12 Best Japan Travel Apps 2024: Essential for Your Japan Travel!

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by Bethy

⁤Exploring major cities in Japan can make you feel daunting without some useful apps. It is very likely to get lost in those intricate neighborhoods, a labyrinth of train lines, and a dizzying array of dining options. ⁤⁤These can be overwhelming, yet, thankfully, after spending a few years residing in Japan, I've compiled an essential list of apps designed to streamline your trip to Japan. ⁤⁤I'll introduce you to the top 10 must-have apps in Japan, covering everything from food and lodging to transit. ⁤⁤So, let's dive into these indispensable apps for traveling in Japan and make visit to Japan worth it! ⁤

Table of Essential Japan Travel Apps

Here's a comprehensive table summarizing the essential information about the best travel apps for Japan:
App CategoryApp NameKey Features
Navigation & Transportation AppGoogle MapsAccurate itineraries and navigation, Street View feature.
Maps.meGood Offline function, detailed maps including turn-by-turn navigation.
UberHigh accuracy maps, supports in major cities, available in multiple languages.
Japan Travel by NAVITIMERoute planning, multilingual support, offline maps, nice travel guides.
Hotels & Flights AppTrip.comBook hotels, flights, tours, airport rides, cheap eal.
Food AppsGourmet Navigator (GuruNavi)Search by location or cuisine, curated recommendations, direct reservations.
Ramen BeastCurated list of ramen joints, detailed maps and ratings, designed for foodies.
YelpUser-generated reviews, booking tables, ordering food, discovering local businesses.
Safety AppsNERVdelivers optimised and updated disaster prevention and weather information
Safety tipsAlerts on earthquakes, tsunamis, weather conditions, evacuation guide, multilingual.
Translation AppsVoiceTraSpeech translation for over 31 languages, assists in various situations.
YomiwaText translation from photos, useful for navigating language barriers in Japan.

Japan Travel App: Navigation & Transportation

Google Maps

When planning a trip to Japan, it is highly recommended to use Google Maps, a key travel app for navigation. It helps you easily mark the places you plan to visit, which is an important feature in my travel planning every time. Surprisingly, Google Maps is awesome at providing accurate train itineraries and times that even locals rely on it to prove its reliability.

Over time, Google Maps has evolved into one of the world's leading travel tools for Japan. It provides detailed information on a variety of locations including restaurants, businesses and major tourist attractions, making it ideal for one-stop travel planning.

The Street View feature in particular is worth mentioning, as it allows you to see the streets in depth, greatly easing the difficulty of navigating Japan. This means you no longer have to ask, "Where am I now?" Because you can directly use the map to confirm the real view of the destination, whether it is the sightseeing spot, the station or the main entrance of the hotel restaurant.

Plus, even when you don't have an Internet connection, you don't have to worry, as Google Maps supports offline use in Japan. Simply download the required map in advance to make your trip stress free even if you do not have access to the Internet.

Maps.me

What sets Maps.me apart, especially for travelers, is its great offline functionality. Gone are the worries of finding Wi-Fi or facing data connectivity issues.

With Maps.me, you can search for places by name, address, or category without an internet connection. It's particularly handy for outdoor enthusiasts with detailed maps that include hiking trails and even metro overlays for urban navigation.

The app also offers turn-by-turn navigation, bookmarking capabilities similar to Google Maps, and even features travel guides and the ability to share your location with friends. Despite its slightly less polished user interface and the presence of ads, Maps.me's offline reliability and the richness of its features make it an essential travel tool, complementing Google Maps' offine deficiency.

It continues to draw its rich mapping data from OpenStreetMap. This is an open-source platform over proprietary technologies allows for a diverse and detailed mapping experience, crafted by a community passionate about creating superior maps. In fact, within nine months of enabling users to edit, over a million changes were made, showcasing the app's collaborative spirit.

Uber

Based on my travel experiences in Japan, drivers have mentioned that this app is one of their most frequently used tools. They attribute its popularity to the high accuracy of its integrated maps, which, for instance, can precisely indicate whether a pick-up point is on the left or right side of the road. The data is updated swiftly, making it a favorite among both drivers and passengers. The user interface is available in various languages, making it simple and easy to use.

Uber operates in over 700 cities across the globe. In many places, drivers use their personal vehicles for rides, but in Japan, due to strict regulations, only licensed taxi services can join the platform. The service covers key urban areas including Tokyo, Yokohama, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. To use the service, you need to download the app and sign up by providing your email address and phone number. You will also need to enter credit card details for making electronic payments.

When you're ready to ride, simply input your desired destination and where you'd like to be picked up. The app then finds available taxis nearby. While you wait, you can track the approaching taxi's location directly on your smartphone.

Japan Travel by NAVITIME App

For travelers heading to Japan, the NAVITIME app is a must-have, simplifying every aspect of your journey. This user-friendly app, praised for its route planning and comprehensive transportation guidance, helps you navigate Japan with ease. Available for both iOS and Android, NAVITIME offers a wealth of features to make your trip seamless and enjoyable. Downloading NAVITIME is straightforward. Search for it in the App Store or Google Play, download, and customize it to your preferences, including language and areas of Japan you plan to visit. It's known for its precise trip planning, taking into account any tourist passes like the Japan Rail Pass, offering a feature to build your itinerary, and providing detailed maps in English. This makes exploring Japan's attractions, finding Wi-Fi spots, ATMs, and eateries effortless.

Key features include:

  • Route Search & Planning: Enter your start and end points along with your preferred arrival time to get a selection of routes, including JR Pass-friendly options to help save money.
  • Train Timetables: Stay updated with the latest schedules for JR and private railways, ensuring efficient travel planning.
  • Offline Maps: Detailed maps of Japan are available offline, showing landmarks to help you find your way without needing internet access.
  • Multilingual Support: The app caters to a global audience with support in English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.
  • Travel Guides: Explore articles on Japanese culture and travel tips, enhancing your visit.

Stay Connected for Your Japan Travel!

As mentioned before, a lot of Japan travel apps are not available when offline. So I'm here to recommend you the eSIM me and my friends used many times during our travel to Japan. Internet connection of this eSIM is fast and it actually feels way better than hotel WiFi. It is so easy to install. You just need to follow the simple steps stated in the following blog, then you can stay connected for the whole trip to Japan!
  • If you are going to Japan, eSIM is a must! We explain how to choose Japan eSIM and its advantages and disadvantages

User Comments

Immediately after purchasing esim, add esim to the mobile phone. When the plane landed, there was data immediately on the runway, and the signal received was from Softbank. The whole journey signal and speed were very good. I bought 2Gb every day, no speed dropped, 2Gb can't be used up at all.
I went to see my boyfriend in Japan :) Because it was my first time using this, I was worried about it, but it was not difficult to install it and I was able to walk around well! The Internet went well and the speed was not slow! The instructions on how to use it are written in the explanation, and it was easy to access because it came out just by searching on the Internet :)
It was great to register after scanning the QR code in advance before arriving locally and convert it to data travel roaming immediately upon arrival, the speed was good and it was very convenient to use !! 👍

Japan Travel App: Hotels & Flights

Trip.com

Website | iOS | Android

Trip.com, which you might remember as Ctrip, becomes an indispensable tool for your trip to Japan, and it's all conveniently in English. I've found it pretty useful for organizing various aspects of travel, including booking tours, accommodations, flights, transfers, and even deals on Disney tickets.

As a leading travel platform, Trip.com offers a great variety of services such as hotel reservations, transportation tickets, and comprehensive tour packages. Boasting partnerships with over 1.4 million hotels across 200 countries, it offers a wide range of lodging options and exclusive discounts. Its extensive flight network includes more than 2 million routes, connecting over 5,000 cities worldwide.

Paired with 24/7 customer support in English and a number of additional travel products, Trip.com is a reliable ally for planning your upcoming adventures in Japan!

Japan Travel App: Food

Gourmet Navigator (GuruNavi)

GuruNavi, short for Gourmet Navigator, boils down its essence to one simple phrase: "Restaurants at your fingertip." Launched in 1996, it has grown to support not just diners but also restaurants through online services, promotions, and management advice. Here's a breakdown of what makes GuruNavi stand out:

  • Easy Search: GuruNavi lets you find restaurants by location or type of cuisine, offering access to a wide range of dining experiences.
  • Curated Recommendations: The app highlights top restaurants based on their popularity and the type of cuisine they offer, helping you make informed choices about where to eat.
  • Multilingual Menus: Understanding the menu is crucial, and GuruNavi provides this information in multiple languages, including English, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), and Korean.
  • Direct Reservations: Once you've chosen a restaurant, you can book directly through the app. This feature simplifies the process, especially for first-timers, by allowing you to select a set menu and pay in advance.

With GuruNavi, you're spoilt for choice, with access to a database of over 50,000 restaurants, whether you're craving local dishes or international flavors. Find the perfect spot by location or cuisine type. The only catch? The app is in Japanese. But, if you've been brushing up on your Japanese, you'll find GuruNavi really handy!

Ramen Beast

Get up to speed with Japan's ramen culture through an app that's a dream come true for noodle enthusiasts! It's hard to imagine, but the creators sampled over 10,000 ramen dishes to bring this app to life. Dubbed Ramen Beast, this app is your reliable guide to discovering your next ramen adventure. It's crafted for the culinary explorer, featuring a curated list of top-notch ramen joints throughout Japan. Navigate easily with a map that pinpoints ramen spots near you, delve into ratings and details right from your phone, and effortlessly pick where to head for your ramen fix next. Ready to explore?

Yelp

Yelp, the renowned platform for user-generated reviews, has officially landed in Japan! If you're on the hunt for your next dining experience while roaming around Japan, Yelp is your go-to resource. This app simplifies the process of finding your next meal by allowing you to book tables, order food for delivery or pickup, all directly through your smartphone. Beyond just eateries, Yelp also helps you discover local businesses like beauty salons and spas, complete with reviews to guide your choices.

Japan Travel App: Safety

NERV

Whether you're moving to Japan or just touring, staying updated on natural disaster preparedness is crucial. In cities filled with skyscrapers, knowing what to do in the event of an earthquake is essential.

NERV, a smartphone service designed to deliver precise emergency updates. Created for those residing in or visiting disaster-prone areas, NERV aims to swiftly inform users about emergencies, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and other weather-related dangers.

With location-based alerts, it ensures you're well-informed on how to sidestep potential hazards. With NERV, there's no need to feel anxious about what to do in an emergency situation—help is just a tap away. Ready to feel more secure?

Safety tips

Stay alert and safe during your travels in Japan with this essential information app, designed specifically for international visitors. This innovative app delivers real-time notifications about earthquakes, tsunamis, and various weather conditions across Japan.

Beyond just alerts, the app is packed with features to aid both tourists and expats. It includes an evacuation guide, illustrating step-by-step procedures based on your current situation, useful phrases to gather information from locals, and links to websites for comprehensive disaster-related data. This tool is invaluable for ensuring your safety and preparedness in Japan.

It also supports a wide array of languages including English, Japanese, Hangul, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Portuguese etc.

Japan Travel App: Translation

VoiceTra

Concerned about navigating the language differences in Japan? Look no further than VoiceTra, your personal speech translation assistant. This app breaks down language barriers, offering translation support for over 31 languages. Whether you're navigating public transit, shopping, staying at hotels, or visiting tourist attractions, VoiceTra will interpret your speech and make your communication in Japan really smooth. Ready to bring a digital interpreter with you in Japan? Download!!

Yomiwa

Note that Japanese appears not only when Japanese talk but also shows up in everywhere you go. When visiting a country where the language and surroundings are totally strange to you, everything from street signs to cafe menus might be in Japanese, only sometimes with English translations available. But there's no need to worry! With the Yomiwa app, you're well-equipped to navigate these challenges effortlessly. All it takes is a snapshot of any text you need translated, and the app instantly provides the translation. It's an incredibly useful tool to have, ensuring you're never lost or confused during your travels.

FAQs about Best Japan Travel Apps

  • What app do most Japanese use?

    Up till Now, the most popular apps among Japanese users include Google Chrome, LINE, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, +メッセージ (Plus Message) by NTT DOCOMO, Samsung Internet Browser, Messenger by Meta, Rakuten Link, WhatsApp Messenger, and Yahoo! Browser. LINE, in particular, stands out as a widely used app for calls and messages.
  • What app to download before going to Japan?

    Before traveling to Japan, consider downloading the following essential apps to enhance your trip: Google Maps, Maps.me, Uber, NAVITIME, eSIM, Trip.com, Gourmet Navigator (GuruNavi), Ramen Beast, Yelp, Safety tips, VoiceTra, and Yomiwa. These apps cover various needs from navigation and transportation to food, safety, and language translation.
  • What map app do Japanese use?

    In Japan, Google Maps is extensively used for navigation. It offers detailed directions, including metro and train schedules, along with platform information, making it a reliable tool for getting around.
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