If you’re using a smartphone, traveling around Japan has never been easier or more convenient! From helping you read Japanese menus to navigating the Japanese train system, here are the must-have apps to make you get the most out of your trip to Japan!
This app is the number one Reference app on the App Store for a reason. Google Translate can translate websites, entire documents, images from your phone’s camera roll, and even spoken real-time audio for 32 different languages. When translating Japanese into your native language you can use the app to take a picture of a word you can’t read, or even try to draw a Kanji symbol, and it will process and translate it. Travel can be stressful if you are visiting a country that doesn’t speak your native language, so you can make your experience much smoother with the help of an app like Google Translate.
Thanks to smartphones, the days of wandering around a city with your eyes glued to a map are over. With Google Maps, you can search for a destination, select a route, and it will give you both a visual and list guide on exactly how to get there. Google Maps provides real-time GPS navigation, traffic, and public transit info, and is especially helpful in navigating the complex Japanese train system.
If you’re not even sure where you’d like to go, Google Maps can help with that too. You can search for nearby places, types of restaurants, or other types of attractions, and Google Maps will search and provide you with nearby results. The vast majority of locations have photos and reviews uploaded by other users, so looking through those will help you make a decision. Then, Google Maps will tell you how to get there! It’s an absolutely essential app for making sure your trip to Japan is as smooth and well-planned as possible.
Japan Free Wifi
This free app was created by the Japanese government to help foreign tourists find free Wifi hotspots wherever they go in Japan. The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) worked with three major Wifi providers Softbank, NTT, and Wire and Wireless Co., Ltd. to find and label over 500,000 free Wifi locations across Japan. You can find them by searching in a city or major location, or even use your phone’s GPS location services to find a hotspot close to you. Having Internet access while you’re traveling is essential these days, so when you visit Japan, be sure to download this app and register your email address with it before you go!
Download for free here.
Before visiting Japan, it is strongly encouraged that you pick up a few key phrases to help you in your travels. Traveler’s Japanese is a free app that you can use to learn and memorize easy Japanese phrases for a variety of traveling situations. The app was designed by an experienced native Japanese teacher, and includes a complete list of all phrases (in both rōmaji as a guide for pronunciation, and Hiragana/Katakana & Kanji for written Japanese) and grammar and explanations for each phrase.
This app covers most of the day-to-day situations that a traveler faces. Some of the situations included in the app are how to make a reservation, how to talk in a taxi, hotel, station, restaurant or public places, and what to say when you go out or visit someone’s house. It also includes useful basic Japanese, such as how to pronounce days, weeks, months and more.
You can track your progress through phrase and word quizzes in this app, and Internet connection is not required to use it.
Download for free on the App Store.
NAVITIME Japan Travel
This popular app is like having a travel guide in your pocket. It is often compared to Trip Advisor, but while the reviews for places and restaurants on Trip Advisor are typically written by tourists, the places on NAVITIME are evaluated and recommended by locals. NAVITIME does not require Internet access to be used, which is helpful when traveling. And, in addition to just ratings and reviews, NAVITIME also provides in-depth information on Japanese culture, which will help you get the most out of your experience in Japan!
There are many types of festivals in Japan, such as very traditional rituals held at shrines, fireworks, spring flower festivals, summer bon-dance festivals and local food events. Some of them are annual, occurring every year on the same fixed date, while others are decided several months before the festival day. When you visit Japan, you don’t want to miss participating in any of the Omatsuri because you’ll find more interesting facts about Japan by joining them. This app will help you to find interesting Japanese festivals before and even during your visit in Japan.
You can search Omatsuri by dates, regions, and types of festivals, and then read the Omatsuri details in either English or Japanese. You can also share your favorite matsuri with your friends or family, and even schedule it in your digital calendar as well. And, you can bookmark your favorite Matsuri and leave your rates and comments if you create an account!
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