Japan Travel Apps
Phone service-free travel is liberating.
It forces reliance on physical maps and asking locals for directions.
It demands observation of one’s surroundings.
It eradicates digital distraction.
And sometimes it causes a bit of anxiety.
Switching my phone to airplane mode in a foreign country is waving goodbye to the conveniences of GPS and the almighty Google.
There were some Japan travel apps that saved my a** in Japan. They didn’t require phone service and needn’t be connected to wifi to function. Thank goodness.
As an offline traveler, there are some apps for Japan you’ll need for the “where am I” and “what does this mean” moments. There were plenty of mistakes I made in Japan, but I sure was successful in downloading these apps before my trip.
[PS – looking for ideas to plan your trip to Japan? Check out my Japan itinerary!]
YoMiWa is a real-time camera translator that identifies the kanji (Japanese characters) and decodes what they mean. You just need to use your brain to interpret the implication of all the kanji together. This Japanese language translation app was especially useful at restaurants and when trying to find medication. YoMiWa was a lifesaver when I was trying to find a nasal decongestant that was non-drowsy.
A fantastic information app, Triposo is loaded with content curated across the web and organized like a guidebook. You can use the map and find recommended places to eat, things to do, and sites to see. The app offers tidbits of history and useful information. This is especially handy when you’re exploring an area and wonder what else is around you that you should see before moving on. When advanced travel planning is a weakness, Triposo is a tripsaver in a pinch.
Download the Japan map prior to your trip and you’ll have this map offline at your convenience. The biggest challenge with this map is that the streets are displayed in kanji. However, Maps.Me is pragmatic when looking at places relationally. How close is Tokyo Tower to my hotel? you may ask. Maps.me can show you.
Wouldn’t it be easy if some told you exactly how to get somewhere? Navitime is a transit search app that shows how to get somewhere in the simplest, most readable steps. You’ll see which trains you need to take, when to transfer, when to walk, and how long it could take and how much it could cost.
Hyperdia is excellent for transit planning if you purchased a JR Pass from an authorized vendor. While I’d use Navitime as more of a “how to get there in the moment” app, I’d rely on Hyperdia as a “timetable” app. Use Hyperdia to determine when to get on the trains and to plan out your day. We used this app when we were planning our trips from Tokyo to Hakone, Kyoto to Nara, and Kyoto to Tokyo. This really helped us to know when we needed to get to the train station to arrive at our destination on time.
Need more Japan travel inspiration?
Check out the rest of my posts about Japan!
- Japan Travel Tips: Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Trip to Japan
- Five Favorite Hakone Experiences
- 7 Things I LOVED about Japan
- 7 Things I Didn’t Love about Japan
- Japanese Owl Cafe Experience
- I fell on a crowded train in Japan and lived to tell the tale
I hope these apps for Japan help! They sure helped me. Do you have any other recommendations of travel apps for Japan?