Journeying to a new place can be daunting, especially to a country like Japan which features unfamiliar language, transportation systems, and culture. Luckily, apps can equip you with the knowledge and skill to travel like a local, whether you’re alone or with a group.
Here are some of our favorite Japan travel apps for iPhone or Android to help you make the most of your trip.
Japan Official Travel App by JNTO
Once you’ve booked a trip to Japan, the uber-organized Japan Official Travel App by the Japan National Tourism Organization is a must-have. It’s packed with information that helps you be a more efficient traveler in the country, from basic facts and itinerary suggestions to transportation routes to the latest travel warnings.
One of the best Japan travel apps for iPhone and Android, it’s available in a wide variety of languages, including Simple/Traditional Chinese, English, and Korean.
A tricky part of traveling is figuring out a new country’s transportation system, but Hyperdia makes it easier for Japan tourists to navigate its modern and complex train system. The popular app lets you find the different routes between two train stations as well as offers distance, travel time, car rental rates, and nearby accommodations.
With a simple, straightforward interface and flexible search options, Hyperdia is the transportation app of choice of many travelers in Japan, especially since it makes it easy to figure out where you can use the Japan Rail Pass. Users on the iPhone can download Hyperdia by Voice, which basically has the same functions with the added convenience of voice recognition software.
Other great options for Japan travel apps on transportation include Jorudan, Navitime, and Tokyo Subway Navigation, the latter of which is limited to the city of Tokyo. There are also travelers who rely on trusty Google Maps for their transportation needs in Japan.
In certain situations, splurging on a taxi is worth it and if you’re not confident about hailing one from the side of the street in Tokyo, you may need to get Takkun on your phone. As the official app of the Tokyo taxi association, it allows you to access a network of more than a dozen taxi companies, so they can send a cab directly to you.
It’s very similar to Uber, in which you can request a taxi to pick you up from your exact location. Sit back and relax with a quick and comfortable ride to your destination.
If you want a more private ride, rent a car with KKday instead.
As you roam Japan, don’t let the unfamiliar language deter you from enjoying the country like a local. Be prepared to read Japanese as if you’re a resident with the Japan travel app Yomiwa, which translates Japanese characters from your camera or gallery. Simply snap a photo or point your phone camera to the sign and get it instantly translated into your language of choice.
Armed with this app, you’ll be able to read street signs, menu items, and newspapers without having to hunt down someone to translate for you.
Google Translate may seem like an obvious choice, but it’s a must-have, especially for solo travelers who have no one to translate for them. The app is quick, fuss-free, and works offline, making it one of the best travel apps in Japan.
With Google Translate, you can ask questions to any local, even those who don’t speak English. Type in your question and use the app’s translation to get your point or query across. While it’s not always 100 percent accurate, it provides a near-accurate translation most of the time—enough for a tourist to get by in Japan.
Gurunavi Restaurant Guide
Hands down, Gurunavi Restaurant Guide is one of the best travel apps in Japan. Many travelers come to Japan for the food and this app is the country’s most comprehensive restaurant guide—so even first-time tourists know which places to hit in their major Japan city of choice. Not only does Gurunavi give first-rate dining recommendations, but it also lets users get a glimpse of the menus and make reservations through the app.
Reserve a table at Kashiwaya to enjoy a 3 Michelin Star meal in Osaka.
Aside from the said travel apps, check out the essential things you need to bring when you’re going on a trip to Japan.