Self Service Gas Stations Guide

A short guide for Japanese self service terminals

By Kevin Haase    - 3 min read

Japanese gas stations are famous for their service by helpful staff. There are occasions, though, when there is no service available or automated stations are uncrewed in the middle of the night. This is the time foreign motorists are confronted with the Japanese language only self-service terminals.

Although pretty self-explanatory, Japanese terminology or questions of topic regarding bonus cards might confuse the first time user. Your smartphone's translation software might also have a hard time due to the sometimes colorful fonts used on screens or lack of internet connection.

For these occasions, this guide shows the usual process to follow on most self-service terminals.

The showcase sample uses an ENOS Gas Station Setup
The showcase sample uses an ENOS Gas Station Setup

General Setup

The gas station terminals usually feature a touch screen that guides the customer through the process. There is usually no choice of language options. Several slots for credit cards, cash, and receipts are marked in Japanese and will light up in modern terminals to helpfully indicate which one to use. Also, most terminals feature audio instructions in Japanese.

This walkthrough follows a credit card payment for a full tank of regular fuel.

The interactive part of the terminal consists of a touch screen and several slots that light up when to be used.
The interactive part of the terminal consists of a touch screen and several slots that light up when to be used.

The Start Screen

On arrival, the terminal's touch screen usually displays an overview of pricing, sorted by fuel and payment means. Press the green start button "開始" (Ka-i-shi) to begin.

Close up of the start screen
Close up of the start screen

1. Payment Choice

The screen shows you some options regarding payment. From the displayed mix of member-, credit card or cash options, one usually chooses cash 現金 (Gen-kin) or credit card (クレジットカード).

There are several payment options to chose from
There are several payment options to chose from

2. Credit Card Confirmation

The screen acknowledges the inserted card. Remove your credit card from the slot.

The according slots to use are indicated on screen in Japanese and usually light up
The according slots to use are indicated on screen in Japanese and usually light up

3. Reward Point Cards

There might be a follow-up question on if you own a reward point card. As a tourist, you are most likely not to, so proceed with no.

Some companies ask for a member or reward points card. This is where the language barrier might confuse
Some companies ask for a member or reward points card. This is where the language barrier might confuse

4. Fuel Choice

There is usually the choice of High Octane, Regular, and Diesel Fuel. The buttons follow the same color code as the nozzles.

The usual three fuel choices
The usual three fuel choices

5. Amount Choice

Here you can either chose the amount of yen you would like to spend or the amount of liters.

Look out for the convenient "Full Tank" button.

Chose a liter or cash limit, or go for the full tank option
Chose a liter or cash limit, or go for the full tank option

6. Start Fueling

This screen confirms your choices and indicates which colored nozzle to use to fill up your car.

The screen indicates which nozzle has been activated
The screen indicates which nozzle has been activated

7. Fuel Nozzles

The nozzles follow the same color code as the fuel choice on the screen.

The color coded nozzles
The color coded nozzles

8. Receipt

Once you returned the nozzle, your receipt will be issued via the receipt slot.

Your receipt will be issued via the receipt slot
Your receipt will be issued via the receipt slot

9. Alternate Setups

Whatever brand of gas station you are stopping at, they usually follow the same setup in color coding and terms used.

Look out for these kanji and kana to navigate the self-service menus:

These are the terms to look out for at Japanese gas stations
These are the terms to look out for at Japanese gas stations

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Kevin Haase

Kevin Haase @kevin.haase

Loves roadtrips in Japan. More than 12.000 kilometres on Japanese roads on the clock and still counting. Currently lives in Frankfurt Germany. 

Join the discussion

Sander van Werkhoven 2 weeks ago
Did you win with the slot machine? :-)

Just wondering: is it either full service stations or self-service in Japan? Or are there also stations where you have to fill up your car yourself, but have to go inside the shop to pay (like in most of the world...)? I don't think I've ever noticed that. But then again, I've never driven a car in Japan....
Kevin Haase Author 2 weeks ago
I had to wake up an attendant at 2 a.m once because the terminal took my 5K Y in cash but gave me only Japanese screen content and no fuel. Pushing buttons didn't help. :D

And I have not won the slot machine, yet...
Gary Luscombe 2 weeks ago
An extremely useful guide! I always have a job figuring out how they work while my family sit in the car losing their patience. Hopefully next time I can follow this and surprise them with my sudden expertise!
Kevin Haase Author 2 weeks ago
Happy to be of help. I thought of things I would have liked as support on my first road trip in Japan and this guide came to mind.
Kim 3 weeks ago
This is fantastic! Love that you provided annotated photos - it makes it so easy to follow!
Kevin Haase Author 2 weeks ago
Thanks, Kim. Pictures say more than a thousand words.