded petrol is not allowed in Japan. Under Japanese Industrial Standard, octane rating of gasoline must be 89.0 or above for Regular and 96.0 or above for High-octane respectively. High-octane gasolines commonly sold in Japan normally have 98-100 octane rating regardless of brands. There are only two types of gasoline sold in Japan. Med-grade gasoline with octane rating 95 or similar, which is sold in many other countries, is not available in Japan. Diesel fuel is called “Keiyu (軽油) “in Japan.


Ordering service at Japanese gas station

At a full service gas station, a staff fill up your car in the following steps. Majority of stations regardless of companies follow the similar steps.

  1. Once you enter the station, a staff comes out and guide your where to bring the car. Stop as the staff gives you a sign. 
  2. Lower driver side window and the station staff will ask you what type of fuel you want to fill: Regular gasoline, High-octane gasoline or Diesel. Also, tell the staff if you want to fully fill up or pump up for certain amount, for example, for a certain amount of money worth or quantity by liter. 
  3. While your car is getting filled, the staff cleans the windshield, door mirrors and ashtray, and gives you a cloth to clean the dashboard. 
  4. Once your car is filled, you will be asked the payment method, normally to choose from cash or credit card. 
  5. After payment, the staff will ask you which direction you are going and guide you to get back on the road.


Useful words and phrases

  • Regula (meaning “Regular”): Unleaded petrol with octane rating of RON89.0 or above
  • Hi-oku (meaning “High-octane”): Unleaded petrol with octane rating of RON96.0 or above
  • Kei-yu: Diesel fuel 
  • Man-tan: to fill up
  • ○○Yen-bun: to fill up a certain amount of money worth. E.g. 3000 Yen-bun meaning 3000 yen worth.
  • ○○Littoru (meaning “○○Liter”): to fill up a certain quantity in liter. E.g. 30 Littoru meaning 30 liter. 
  • Gen-kin: Cash. Staff asks “Gen-kin to Kurejito-caadoh dochira de oshiharai desuka?”
  • Kurejito-Caadoh: Credit card. 
  • Mige/Hidari: Right/Left. Staff will guide you to the direction you want to go.

For example, if the staff asks you gasoline type “Regula desuka? Hi-oku desuka?”, you would answer either of 

  1. “Hi-oku (or Regula) man-tan.” 
  2. “Hi-oku (or Regula) 3000yen-bun.”
  3. “Hi-oku (or Regula) 30 Littoru.”


Don’t forget to turn the car off

Japanese full service station is often compared to F1 pit stop. No time is wasted there. They fill your car, clean windshield and even ashtray while you do nothing except for waiting. Some stations have fuel hoses hanging from the ceiling and often surprise foreign visitors from countries that self-service stations are dominant. One downside is that you need to learn names of gasoline or other words and phrases in Japanese to communicate with shop staff. Fortunately, there are not so many words to memorize, so using a full service gas station wouldn’t be so difficult after all.


Related Article:
Three options for foreigners to drive a motor vehicle in Japan
Check before driving! Traffic offences in Japan 
Driver license: Procedures to update residential address when moving house
Driving tips in Japan: Car parks
Driving tips in Japan: General roads
Driving tips in Japan: Toll roads
Driving tips in Japan: Car accident
Driving tips in Japan: Traffic ticket
Unlimited use of expressways! Japan Expressway Pass for foreign tourists
Touring Japan by car: Rental-car guide for tourists
Best for driving trip! Regional expressway passes
Stuck on the road? Call JAF for roadside assistance
If you are buying a car in Japan: Guide to Japanese car insurance
What are insured? Check this before hiring a car in Japan
Japanese people no longer into owning cars? Car sharing in Japan
BRRR-lliant holiday in Japan! Rental motor bike
Comfortable camping in winter! Renting campervan in Japan
Get first driver license in Japan! Driving lessons in English
Selling a car? Get your car transported





あきらことほ Kotoho Akira

Living outside Japan for a good many years, I often rediscover nice little things about this country every time I return here. I would be more than happy if this column may help you find your "nice little things about Japan"!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>