Best Travel Apps for Japan

With today’s technology, international travel has never been easier. When traveling to a foreign destination that you’ve never visited before, having a few travel applications can decrease stress and increase productivity while on your trip. These were a few of the ones that we found most useful while visiting Japan.

 

1. Google Maps: Google Maps was an absolute life saver during our trip. With some of the largest cities in the world, the last thing you want to do on your trip is get lost (and trust me its easy to do!). Google Maps allows you to be very efficient in how you travel from place to place, regardless of your method. I love how this app allows you to change your method of travel (Walking, Driving, Public transit, etc.) and gives you both a map and turn by turn instructions. Another great feature about Google Maps is its ability to calculate your fare on public transit (i.e. trains, subways, streetcars, etc.) so you’re able to purchase the correct ticket and don’t have to worry about correcting your balance at your destination.

Price: Free          

Available on iPhone and Android devices

(source: Google Maps)

2. Trip Advisor: We absolutely love Trip Advisor and wouldn’t travel with out it. While it is good to reference printed literature when planning your trip, Trip Advisor is amazing because information about attractions/hotels/restaurants are typically updated frequently and it is free. Trip Advisor utilizes reviews and information given by travelers and professional sources to give you information about the best locations to visit, stay, and eat, to get the most out of your trip. One of the best aspects of Trip Advisor is its map and current location searches that allows you to search areas of interest near you. It was especially helpful on evenings when we had changed our itinerary and needed a quick place to eat nearby. While it is nice to visit “hot spots” in each city, we also enjoy trying new locations that haven’t been reviewed and sharing these new places with other adventurous travelers

Price: Free          

Available on iPhone and Android devices

(source: Trip Advisor)

3. Innovative Language 101: I have learned that making an attempt to learn another culture’s language can go a long way in how receptive others are of you in foreign locals. I do not consider myself a linguist and am honestly quite poor at my first language of English, but I do enjoy learning what I can about new languages. Innovative Language 101 has a lot of great materials to get you started in the basics of many different languages and is available to use on your desktop computer as well as your phone. It utilizes audio and visual lessons, and has native speakers teach you proper intonation and phrasing of your desired language. There are also written lessons, PDF files, and community forums to aid in furthering your language education. While the download and trial membership are free, to gain full utilization of all the resources there are various membership packages available for a monthly fee.

Price: Download – Free; Premium membership – $14.99/month; Basic – $4.99/mo; Mobile only – $6.24/mo                                                            

Available on PC/MAC, iPhone, and Android devices

(source: Innovative Language 101)

4. Google Translate: While we all have the best intentions when it comes to learning a new language, more often than not we don’t quite achieve our desired proficiency before we leave on our trip. Thankfully Google has developed some great Apps that allow people to travel and communicate like never before. Google Translate is an amazing app that allows you to obviously translate simultaneously between two different languages. The basic function is to type in the desired phrase or word and the app generates the corresponding text in the desired language. However, this app goes above and beyond with its extensive interface. An example is using the microphone to seamlessly translate spoken word into a text and verbal reply.  Another feature of this app which is still a work in progress is the written translation. You can take a picture of text (i.e. a menu, or attraction pamphlet) and have it translated to your desired language.

Price: Free

Available on iPhone and Android devices

(source: Google Translate)

5. Hyperdia: This railway timetable app is perfect for planning out when you need to catch your train. We love this app because it allows you to set specific times, railways, and other variables to determine your best route. Hyperdia gives you information on what type of seats are available, cost, and duration of your trip. Do keep in mind that this app has a 30 day free trial period after downloading the app.

Cost: Free (First 30 days)    

Available on iPhone and Android devices

(source: HyperDia)

6. Maps.Me (Maps with Me): This map application is wonderful for those who won’t have constant internet access while abroad. You can download various city or region maps and utilize them while you are disconnected to the internet. While limited compared to a lot of the other navigation apps, Maps.Me allows driving and walking directions by utilizing a phone’s GPS capabilities.

Cost: Free

Available on iPhone and Android devices

These phone applications were live savers on our three week trip to Japan. Whether it be to get around, search for something to do, or aid in communicating, we highly recommend all of these apps to help make your trip easier and stress free! While there are plenty of areas that have free wifi in Japan, we utilized a rented portable wifi hotspot on our trip which we will discuss in another post!


What were some apps that you couldn’t live without while traveling abroad?
Tell us in the comments below!

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15 Comments

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  1. This kind of tips always help a lot for first time traveler and this what a travel blogger must share with their followers. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  2. I might have to purchase the linguistic app. I struggle sometimes with ttranslations. Thx for tips

    Like

  3. My dream is to visit Japan one day.
    This article only made me start planning realistically when I can actually make that trip.
    It was super informative and showed all the pros and cons to each app.
    Now im much more confident about my choice of app when I visit.

    Hope you visit me and Israel some day too,
    Then Ill show you cool apps to use here
    Ana
    ourholytestament.com

    Like

    • Ana, I hope you’re able to make it too! It’s a fascinating and unique country. If you need any trip planning advice be sure to let us know. We’d love to visit Israel, is that where you’re from? Kallsy’s sister and my brother both visited a few years ago during a time of tension but they still talk about the remarkable experiences they had there. Maybe when we come you can be our guide!

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  4. Maps.ME is seriously my favorite app ever. It’s gotten me through some stressful “lost” situations in the US and abroad. Thanks for sharing these! I’d love to go to Japan in 2017 so I’ll bookmark this post for later! Thanks Logan and Kallsy!

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  5. We have never been to Japan so far but it’s on our travel list. We have some of these apps and they helped us several times. Now we have to download the others 🙂

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  6. Google translate and google maps are LIFESAVERS! Thanks for sharing these. My favorite app is Google Maps because you can download the maps offline!

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  7. We use Here as it has also an off line option and so far it’s been a good tool.

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  8. Do you get an international SIM card when you travel? I would be afraid of hidden fees etc when using apps that depend on data or even wifi. When I got back from Thailand, I had accumulated over $400 in fees by using third party apps even while on wifi with data turned off. Otherwise, this is a good guide, as long as people are smart about it! 🙂

    Like

    • We usually rent a portable wifi device that gives us access to plenty of data or unlimited. We thankfully didn’t have any “hidden fees” on our cell phone bills when we came back! $400 though, that’s a serious buzz kill! Sorry that happened to you! What were you using for wifi?

      Like

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