Kyoto is probably one of the easiest city in the world in which to take a taxi.
You can find a taxi just about everywhere, outside most train stations, bus terminals and some larger shops. You can also flag taxis on just about any street in the city.
As up to four persons (sometimes five in larger cars) can ride for the same price, it is sometimes a better deal to take a taxi compared to the bus or the train.
To take a taxi, just flag it as you would at home: just raise your hand at an oncoming taxi. To know if a taxi is available, check if you see someone inside on the back seat. Also, if a taxi is free and available, the sign (light) on the lower left corner of the windshield will be red. The same will be blue if the taxi is not available. At night, it’s easy to spot an open taxi: the light on the roof will be illuminated.
Be careful as in Japan, the driver will open the door for you (the rear one on the left of the car). There is no need to open it yourself. Do not worry as most drivers in Kyoto know enough English to understand where you want to go, but it always helps to have someone write your destination in Japanese.
Japanese taxi drivers are polite, usually efficient and above all honest. They will always turn on the meter and you do not have to worry about “being taken for a ride.” The meter will show the fare.
No need of tips. if you want to reserve a taxi for a special visit or anything else, here are two companies:
Yasaka Taxi: http://www.yasaka.jp/english/index.html
MK Taxi: http://www.mktaxi-japan.com/