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 Japanese writing and will get lost either in translation or the extensive Tokyo Metro system – worry no more. Our app selection is here to save the day.
Below you’ll find a detailed list of the best apps for traveling in Japan, the type of service they provide, and how to use them when visiting the country with a Japan Rail Pass!
Navitime (Japan Travel by Navitime)
Navitime for Japan is a popular app that makes navigating around the Japanese capital and the rest of the country stress-free. 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
- Platform details for each service
- Recent routes saved for offline searches
However, you should make sure you have an internet connection to be able to get the most out of it. If you’re looking for some great connectivity options for your stay in Japan, there’s nothing better than a Pocket Wi-Fi device, which can connect to a total of 10 devices simultaneously.
Japan Transit Planner (Jorudan)
Jorudan Co., LTD. is a Japanese company, which has developed an easy-to-use English 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’re given information about the duration of the trip and the total price, and you can also filter out services that aren’t covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Japan Transit Planner is available for both iOS and Android systems. The app is free to download, but there is also a paid option that is ad-free and allows you to access route search/timetable history, customize search criteria, and other premium services.
Tokyo Subway Navigation
If you’re planning to make Tokyo your primary destination in Japan and spend a few days exploring the metropolis, then this app is essential!
Incredibly simple and easy to use, Tokyo Subway Navigation provides a full map of the city’s Metro and Toei lines so you don’t need to waste time looking around for wall-mounted or paper route guides.
Popular among locals and tourists alike, it also lets you navigate around the city by tapping on station names closest to attractions and finding the quickest route to your destination (if you are connected to the internet). It’s free to download for both iOS and Android systems.
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 can 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.
Available in more than 15 languages, this interactive map is similar to Google Maps, but can be used without an internet connection. SImply download the map of Japan when you’re connected to Wi-Fi and you can use it even when in internet dead zones!
Maps.Me also lets you import bookmarks from Google My Maps and use them alongside the built-in points of interest and custom pins within the app you create, even when offline. Also, it has a GPS function that can be used when you’re connected to the Internet.
If you don’t understand a lick of Japanese and want to make your trip through the country as hassle-free as possible, then downloading the Google Translate app is a must.
This app makes it easy to overcome the language barrier with functionalities such as:
- Instant text translation
- Voice translation
- Conversation mode that allows to translate back-and-forth speech in real time
- Voice playback that aids pronunciation
- Handwriting analysis and translation
- Translation of text in images through camera mode
The Google Translate app is also great because it allows you to download many different languages for offline translation from Japanese.It can be easily accessed from your computer, tablet, or Android or iOS phone.
This Japanese dictionary app is ideal for travelers who want to engage with the local language. Incredibly accurate in its translation, it not only provides you with Japanese words and phrases but also teaches you how to pronounce them correctly!
What’s more, the app is available in many different languages, including:
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.
Gourmet Navigator (GuruNavi)
Once you have selected where you want to eat, the app shows you restaurant 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
As the app tends to display a huge number of results and the search filters are limited, you might feel a little overwhelmed by all the restaurant options GuruNavi offers you. Still, it’s very useful if you want to find an option to eat out close by in the surrounding area!
While Gururnai is often considered the “Yelp of Japan”, good old Yelp is also incredibly useful in the country too! This top-rated app, used by millions of people all over the world, is relatively new in Japan, but is still a reliable resource for finding high-quality restaurants in the country.
Yelp not only offers reviews and ratings of restaurants so you can make an informed choice for where to eat out, but you can also use it to search for other businesses such as hairdressers and beauty salons.
The Yelp app is completely free of charge. However, you’ll 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.