When visiting Japan, a decent set of Japan travel apps can make planning your trip a breeze.
Here are 15 travel apps for Japan to help get you started.
Some of these apps require a data connection for them to work. Check here which local SIM card is the best for your trip and avoid high data-roaming costs.
Best Travel Apps for Japan
Japan Travel by NAVITIME
In Japan, Navitime is well-known for its automatic trip planners, compiling possible train routes for any given date and time.
Its app ‘Japan Travel’ is no exception, even taking into consideration any tourist passes you might have.
This an especially handy trick if you’re using the Japan Rail Pass and want to get your money’s worth.
Not only that, this Japan train app provides a build-your-own-itinerary function and detailed Japan tourist maps in English that shows a variety of locations helpful to any traveler.
You don’t even need to type out a search of “stores near me.” Simply tap an icon at the bottom of the screen for Wi-Fi, ATMs, convenience stores, restaurants, etc.
Then, voila! The pins of every nearby spot will pop up on the map.
Altogether, it serves as a true Japan travel guide app, designed to guide you at every point in your journey from the moment you touch down at the airport until you leave.
With the itinerary function, you can save your entire trip plan in one convenient location.
Some functionality is restricted to paid users only, but the essentials – such as the map and train route planner – are 100% free to use.
Google Maps has come a long way in the past decade.
Nowadays, it’s easily one of the best apps for Japan travel in the world. It not only provides ease of navigation but detailed data for many different locations in Japan.
This ranges from restaurants to businesses to common tourist spots. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that you could use it as a one-stop trip planner.
One of its most notable features is the Street View. Being able to zoom into the streets takes a huge burden off as you navigate to Japan.
No more wondering, “Is this the right place?”
You’ll be able to confirm with your own two eyes what your destination looks like just by checking this map.
That holds true whether it’s an attraction, a station, or the front of a hotel or restaurant.
And if you don’t have internet access for whatever reason, no worries – you can use Google Maps offline in Japan. You just have to prep ahead of time and download the maps you’ll need.
You can’t always guarantee that you’ll always have internet access, after all.
Google Translate is a powerful tool for deciphering languages. As must-have apps for travelers go, it’s at the top regardless of destination, but doubly so for Japan.
Why? While many Japanese people are required to learn English in school, they get very little real-world practice.
High-traffic tourist spots are usually fine, but outside of those, you’ll find yourself in a sea of Japanese only.
Most folks can only speak very basic English, and sometimes nothing more than “Hello” and “How are you?”
That’s where Google’s audio translation software comes in. One little screen tap will let you automatically translate conversations from Japanese to English or vice versa in real time.
It’s not perfect, but the technology for it is constantly improving, making it more accurate every year.
Need to read a Japanese-only sign? Break out the app’s camera function and it’ll translate anything you point it at in mere seconds.
Come across a particular Japanese character that the camera can’t read?
Try copying it out with the handwriting tool. Even if you can’t draw an exact match, the software will make suggestions to help you figure it out.
It’s one of the most invaluable apps for traveling in Japan that you can get.
Need a Japan train app with timetables? Look no further than Norikae Annai, a transit planner with train timetables and a route search engine.
It suggests not just train routes, but some common alternatives, such as the shuttle going from Narita Airport to Tokyo Disneyland.
Using it is quick and easy. Input the departing and arriving train stations into the search engine, enter the date and time of travel, and boom! The app will show several different options, some with abbreviations for speedy reference.
These are F to indicate fast travel time, E for easy (i.e., few transfers), and L for low cost.
You can also adjust the search to focus on results that are cheapest, quickest, or have the fewest transfers.
Once you’ve picked out the route that works best for you, you can even send it to yourself via email.
The main downside is that, although undoubtedly useful, the interface is rather plain.
Even so, a plain-Jane Japan trip planner app with good functions beats a flashy but useless one any day of the week.
Japan Rail Metro Map
One problem with many Japan apps is that they require the internet to work.
For that reason, it’s good to have an offline backup to help you out in a pinch. That’s where Japan Rail Metro Map comes in.
This Japan train app provides straightforward train route maps in Japan’s three most popular tourist destinations: Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.
You may not think you need an offline route map – after all, there are maps on the trains, right? Well, not exactly. While the train stations themselves always have route maps, they’re typically posted near the ticket machines. Once you get past the ticketing gate and onto the station platforms, it’s just a signboard announcing the next few incoming trains. At best, they might have a plain chart showing which stations a given train stops at.
Taking into consideration that trains and subways are the least likely to have internet service, it’s important to have a backup plan. Japan’s train routes are vast and intertwining. It can be difficult even for locals to keep track of. Having a metro map on hand will allow you to keep track of exactly which station you’re at and where the train you’re on is headed.
Time is precious when traveling. You don’t want to wait until the end of the line to realize you got on the wrong train! Download this train app for Japan to stay on top of the metro system at all times.
Suica and IC Card Reader
One thing you’ll inevitably have to deal with when using public transportation is figuring out how to pay for it.
You could lug around a heavy sack of coins wherever you go, or get an IC card to make paying quick and easy. But once you have an IC Card, how are you going to keep track of it?
This is where the Suica and IC Card Reader app comes in.
Though it may not be the first to pop into your head when you think of apps for traveling in Japan, it’s still very helpful.
With this, you can track your IC Card’s balance as well as your public transit history. All you have to do is install the app and scan your IC Card.
No stress of wondering how much is left on the card – just open the app and check.
This card reader works for a wide range of public transit cards, including Toica, Pasmo, Suica, Nanaco, and more.
Meanwhile, the cards themselves can be used on many types of public transportation, from buses to the nationwide JR railway.
It even has a function to export your transit data to a CSV sheet.
That’s something that will come in especially handy if you need a detailed record of your travel expenses.
Xe –Converter & Money Transfer
When visiting a foreign country, one thing you’ll need to do before setting off is learn about the local currency and what its exchange rate is with your home currency.
This is especially true in Japan, a country where people still use cash for everyday transactions. In some cases, cash may even be the only option.
You can prepare ahead of time with Xe Converter, one of the best apps for currency exchange.
Enter your home country’s currency in one box, and Japanese yen in the other, and start your calculations.
It will be able to convert from one currency to another just like that.
For travelers, this app can serve as a great budgeting tool. Quickly check what your favorite dish is on the menu or see if you can afford that fancy souvenir.
You can also figure out how much money you need to convert into yen – it’s always good to have some spare cash on you.
The app is just a starting point, though. It will give an approximation using a mid-market rate and isn’t necessarily the amount you’ll receive in the end.
However, that ballpark idea will be a good measure to know what something costs, or whether you’re getting a good exchange rate if you decide to exchange money.
The app can also be used to send money, but only if you have a bank account in Japan – or a trusted friend or relative has one.
If you want to go that route, be sure to create an account long before your departure date.
That way, you can transfer the money and have it ready to go by the time you arrive in Japan.
Tokyo Metro Subway Map & Route
Since almost everyone who visits Japan ends up going through Tokyo, you’ll almost certainly need one of the best train apps in Japan for navigating Tokyo’s maze of subway routes.
Although the JR trains are ideal for getting between cities, the metro system serves as the best intracity transportation between popular sightseeing spots, such as the Asakusa Temple and the Tokyo Skytree.
Tokyo Metro Subway Map & Route offers an intricate map of the metropolis’s entire subway system.
It has a slick, intuitive interface that allows you to pick out which stations you want to depart from and arrive at and suggests the best trains and transfers.
You can also flip the map from a plain white background showing only the routes and stations to one where you can see streets and parks overlaid with the subway lines.
This feature in particular is helpful in planning which stations to use to get from one sight to the next.
The free version of the app comes with ads, but you can pay to have them removed when you first boot it up.
You could also get the free no-ad, three-day trial, but only if you think you’ll remember to unsubscribe in between sightseeing.
For more information about using public transportation in Tokyo, click here.
Learn Japanese Phrases
As mentioned above, most people in Japan don’t speak a lot of English. So, include a good phrasebook app like Learn Japanese Phrases on your list of apps for Japan travel.
Rather than trying to learn a language from scratch, most travelers would rather just learn key phrases to prepare for their time abroad.
That’s where Learn Japanese Phrases comes in.
The home page presents you with a colorful array of situations that you’ll likely find yourself in – transportation, accommodation, eating, and so on.
Select one and it will display dozens of useful words and phrases, complete with audio.
It makes for a great study aid or even just a quick translation tool if others are having a hard time understanding your accent.
All you have to do is tap on the phrase that you want and show it to the other person. For this reason, it’s one of the best language apps for traveling in Japan.
Universal Studios Japan
If you’re stopping at Universal Studios Japan (referred to as USJ by the locals), the Universal Studios Japan app is one of the best apps in Japan for checking wait times for each attraction.
In addition, the app has a map of USJ and provides useful information regarding rides, shows, restaurants, and shops.
One of the nice things – particularly if you’re traveling with children – is that it will give height requirements and other restrictions right on the app.
It makes it much easier to plan where to go and what to do so that you don’t have to waste time deciding after you’ve arrived.
As USJ’s official app, it even comes with the option to buy tickets and passes, including the express pass.
The page for the annual pass is Japanese-only, but that’s only an issue if you’re planning multiple trips a year.
Looking for Universal studios tickets? Buy your tickets here.
Check prices and availability:
Universal Studios Tickets
Tip: If you want to be able to do all the rides in 1 day we highly recommend paying the extra fee for the Express Passes. The express passes need to be bought separately from the entry tickets. A limited number of express passes is available for each day so these may be sold out on the day itself.
If you’re planning to head to Super Nintendo World, the app also allows you to scan your band and keep track of your coins and rank.
It’s a definite must if you want a truly immersive experience.
Tokyo Disney Resort App
Much like the Universal Studios Japan app, the Tokyo Disney Resort App is the perfect resource when strolling through Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
With it, you can check wait times for attractions and get information on various rides, shows, restaurants, and shops. As Disney’s official app, it’s one of the best apps in Japan to find such information in one place quickly and easily.
If you make an account, you’ll open up access to a slew of other useful features, including the ability to book a reservation at a restaurant or show, apply for a standby pass, or even buy a vacation package.
You can even get some bonus features if you scan your ticket into the app at the park.
If there are any downsides, it’s mainly that the app needs reliable internet access in order to work properly.
Rather than take your chance with spotty Wi-Fi, make sure to get a Sim Card in Japan upon arrival so that you’ll be secure.
Here you can find more information on Tokyo Disney.
Looking for Tokyo Disney Tickets? Choose between Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.
Check prices and availability:
Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea Tickets
One thing to take into consideration when traveling to a foreign country is purchasing things when you can’t read the label.
Some things you’ll be able to identify easily with a glance, but packaging can often get in the way.
Especially in the case of food products, appearances can be deceiving, and you’ll need to be able to read a nutrition label if you or anyone you might be buying a gift for has allergies or special nutritional requirements.
This is where Payke comes in: an extremely useful tool that scans barcodes and provides product information in your native language.
This alone makes it one of the best apps for Japan travel, if not any travel in the world, but it doesn’t stop there.
It also connects to a network so that you know what items are popular in your area.
It’s a handy trick if you want to confirm a product’s quality but aren’t willing to do the drudge work of scanning through dozens of reviews.
Granted, the English grammar in the app isn’t perfect, and most if not all of the translations are clearly automated.
However, the usefulness and uniqueness far outweigh any linguistic nitpicking.
Despite the many restaurant apps to choose from, OpenTable is one of the few travel apps for Japan that offers both a decent array of Japanese restaurants and an English language interface.
You can look up places to eat either by your current location or by searching a general area – for example, Minato Ward in Tokyo.
The app will show pictures and names of each restaurant, plus ratings and price ranges.
Tapping on a restaurant will bring you to a page where you can check availability for reservations, check its location on a map, and read reviews (note: many, sometimes all, reviews might be in Japanese).
You can even input your email to book a reservation through the app itself, which is a great way to get ahead of the crowds.
As useful as OpenTable is, though, it’s not all that comprehensive.
If you’re not in a major city, for example, it might not list any restaurants at all. This brings us to the next point on this list of Japan travel apps…
Hot Pepper Gourmet
Hot Pepper Gourmet has got to be one of the best apps in Japan when looking for a place to chow down.
It comes with an extensive catalog of restaurants in every prefecture and a map so you can scan for nearby eateries.
They also have an English website that will allow you to search for restaurants and book a reservation. (Note: reservations can only be made through the app if you’re a resident of Japan.)
Although completely in Japanese, the user-friendly interface is intuitive and easy to understand.
The map also ensures that a comprehensive knowledge of Japanese writing isn’t needed in order to use it.
It is wise, however, to learn at least what the name(s) of the cities you’re visiting look like in their native Japanese, as that will make it easier to plan ahead.
You just have to go to the main directory and find the city name (Tokyo is at the very top, being the most common destination).
Unlike OpenTable, this Japan travel app has a huge number of restaurants in cities and towns all over Japan. You don’t have to worry about missing out if you happen to be on a road less traveled.
Although not one of the happier aspects of travel, emergency situations do happen sometimes.
And if it happens while you’re on your trip, you want to be prepared.
That is precisely what Safety Tips is designed for, and it’s one of the most essential apps for traveling in Japan on this list.
Once you download the app, select the language and your country of origin. You’ll be asked to choose five different areas to keep a lookout for warning alerts.
You can choose by current location, tourist spot, or city and district. To change the locations (for example, after leaving one city for another), you can do so in Settings.
Not only does it provide warnings for natural disasters, but information on weather, hospitals, and evacuation shelters.
It even has a fairly comprehensive route search function, meaning that it doubles as a Japan train app.
You’d think that would be the end of it, but nope! It contains helpful phrases in Japanese, general medical information, and useful links to news websites and WiFi spots.
It even has contact numbers for emergency services, including the local consulate of your country. (That’s why it requests your country of origin during installation.)
If ever something unexpected should happen while traveling, this is one of the best apps in Japan to have on hand.
Traveling shouldn’t drive you up a wall.
Take advantage of modern technology with these Japan travel apps and make your trip as stress-free as possible.