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Getting Fuel

Getting Gasoline

Getting gas in Japan can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area and the language. You may be wondering where gas stations are located, how to pump gas, or even what words you should know to communicate effectively. In this blog post, we will address many of these concerns, making your fueling up a smooth and non-stressful experience. 

Finding a Gasoline Station

So, you’re on the road and suddenly your tank alerts you that it is almost empty. You have no idea where you are or where the nearest gas station is. What do you do?

The solution is actually incredibly simple. Google maps is going to be your best bet. In Japanese, the word for the gas station is  ガソリンスタンド.  In English, phonetically, it is, “gasorinsutando”, but you can also try searching “gas station” in English… even that should give you some results.

All you would need to do is simply search this on Google maps, and it will direct you to the nearest station. 

What Types of gasoline Stations are in Japan?

In Japan, you have a choice of two different types of stations. The first is a self-serve gas station. These are exactly what they sound like; you must pump the gas yourself. They can be determined by large signs in front that say, “セルフ (serufu)”. This is a good option for those who are in a rush or are not super confident with their Japanese language skills.  Another option and the option most commonly found in Japan is a full-service station. These are operated by attendants who will fill up your tank for you. You should be aware though that these are slightly more expensive than self-serving stations.

Choosing your Type of Gas

When you get to the pump, there will be three separate nozzles to choose from. The red pump means regular gas, the yellow is high octane, and the green is diesel. At a full-service station, you will have to inform the attendant which grade of gasoline you want to fuel up with. For information on how to communicate this, refer to the vocabulary section of this blog post.  

How to Pay

At gas stations, you will have the option of paying with cash or with a card. If you are at a full-service station, the attendant will ask you how you would like to pay. If you are at a self-service station, you will pay at the pump itself. 

Helpful Vocabulary 

Self-service gas stations in Japan often have English menu options; however, full-service stations require some communication between the attendant and customer. If you aren’t familiar with Japanese, this can be a bit overwhelming. However, by having a rough understanding of gas station terminology, your experience will be a lot less strenuous.  

Regular Gas: レギュラー (regular)

Premium Gas: ハイオク (haioku)

Diesel: けいゆ (keiyu)

Full Gas:まんたん (mantan)

Liter:リットル (rittoru)

Paying with cash: genkin desu

Paying with credit: kurejitto kaado de


Avid camper, family of 5, long term resident of Japan and founder of Dream Drive