[solved] 空車: What does 'open taxi' even mean? (+ Japanese colour code: green = occupied, red = vacant)

Hi guys!

As I’m from the Netherlands, English is not my native language. I’ve never heard of the concept of open taxis, so not even knowing what the translation of 空車 means does not seem very helpful.
I wanted to ask if someone could explain to me the concept! Is it like free taxis? or taxis with an open roof?
Furthermore, as I type くうしゃ my keyboard’s Japanese language tab (no other way to describe it) gives me, other than the kanji suggestion 空車, also this symbol which I’ve seen on my phone: :u7a7a:
I’m very curious as to what it stands for, as I don’t think the meaning sky would need a symbol on Whatsapp haha.

Have a great day everyone,
and thanks for the help to those willing to explain !!
ありがと みな :)


Since sky also means empty I assumed it meant an empty car, or a free taxi.


It just means the taxi is not currently carrying customers, so is available.


Breaking down the kanji into their separate meanings usually helps. 空いている車 (empty/vacant car)


Thanks for the pic: I’ll defo not forget that one ever!


I found it funny when I was watching a let’s play video where the let’s player accidentally read 空スロット as そらスロット (sky slot) and not からスロット (empty slot) when referring to the save slots!

Same kanji different readings and meanings :slight_smile:


facepalms I find it very difficult to learn the multiple meanings as one is always sufficient to pass the word/kanji. It makes a lot of sense now though, thank you


too bad that the meaning explainations of 空車 only uses sky to explain the meaning open taxi. empty taxi -> available taxi would have been more clear. Nevertheless it’s also my bad


One thing that’s always bugged me about Japan is the fact that vacant taxis have a red sign up, while occupied taxis have a green one.


I’m from Hungary and of course English is not my native language neither. I was wondering about the meaning of this word too. So thank you all the answer. Now it’s clear to me.


I was glad for this vocabulary when I was in 京都. I saw it all over.
@Belthazar the red/green thing really gets me too.


空 means not just sky but empty too. If I remember correctly with this meaning it is read から.

Well, in this case it’s on’yomi, so it’s くうしゃ (though it can also be read as からぐるま).


That red/green switcheroo is somewhat common in East Asia. For example in the stock market red titles are gaining while green ones are losing value. I suppose red has a more positive connotation than in the West, culturally speaking.


Good to know! So if I send a traffic light coded table to colleagues in Japan, only the amber coloured cells will have the same meaning? We do this a lot at work: green is a go/on time/safe and red is a no/late/unsafe etc… Our minds are so used to these conventions it would be hard to switch/reprogram the brain.

I’ll certainly keep it in mind.

@Luuk01234 sorry for derailing your thread, here’s a kitten:

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But, actual traffic lights still have the same meaning. And I’m pretty sure that for public bathroom stalls, green = vacant, red = occupied…

That’s fine, the kitten has soothed the pain :durtle_yellow_rodent:

No,just kidding, my question actually resulted in quite some useful information for when I’ll japan one day

Are the traffic lights green or blue?

They are あお (which can mean either!.. but means green in traffic lights)


No one could decide my eye colour at the consulate so it says “blue green” on my passport. Guess

would have worked in Japan!