May 22, 2018

How to fill up your tank in Japan

If you clicked this link because you’re new to the country and apprehensive about those basic tasks that seem all the more challenging in a foreign land with a completely different language, don’t worry, that’s completely normal. The thing is, one of the toughest challenges of adjusting to a new country is realizing that basic tasks are no longer basic when you throw in different ways of doing things and a foreign language, so allow me to walk you through this weekly or monthly chore.

How to fill up your tank in Japan photo

Common Japanese Gas Stations

You'll see a variety of Gas Stations, but if you're trying to find it on a smart phone map, search for any of the following:

- Eneos

- Esso

- Shell

- JA SS (Japan Agriculture)


Most Japanese gas stations are full service. You can find self-service pumps at some places, but that is not the norm. If you chance upon a self-service pump, the instructions are pretty straightforward—insert card or cash, select type of gas, fill up, return nozzle, done.

If you go to a full service station, here’s what you should expect:

1) The attendant will usher you in. An attendant should be waiting to direct you to the appropriate pump (which are overhead in most Japanese gas stations).

2) The attendant will come to your window and ask what kind of gas and how much you want. Simply tell him/her “regular,” “premium,” or “diesel” depending on your vehicle type and preference. State the amount you want put in (usually in 1000 yen increments), or say “Man-tan” (pronounced “Mahn-tahn”) if you want a full tank. Be sure to say whether you intend to pay in cash (gen-kin, pronounced “Gen-keen”) or card (kādo, pronounced kah-do). If paying card, you typically hand over the card right at the beginning.

3) The attendant will usually ask for your trash. Hand him/her whatever trash you may have accumulated.   If you have a bag, that's best, but don't worry about separating plastics from burnables, etc.

4) The attendant will hand you a cloth. That cloth is meant for you to wipe down your dashboard and steering wheel, or any dirty passengers (okay, so not the passengers).

How to fill up your tank in Japan photo

5) The attendant(s) will wipe down your car. Expect that the attendant will wipe your windshield, all the windows, and your sideview mirrors.

6) Pay the cash or receive your card and a receipt for signature. Make sure to hand back the cleaning cloth while you’re at it.

7) Head on out. The attendant will direct you off the premises, and if in a contested area, will actually step out to direct traffic for you.

Do you have any questions about gas stations in Japan?  Feel free to use the comments section below!



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).