This article is dedicated to the most useful apps to check while traveling in Japan. If you are scared of the fact that you simply can’t cope with the Japanese writing and will get lost either in translation or the extensive Tokyo metro system – worry no more. Our apps selection is here to save the day. Following is a detailed list of which the best apps for traveling in Japan are, the type of service they provide and how to use them.
Table of Contents
Hyperdia: the essential transportation app
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Hyperdia is at the top of any list of Japan travel apps. This is a Japanese app, developed for commuters and tourists in Japan. It is available in English, Japanese and Chinese. Hyperdia lets you choose your departure and arrival stations as well as the time of travel.
What is more, there is a special search filter, which allows for the personalization of the search results. All Japan Rail Pass holders should be aware that Nozomi and Mizuho trains are not part of the national JR Group and therefore are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Useful tip: Make sure to deselect Nozomi and Mizuho trains from your search filter. This will make the results even more accurate. You can customize each search through the “More options” button.
Once you have specified from where to where you want to go (town or station), click Search. You will be redirected to the results page which will show you:
- The departing hours
- Your departure and arrival track number
- The name of your train
- How much it will cost (Japan Rail Pass holders ride all JR trains for free)
- Additional information on maps, hotels, restaurants and rent-a-car services in the area
- How long will the journey take
- How many transfers you will have (if 0, it is still shown)
- The total distance in kilometers
Hyperdia by Voice
Hyperdia by Voice is equal to the standard Hyperdia app. The only difference is that this version is currently only available to iPhone users. If you have an iPhone, use Hyperdia by Voice for queries like “Kyoto station to Yokohama station, first train”.
The voice recognition software of the app will set the parameters of your search automatically and will provide you with direct and quick access to the train timetable information you asked for. This is a very handy app for all first-timers in Japan and especially for those who are looking for an easy navigational service in English.
Navitime for Japan is another popular navigation app option. Apart from providing detailed information about the world’s most complex metropolis (Tokyo), it also generates:
- Door-to-door route search
- Voice navigation
- New offline search for free WiFi spots
- A train stop list that will help you confirm you are headed in the correct direction
- Train delay information
- Recent routes saved for offline searches
This app is very useful, however, make sure to have an internet connection to be able to take the most of it. If you are looking for some great connectivity options for your stay in Japan, nothing better than a Pocket Wi-Fi device, which can get connected to a total of 10 devices simultaneously.
Jorudan Co., LTD. is a Japanese company, which has developed an easy-to-use transport app called Japan Transit Planner. Below you can see a screenshot of the PC version and the type of information it provides.
As you can see, this app tells you the distance, fare, type of seat on the train (reserved, non-reserved), including any surcharges that may apply. You are also given information about the duration of the trip and the total price, in case you travel without a Japan Rail Pass.The Jorudan app is available for both iOS and Android system. However, unlike the first two apps described in this article, Jordan has no free version. It costs approximately $4 to download it.
The Jorudan app is available for both iOS and Android system. However, unlike the first two apps, described in this article, Jordan has no free version. It costs approximately $4 to download it.
Google Maps is one of the oldest and best-known transportation apps. Similar to the apps we’ve seen so far, the new Maps will guide you through any city, town, village or area in Japan, by showing all the optimal routes, available at the moment of your inquiry.
By clicking Details you will see the name of your train (in this example Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen is the bullet train line) and the time it will take you to get to your selected final destination. The displayed cost is only valid for those who do not hold a Japan Rail Pass. The biggest advantage of this app is that it is more visual regarding location. Apart from your destination station, you can easily see nearby restaurants, parks, bars and more.
Now that you know everything about how to get from one place to another in Japan, it’s time to learn how to find the best restaurants, hotels, and attractions. Tripadvisor is a top-rated app, used by millions of people all over the world. If you are using to it in your own country, no doubt you will use it while in Japan as well. It is available for Android and iOS.
Tripadvisor gives you personalised options about:
- Places near you
- Things to do
- Holiday rentals
- Destination guides
Having all of this information at the tip of your fingers will surely make a difference. Select your preferred food, price limit, personal interests and start discovering. The app is completely free of charge. However, you will need an internet connection to access it. Apart from the amazing Pocket Wi-Fi option, you can also order a Data SIM card (internet only) that will give you direct access to the fastest internet connection available in Japan.
Gurunavi is a great and easy to use restaurant-finder app. It lets you select your prefecture (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, etc.) and the area where you are.
Once you have selected where you want to eat, the app shows you restaurants search results by cuisine such as:
- Yakiniku (BBQ)
- Izakaya (Typical Japanese pub)
- Dining bars / beer halls
Furthermore, there are some quite useful filters such as:
- Places with English-speaking staff
- All you can eat/drink offers
- Places with free Wi-Fi access
- Non-smoking restaurants
Yes, you’ve guessed it, this is a Sushi dictionary app for everyone out there who still can’t decode the meaning of all those delicious Japanese meals. The app is available for iOS and Android and is completely free of charge.
Sushi dictionary includes interpretations of any sushi option available in any Japanese restaurant. Downloading the app will allow you to understand the whole menu without worrying about mistranslations.
Apart from this great option, the app also includes a complete seafood glossary, including traditional preparation styles for individual seafood types.