Travelling around Japan can be quite overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. Navigating the transport system, finding somewhere to eat and trying to break through the language barrier can be quite tricky.
This is where travel apps come in handy but which ones should you download? There are so many Japan travel apps out there but trust me, you need very few of them. Luckily for you, I tried and tested so many travel apps during my time living and travelling in Japan.
In this post, you will find the absolute best Japan travel apps that you should absolutely download prior to your visit to Japan.
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Table of Contents
Navitime is one of the best Japan travel apps – it is a pocket guide book in app form which will guide you on every step of your journey in Japan.
Navitime provides comprehensive information about how to get around Japan efficiently, an introduction to the capital’s transportation network, and helpful travel and culture guides.
One of the most helpful features of the app is that it can help you to create your own itinerary by recommending spots including the estimated time and costs.
Japan Travel Guide Offline
The Japan Travel Guide Offline is the highest rated app in Japan since it was first released in 2014.
This app can be used offline and will provide you with a detailed guide for places such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Sapporo. The app will also recommend articles around the region in relation to your current location.
Information provided by the app include get around guides, phrase lists, warnings on how to stay safe and healthy, restaurants and hotel recommendations, local costs and taxes and road rules.
You can also save places to your favourites and create your own custom lists. This Japan travel app is incredibly user-friendly and a must-have for your trip!
You more than likely already have Google Maps downloaded on your phone. If you don’t then this is a quick reminder to have it ready and waiting for your trip to Japan.
There are some great hacks you can use to make the most out of Google Maps when in Japan:
- If you are looking for a convenience store, restaurant or a fast food place, simply type those words into Google Maps. This will highlight what is closeby plus their reviews too!
- Prior to your trip, start saving places on Google Maps that interest you or that you want to go to. This will help you to formulate an itinerary plus figure out how to get from A to B.
The interface of Google Maps is simple and user-friendly and it also offers real-time updates such as train delays.
Hyperdia is another transportation app in Japan that can be of benefit especially if you plan on using the Japan Rail Pass.
The app is available in English, Japanese and Chinese and is updated quite regularly. What’s great about this app is that it provides information about train routes all across Japan, not just bullet trains. It will also warn you if part (or all) of your journey is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Hyperdia is mainly used for train navigation, however the app also provides walking times, offers car rental rates and sometimes hotel suggestions.
The only issue with Hyperdia is that you need to know the station name before you start searching. You can use Google Maps to help you find that information.
Tokyo Subway Navigation
If you plan on spending any chunk of time in Tokyo, then you need to download the Tokyo Subway Navigation app. This app can also be used offline too which is great if you can’t access Wi-Fi.
It’s worth pointing out that this app doesn’t include the JR line but besides this, the app works incredibly well. You can easily find the best route between any two stations, or search for hotels and major landmarks. The app will tell you the best way to reach them.
The app also provides information such as how long it will take to get to your destination, fare information and if you have searched for a particular location, the app will tell you where to find the closest exit. Considering how extensive the subway system in Tokyo is, this is incredibly helpful to know.
Gurunavi is the food bible app of Japan and it is one of the first Japan travel apps that you should download prior to your trip.
If you want the best food experiences in Japan then avoid using other food apps that you may use regularly such as TripAdvisor.
Gurunavi is used predominately by locals so you are guaranteed to find the most up to date information. The app also shows average prices, whether English speaking staff are available and the nearest train station.
One con about the app is that it doesn’t show ratings – however, you can access this information by using the Tabelog app or website.
If you are vegetarian/vegan or if you’re trying to cut down on your meat consumption (like me!) – then this is the app for you!
Happy Cow is an amazing Japan travel app which will locate vegan and veggie restaurants near you.
The app also provides reviews to help make your decision on where to eat a whole lot easier. Japan is not widely known as a haven for vegans but more and more restaurants are popping up all the time.
However, one of the cons of this app is that unless you pay for the premium version of this app, it won’t work offline. It is possible to search locations in advance so simply screenshot them and save to your phone.
If Gurunavi is the food bible of Japan, then Tabelog is most definitely the restaurant bible of Japan!
Tabelog is an incredibly popular Japan travel app and while it is currently only available in Japanese, if you use Google Chrome then the information can be easily translated.
Tabelog provides reviews of restaurants all across Japan and its rating system is known for being quite thorough. Generally, anything over 3 stars is good but you’ll rarely find anything above 4.5 stars.
One of the major cons of this app is that it is not yet available on android.
Travel Japan Wi-Fi
If you don’t plan on renting a portable Wi-Fi device during your time in Japan, then this travel app is the next best thing.
Travel Japan Wifi has over 200,000 hotspots all across the country and connects you automatically.
Wi-Fi is notoriously hard to come by in certain parts of Japan but this app makes it easier to find hotspots so you don’t have to spend all your time in coffee shops.
Keep an eye out for the blue lettered Wi2 which will give you strong, secure connectivity on your own device.
Google Translate is an incredibly helpful translation app when in Japan.
The absolute best feature of this app is the ability to directly translate using the ‘instant camera translation’ feature.
One con of this app is that it is not always 100% accurate but there is usually a good enough level of communication achieved.
I always recommend learning a few phrases of the local language no matter where you go and what better way to learn some Japanese than with a fun app like Duolingo?
Duolingo is a free app that rewards you for spending a couple of minutes every day learning your chosen language. You can earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up.
It’s important to note that English is not widely spoken particularly in rural parts of Japan. While there has been a push on learning English in the run-up to the Olympic games 2020, knowing a few Japanese phrases will still be of benefit to you.
Ecbo App – luggage Storage
The Ecbo App is the ultimate Japan travel app for finding easy storage solutions!
If you’re tired of lugging suitcases around or perhaps even your day bag, then this app will find the perfect storage unit for you.
Luggage lockers can be found everywhere across Japan and the Ecbo app will help you find them. Lockers in Japan come in a wide range of sizes and are an invaluable asset when travelling throughout the country.
This app helps so many travellers who need somewhere to store luggage while they’re on day trips, in between accommodation or who simply need somewhere to stash their souvenirs.
Yurekuru App – Earthquake Warning
Yurekuru is the most popular app for earthquake warnings in Japan as the app provides one of the most accurate indications of where and when an earthquake will occur.
I am highlighting this app as I know that many people worry about earthquakes when visiting Japan and it might make them feel more secure.
If I’m honest I used this app on and off during my time living in Japan – knowing about every single earthquake isn’t always helpful. However, if you’re visiting Japan, it can help you to feel more secure and safe during your trip.
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