best apps for travelling in japan

Throughout my travels, I have sat and wondered how we would all manage without the countless useful apps currently available on our devices, from translating languages, finding amazing deals, locating the best restaurants, and so on.

Apps have changed our lives for the better and have become incredibly helpful in making the process much easier, especially in helping businesses make more sales.

Travel apps simplify various aspects of travel, like currency conversion, mobile payments, and digital ticketing, streamlining the travel experience and reducing the need for physical documents.

They provide user-generated content, like reviews, recommendations, and valuable insights into hidden gems, local eateries, and authentic cultural experiences that may be outside of traditional travel guides.

Not only that, but they help travellers save time and money by offering easy solutions for booking flights, accommodations, transportation, and activities, often with exclusive discounts or deals.

There are many other reasons why apps, in general, add such great value to our lives, but are there any specific apps that cater to travelling to Japan?

Japan Destinations. Great Fuji Mountin With Chureito Pagoda During Fall Season with Red  maple Trees in Fujiyoshida, Japan.Horizontal Shot

When travelling to Japan, having a couple of apps on your phone will elevate your overall experience because there is so much on offer. This guide will help you break down the best apps for travelling in Japan and help you through your journey in the best way possible. 

What is it like travelling in Japan? It really is a unique and rewarding experience. Japanese culture strongly emphasises politeness and respect; you’ll find locals incredibly courteous and helpful during your stay.

While English is not widely spoken, especially in rural areas, most signs and transportation information are available in English. Japan is one of the safest countries for travellers since crime rates are low, and you can explore cities and rural areas with peace of mind.

The country boasts a rich cultural heritage with historic temples, shrines, and traditional festivals. Kyoto, in particular, is famous for preserving traditional Japanese culture. It is also a hub for technological innovation, with futuristic cities like Tokyo showcasing the latest in robotics, electronics, and urban design.

So, the decision has been made, and tickets have been booked; now it’s time to enter preparation mode because travelling to Japan requires at least a little planning before your big arrival. Moving through this busy destination and needing to know where to go or what to do can be unclear.

Have you checked out the different ways to move around the country? If you plan on relying on the extensive public transport Japan is famous for, consider organising the Japan Rail pass or ensuring your Uber app is up to date.

Japan is known for its food and restaurants. Hence, downloading a resourceful app to help you decide is wise to ensure you find the best options that cater to your preferences. 

Below, you will find a detailed list of the best apps for travelling in Japan that will assist you during your journey:

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General Travel

The first order of business is looking into the types of ‘general’ apps that will help you in your everyday life. You will find many different Japanese travel apps offering many services. Still, sometimes you need the basics, and these consist of the apps we use in our daily lives:

  • Google Translate
    Japanese can be challenging for non-speakers to understand and communicate. Google Translate helps bridge this gap by offering instant translations between Japanese and your native language. The app can translate text from signs, menus, and documents by scanning them with your phone’s camera. It can also translate spoken language, making it easier to have basic conversations with locals. Apple App and Android App.
  • Xe Currency Converter
    XE Currency Converter is a valuable app to download. It allows you to quickly and accurately convert your home currency to Japanese yen (JPY) and vice versa, helping you understand the local currency’s value. The app provides up-to-date exchange rates and enables you to budget and manage expenses effectively.
  • Travel Japan Wi-Fi
    The Travel Japan Wi-Fi app is a valuable tool to download because It helps you find and connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots, saving you money on data roaming charges and keeping you connected while exploring Japan. It offers an offline map of Wi-Fi locations. The app provides information about Wi-Fi availability in various regions across Japan.
  • Japan Official Travel App
    JNTO provides the Japan travel entry app with detailed information on tourist attractions, transportation options, accommodations, and local events, making planning and navigation easier. The app offers real-time updates on transportation and weather and provides multilingual support, including English. As the official travel app of Japan, it provides accurate and up-to-date information, enhancing the overall travel experience.
  • Ecbo Cloak
    The Ecbo Cloak App simplifies your travel experience by securely storing your luggage and exploring Japan without the burden of carrying bags, improving your overall travel convenience. It allows you to quickly find and reserve luggage storage locations in major Japanese cities, connects you with trusted local businesses that offer secure luggage storage options, and allows you to book luggage storage for specific time slots, helping you tailor your storage needs to your travel itinerary.
  • Japan Travel SIM Card App
    The Japan Travel SIM Card App helps you efficiently manage your mobile data while travelling the country. It enables you to manage your Japan Travel SIM card, monitor data usage, and purchase additional data packages if needed. The app provides instructions for quickly activating your SIM card; it offers details about the network coverage and data speeds available and helps you receive notifications about your data balance and SIM card expiry.
  • Suica and IC Card Reader
    This app allows you to manage your Suica card, a popular contactless payment card in Japan, including checking balances and transaction history. The app works with various IC cards, such as Suica, Pasmo, and Icoca. The app integrates with mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay, enabling contactless payments and making it convenient for shopping and transportation. Apple App and Android App.
Beautiful morning at Yasaka Pagoda and Sannen Zaka Street in summer, Kyoto, Japan. Yasaka Pagoda is the famous landmark and travel attraction of Kyoto.

Japan Travel – Train, car, Subway

Travelling around a new place you have never been before can be daunting and confusing, so having reputable apps that help you get around is essential for a good travel experience. Navigating through busy cities or towns can be a struggle, and owning an app that allows you to access routes, timetables, and updates can be very convenient for your trip. 

  • Google Maps
    Google Maps provides detailed maps and directions for Japan’s cities, towns, and rural areas. It offers real-time traffic data and public transportation information. You can download these maps for offline use, and it integrates seamlessly with other Google services like Google Translate, making it an excellent choice for navigating Japan. Apple App and Android App.
  • Maps.me
    Maps. Me excels at offline navigation, offering detailed maps that can be downloaded in advance and used without an internet connection. The app is known for its simplicity and ease of use. It includes many points of interest (POIs), helping you discover attractions, restaurants, and more.
  • Uber
    Uber is a well-known app used worldwide; it offers an alternative to traditional taxis, providing an easy and familiar way to request rides in major Japanese cities. Uber transactions are cashless; it provides upfront pricing, offers various ride options and includes safety features like GPS tracking and sharing your trip details with trusted contacts. The app has an English interface, making it an excellent choice for international travellers who may need to learn to speak Japanese.
  • Japan Travel by NAVITIME
    The best of Japan’s navigation apps is The Japan Travel by NAVITIME, which provides detailed information on transportation, including trains, buses, subways, and even walking routes, helping you navigate Japan efficiently. The app offers real-time transportation schedules, service disruptions, and travel advisories, ensuring you stay informed and can adjust your plans accordingly. You can use the app to plan your entire travel itinerary, including multiple transportation modes from point A to B.
  • Tokyo Subway Navigation
    The Tokyo Subway Navigation app is an excellent addition to your travel tools because it provides comprehensive information about Tokyo’s complex subway system, including maps, timetables, and station details, helping you navigate the city’s extensive transit network. Apple App and Android App.
  • JapanTaxi
    The JapanTaxi app lets you easily book taxis, connecting you with licensed and reputable taxi companies. You can pay for your taxi fare through the app, monitor your journey and arrival time through real-time tracking, and have an English interface. JapanTaxi is available in major cities across Japan, making it easily accessible for travellers exploring various regions. Apple App and Android App.
  • Norikae Annai Japan Transit (formerly Japan Transit Planner by Jorudan)
    The Norikae Annai Japan Transit planner app is an excellent tool for planning and navigating public transportation in Japan. It provides detailed information on public transportation options, including trains, subways, buses, and trams. It helps you plan the most efficient routes from your starting point to your destination and features an intuitive and user-friendly interface. You can download maps and transit information for offline use, and it offers support in multiple languages. Apple App and Android App.
  • Japan Rail Pass
    Make the most of your JR Pass by efficiently navigating Japan’s extensive railway network using the app. It allows you to manage your Japan Rail Pass, including activation, usage tracking, and expiration date monitoring. The app provides timetables and schedules for Japan Railways (JR) trains. It helps you find the best routes and connections for your travel itinerary. Apple App and Android App.
The 700 Series bullet train at Tokyo station in Tokyo. 700 Series service as "Hikari (Light)" for Tokaido Shinkansen line (Tokyo - Shin Osaka route).

Entertainment

Travelling far distances can become long and tedious, which is why so many of us have entertainment-related apps that keep us busy and amused during those heavy flights or lengthy train and bus rides. Finding your favourite music or keeping up with your current series, here are some of the best entertainment apps for travelling to Japan. 

  • Netflix
    If you still need to download Netflix, I suggest you do so since it is a massively popular app used by millions of people around the globe that has successfully kept us entertained with the wide selection of movies, TV shows, and documentaries it offers. You can download movies and shows for offline viewing, making it a convenient and great option for long flights or train journeys. Suppose you’re already a Netflix subscriber in your home country. In that case, the app provides a consistent streaming experience abroad, with subtitles and dubbing options for non-English content. Apple App and Android App.
  • Spotify
    By downloading Spotify, you can improve your travel experience by enjoying music and podcasts tailored to your tastes, whether exploring Japan’s cities, relaxing on a train, or unwinding in your accommodation. Spotify provides access to a vast library of audio content and lets you download your favourite music and playlists for offline listening. Spotify offers personalised playlists and recommendations based on your music preferences, which makes it a tremendous past-time activity. Apple App and Android App.
  • VoiceTra (learn Japanese)
    VoiceTra app allows you to navigate language challenges more effectively and enhance your communication while travelling in Japan, improving your overall travel experience. It offers real-time translation between multiple languages, including Japanese, enabling you to communicate with locals, read signs, and understand menus more easily. It’s a free smartphone app designed with a simple interface.
  • Rosetta Stone
    Rosetta Stone provides comprehensive language learning courses that help you acquire essential language skills and phrases, enhancing your ability to communicate with locals during your trip. The app offers interactive, immersive speaking, listening, reading, and writing lessons. It includes speech recognition technology to help you improve your pronunciation, making it easier to communicate effectively in Japanese. It can boost your confidence when interacting with locals, ordering food, asking for directions, and engaging in cultural experiences.
  • DuoLingo/ Memrise
    Invest in your language skills to enrich your travels in Japan by enabling better communication and cultural immersion using language apps like DuoLingo and Memrise. They offer language courses for learning Japanese, helping you acquire essential vocabulary and phrases for better travel communication. They provide interactive and engaging lessons focusing on various language skills, including speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Duolingo and Memrise use gamification techniques to make learning fun and motivating, encouraging regular practice. You can access lessons on your smartphone, and both apps offer free language courses.
Woman hand holding Smart Phone with Netflix logo on android phone. Netflix is a global provider of streaming movies and TV series

Food

Are you ready to get your ‘rice’ on? Welcome to a country offering a unique and diverse eating experience that can cause an overwhelming feeling when ordering food! This is why downloading resourceful and helpful apps related to the food and restaurant industry can go a long way. 

Below are some of the best apps for travel in Japan that can help you choose the best place to eat and dine out, depending on your preferences:  

  • Ramen Beast
    Embark on a delightful culinary journey to savour some of the finest ramen Japan offers using the Ramen Beast app. It helps you discover and locate the best ramen shops in different areas; it provides detailed information about each place and offers maps and directions. It tailors recommendations based on your location and preferences and offers offline access if needed. Apple App .
  • Gurunavi
    Gurunavi allows you to easily explore Japan’s vibrant food scene, discover hidden culinary gems, and enjoy diverse dining experiences throughout your trip. You can search for restaurants by cuisine type, location, price range, and other criteria. It allows you to make restaurant reservations and view menus and photos of dishes, helping you decide where and what to eat before you arrive. Gurunavi offers support in multiple languages, including English, making it accessible to international travellers. Apple App and Android App.
  • Tabelog
    Tabelog is an app that informs you about various dining choices throughout Japan. Its efficiency allows you to view a vast database of restaurants, including a wide range of Japanese and international cuisines. It features user-generated reviews and ratings, offering valuable insights into the quality and popularity of restaurants based on real diners’ experiences. You can access comprehensive information about each restaurant, including menus, prices, operating hours, and location details. The app offers advanced search filters and provides online reservation services. Android App.
Sushi bar set - International maki sushi roll on black slate platter. Served with wooden chopstick, wasabi and pickled ginger. Japanese set with maki sushi roll and nigiri sushi on dark stone table

Weather

Weather can have a significant effect on your overall travel experience, and not being prepared could literally ruin your trip. For some, the weather only sometimes holds the most significant impact. Still, for others, ensuring you end up with the sunny days you imagined on your much-awaited adventure is necessary. 

There are various weather-related apps for travel in Japan. Still, the ones mentioned below are highly popular with international tourists:

  • Weather Underground
    Using the Weather Underground app helps you stay well-informed about the weather in Japan, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience with fewer weather-related surprises. It provides up-to-date and highly accurate weather forecasts for cities and regions across Japan. You can access both hourly and long-term weather forecasts, allowing you to make informed decisions about your daily itinerary and trips. It has interactive maps and radar images, visually understanding weather patterns and conditions in real time. It also provides alerts for severe weather conditions, such as typhoons or heavy rain, and has a user-friendly interface.
  • Japan Meteorological Agency’s
    Japan Meteorological Agency’s app gives you access to official and authoritative weather information and emergency alerts, ensuring your safety and preparedness while travelling in Japan. It provides official and highly reliable weather forecasts and warnings, including critical information on natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons. The app offers location-specific weather forecasts, earthquake information and updates. It also delivers real-time alerts and notifications about significant weather events and offers comprehensive data on weather conditions. While primarily in Japanese, the app often includes English language support. Apple App and Android App.
Cherry blossoms around Chidorigafuchi Park, Tokyo, Japan.

The northernmost part of Edo Castle is now a park name Chidorigafuchi Park. People boating and enjoy at sakura cherry blossom at Chidorigafuchi Park.

Conclusion

Save time by downloading at least a few apps to help you travel to Japan. They provide valuable information about local attractions, transportation, dining options, and cultural experiences, enabling you to make the most of your trip. The navigational apps help you find your way around Japan’s cities and countryside, making exploring and navigating public transportation systems easier, which can get confusing. 

Language translation and learning apps can assist you in communicating with locals and understanding signs or menus. It also enhances your understanding and appreciation of Japan’s rich culture and traditions. Emergency and weather apps alert you of natural disasters that can keep you informed and safe during unexpected situations like earthquakes or severe weather events.

These apps can help you save time and money by providing convenient solutions for booking accommodations, finding deals, and making reservations. Most feature user reviews and recommendations, offering insights into the best places to eat, visit, and experience based on fellow travellers’ experiences.

Overall, it’s worth looking into some of these apps for Japan travel since all they will do is improve your overall experience, allowing you to make the most out of your trip.  

Author

  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

    View all posts https://www.tiktok.com/@travellingkng

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