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Must have apps when travelling to Japan

The Must have Apps when travelling to Japan
There used to be a time when people would go travelling; they would travel with heavy books about their destination. One would include all the sights, the second one would be a dictionary to make sure to explain yourself and other booklet filled with all the information on your bookings.
But paper guidebooks are no longer necessary with the current technology of tablets, laptops and smartphones and we are grateful for this amazing advancement.
 
Especially in Japan, one of the most gadget-loving countries in the world, the use of your smartphone will save your day. 
 
In order for you to travel light and easy I have created a list with the most useful and personal favourites for your travels to Japan. I can assure you, after downloading these babies, you will be ready for anything and you will be able to enjoy your trip to Japan to the fullest.

Transportation

Tripit - Source: aphroditerentals8509.wordpress.com

1. Tripit
Tripit is an app I have only recently discovered. I never felt much of a need to have an app to store all my trip information like flight tickets/ times train tickets and hotel bookings. However, since I started planning a massive backpacking trip around Japan this trip has helped me a lot. You download the app, sign up for an account and forward your booking confirmations to the special email address and all your bookings will be stored OFFLINE inside the app.

Hyperdia - Source: makimountain.com

2. Hyperdia
Hyperdia is probably one of the most famous apps for Japanese transports. You can search the quickest and cheapest way to move around Japan from Train/Bus Station to the other. However, since this app is entirely in Japanese this app just doesn't work for me, since my Japanese isn't that high level. For all those having the same problem I suggest using the equivalent www.Hyperdia.com/en which is able to provide the information in English!

Maps.me - Source: Thenextweb,com

3. Maps.me
Maps.me is my personal favourite. This app is not focused solely on Japan and therefore can be usefull during any trip or during any time. This app is convenient because you are able to save maps offline (like Japan) and you will be able to view them online and even search addresses and other points of interests. Also, you can pin your favourite addresses and are able to pin addresses before your trip, making it easier to navigate your way around the difficult Japanese Kanji.

5. Japan Rail
Japan Rail is a beautifully designed app to navigate your way around the train/metro network in Japan. Especially useful for the Tokyo area, where you can easily nagivate your way around the Yamanote train and find the right rails to take to get to your destination.
However, the app has more. Not only does it navigate around Tokyo, rail maps of all over Japan are available making it a not to miss useful app. Not to forget, it also has an offline version, making it accessible almost anywhere as long as your phone is charged.

Food, Souvenirs, Discounts
1.      GuruNavi
GuruNavi is the no.1 app to find the best place to eat while in Japan. This app is amazing, because it is aimed towards Japanese citizens and therefore also reviews the lesser-known tourist places. What is even more amazing about this app is the fact that you can see how you have to pay your bill (so you will know to bring a credit card or cash) and how much a visit to the restaurant will costs you. Even though this website is not aimed towards discount, if you use it correctly you might find yourself some great eat deals and book them straight away.
 

Tax-free shop symbol - Source: bubbagump.jp
2. Tokyo Tax-Free
This app is available for Tokyo, but also a lot of other cities in Japan. You need to have this app if you are looking to get the best deals on your trip and if you like to take advantage of your temporary stay. 
This is because, a lot of Japanese stores have a tax-free policy for foreigners and when showing your passport you will not have to pay the mandatory tax rate the Japanese do. 
With this app you can find all department stores, fashion stores, souvenir shops etc where the tax-free policy applies!

Wifi
No traveller is complete without their wifi, seems to be the motto in Modern day society. However, in Japan it can be hard to fine free and accessible wifi spots outside of your hotel room and the ever convient Starbucks. Therefore we have put together some apps which can help you finding free wifi all over Japan:
 
1.      Japan Connected-free wi-fi
If you are sick an tired of giving out your email address when you want to use the internet at a public place. Or do you always sing up with: Appleman@apple.com or Randomemail@email.com than this is the app for you. Japan connected Wifi is an app to let you use these ‘free’ wifi hotspots without actually having to sign up. A true relief and therefore an app that musn’t be missed!
 
2.      Travel Japan Wi-Fi 
Another app, possible the most famous one when it comes to free wifi around Japan is the Travel Japan Wi-Fi app. This app let’s you connect to over 200K+ Wifi hotspots all across Japan, again without having to sign up first. Because the above apps look pretty similar I have no preference for either one. Both are amazing! 

Other

Line
1.      Line –What whatsapp is to the American/Western world, Line is to Japan. Almost all people in Japan having a smartphone have installed line to communicate/ chat with each other. However, Line is also used to make reservations online. 
 
2.      JED -  Personally I find this the best Japanese dictionary app to date and I have tried a lot of them. JED might have a very easy layout, but that is what makes it so simple to use. You can simply type in the phonetic Japanese or the English word and you will find the equivalent in the other language. Another great feature is that is explains the Kanji of the words and even shows you stroke order so you can start practicing yourself. Besides the Latin word search, you can also search Kanji by radicals, so the difficult to read Kanji on the side of the street can be easily translated by using this app. I recommend this app to anyone, however for those not knowing ANYTHING about the Japanese writing systems/ Japanese words, this might not be the best app for you.
 
3.      B12 –Japanese love to take selfies and with the selfiegenic camera of B12, your selfies will rise to the upper level of the cuteness scale. B12 is a popular app in Japan and by applying ‘Japanified’ Instagram-like filters, everyone can get a picture perfect shot.

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Comments

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6 comments

Hi Mieke, which JR rail app is it that you mention above, as i cant find one specific to JR Rail, only others such as JR East, JR West etc.

I used Japan Rail Map - Tokyo & Osaka area

I'm going to Japan next week. I'll be sure to check these apps out! Thank you for sharing! 😄

google map will do

Unfortunately GM doesn't Always work offline. Besides, the app I featured here has maps with home numbers on them. A feature I Miss with GM.
However these are Just suggestions. Feel free to find the app Most suited for you.