Japan is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. It is home to many centuries-old shrines and temples, historic castles and gardens, and picturesque natural scenery. It is also popular for its quirky and fascinating technology and culture, as well as its wide array of tasty and mouthwatering dishes.
If you are planning a trip to Japan soon, you should start downloading the best Japan travel apps to your smartphones now. Even if have zero Japanese language skills, or are a newbie to international travel, these kinds of apps can be a big lifesaver, and help you make many fun and memorable experiences in Japan.
1. Google Maps
Are you worried about not being able to find your way to your hotel once you arrive to Japan? Does just looking at the subway or metro system map of Tokyo stress you out so much? How do you make sense of the addresses, streets, and roads in a country that is miles and miles away from your home?
Navigating Japan is made easier with the Google Maps app. By simply typing in your origin point and your destination point, you can get a number of route suggestions to choose from, with information on the train line names, station stops, departure times, and arrival times. You can also know how much fare to pay for and how long the travel time is for each option, giving you a lot of flexibility.
You can download the Google Maps app for free here:
2. Google Translate
Did you try to learn Japanese before your trip but are still not able to carry a simple conversation? Are you afraid of the challenges that may arise if you go to a restaurant that does not have an English menu or an English-speaking staff? Do your anxiety levels rise just thinking about how awkward and frustrating these types of situations would be?
The Google Translate app is a versatile app that can provide translations from certain languages to another. If you come across a Japanese text that you want to translate, you can simply take a picture of it using your smartphone’s camera, and get an English translation right away. You will find that this is incredibly helpful when eating out, shopping, and sightseeing. You will also thank yourself for downloading it if you encounter a washing machine or air conditioning unit in your hotel room with only Japanese labeled buttons and controls.
You can download the Google Translate app for free here:
How do you search for train and bus timetables or directions if you do not have internet access while in Japan? Should you just completely rely on paper maps and timetables available at the tourist information centers for free? Is there any other way, something more convenient, to help you navigate and get around?
NAVITIME is one of those Japan travel apps that offer offline accessibility, meaning it can be used even without an internet connection. Once you download it to your smartphone, you can make use of its high-resolution maps and detailed train, metro, and subway timetables anytime, anywhere. You can also take advantage of its resources on ATM locations and WiFi hotspots across Japan, as well as its guidebook-like section with tips for foreigners traveling to Japan, and overview on Japanese history, culture, and tradition.
You can download the NAVITIME app for free here:
Are you looking for the best sushi restaurant in Tokyo? Do you want to know where you can enjoy some high quality ramen not too far away from your hotel? Is there a particular local specialty that you want to try last minute before you fly back home?
GURUNAVI is an excellent app for foodies traveling to Japan. It has an extensive list of restaurants across Japan that are highly rated by both locals and foreigners. It offers not only restaurant names, menus, and prices, it also provides every single ingredient and the type of cooking methods and techniques used for each dish. Available in English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean language options, it also has maps and directions to the different restaurants in their listings, and a reservation service.
You can download the GURUNAVI app for free here:
Are you planning to travel around Japan with a Japan Rail Pass? Have you tried using Google Maps to find Shinkansen or bullet train routes where you can use your pass but are now just more confused? Is there an app that can give you only routes where your Japan Rail Pass is valid?
Hyperdia is a reliable Japan travel app for Japan Rail Pass users. It provides what public transportation routes are available for you to get from one point to another, while minimizing your transportation expenses with the use of a Japan Rail Pass. You simply have to input your origin station and destination station, your date of travel, and preferred time of travel. Then, uncheck the boxes with the labels “Nozomi/Mizuho/Hayabusa (Shinkansen)” and “Private Railway” to get only train lines and Shinkansen lines operated by Japan Rail. Included in the search results are various important information per route options, including ticket costs, departure and arrival times, duration of travel, number of transfers, and platform numbers. There are also details on what stops the train makes along the way, how frequent a particular train departs, and interval times between stations.
You can download the Hyperdia app for free here:
6. Learn Japanese
Do you like meeting new people from other cultures? Do you want to make friends while you are in Japan? How much Japanese do you know?
Learn Japanese is an app that can act as your easy-to-access and convenient Japanese phrasebook. It contains around one thousand widely-used Japanese words and phrases for international tourists. It has categories for greetings, numbers, places, directions, transportation, and general conversation, and even offers audio files that you can use to learn proper pronunciations.
You can download the Learn Japanese app for free here: