Best APP for Travel in Japan 2018

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If you’re planning a trip to Japan and you don’t plan to stand in the same spot for your entire trip you need to read this article. Japan’s transportation system is complex & lacking in street signs but with the right app(s) and your sturdy smartphone it’s a challenge you will happily accept!

Contenders for Best APP

Google Maps– already a winner in one category. You need Google Maps for finding locations the moment you exit the subway or disembark from your train but this global giant has local competition for navigating Japan’s public transport system. Is it up to the task?

Hyperdia– Do a quick search for Japan’s Best Apps and Hyperdia gets all the plaudits for route planning & timetable information for public transportation. A quick look at the web version may give you a quick insight into its weaknesses however- Web Version

Available for both iOS (1 month free / $2.99 a month after) and Android (free).

Japan Transit Planner– The most downloaded app in Japan. Since October 2017 is free to both for Android/iPhone users. This app plans your trips and also offers a web version giving you an opportunity to take a test drive before arriving in Japan- Web Version 

The APP Results

To navigate Japan the newly crowned champion app for 2018 is “Japan Transit Planner”. Followed in a close race by the global colossus that is Google Maps. Having led the field for years Hyperdia gets a consolation bronze medal but is far off the leading pack in terms of design & user experience.

Take Our Advice

We recommend you use Japan Transit Planner when on the move – trains, planes or automobiles- and switch to Google Maps when you take off on foot. Here’s a simple chart explaining our reasons why!


Japan Transit Planner Google Maps Hyperdia
Free for Android & iPhone Users Free for Android & iPhone Users Free for Android in 32 countries/ iPhone (voice) option
Works Offline Needs Internet Needs Internet
Gets you from A to B on public transport using most convenient & fastest route- a travel route planner Gets you from A to B- walking or on public transportation- a GPS navigation app Gets you from A to B on public transport using most convenient & fastest route- a travel route planner
Easy to Use Easy to Use Clunky- not predictive for station names & provides unusual station name spellings
Japan Rail Pass Search Filter & Tokyo Subway Ticket Search Filter Does not discern which transport you need to take! You decide! Japan Rail Pass Search Filter
Wow factor!- displays platform numbers for trains & subways- invaluable when you are in a hurry and can’t read Japanese! It even gives you a quick weather forecast symbol at your final destination. Wow factor!-  helps find location such as shops inside train stations- invaluable if meeting other people! Wow Factor! – We’re just amazed that the app uses such zany colours & symbols- as if Japan’s transport system wasn’t complex enough you have to remember pink trains are non-JR etc! No thanks!

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1 thought on “Best APP for Travel in Japan 2018

  1. Hi,
    to avoid surprises I’ve just tested Japan Transit Planner. Unfortunately it does not provide route in the offline mode. So, there is no advantage vs other two apps

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