Useful Apps for Visiting Japan

These apps are all really useful for planning your Japan trip and while you’re there.

Dr Moku

Learn Hiragana & Katakana with Dr. Moku

The Japanese language uses 3 alphabets and it’s well worth learning hiragana and katakana before you leave as you’ll be able to spell out brand names, place names, foods etc. These handy apps from Dr Moku use pictorial mnemonics to help get them stuck in your brain and it’s incredibly successful. It should only take an hour to get them memorised and then you can test yourself daily as a top up, plus there’s a quick reference page if you need to look up a character on the go. Read my full review »

Get the app: iPhone | Android (Lite versions are free, £7.99/$7.99 for the full version)

google translate app

Google Translate

How did we manage before Google Translate? The web and browser apps are brilliant for translating text but the mobile app is extra useful for languages like Japanese as you can take a photo of the text and get a pretty decent translation. You’ll never be stuck trying to understand a Japanese menu or sign again.

Get the app: iPhone | Android (Free)

hyperdia app

Hyperdia

This app is essential if you’re visiting with Japan Rail Pass and worth getting even if you’re just doing a day trip or moving between Tokyo and Kyoto. It lets you check train, bus, ferry and plane timetables as well as check different routes depending on which services/companies you want to use. It’s available in English and free to use for 30 days so time your download accordingly.

Get the app: iPhone | Android (Free for 30 days)

moshi moshi tokyo app

Moshi Moshi Tokyo

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s fun fashionable guidebook to shopping, eating and having fun in Tokyo is only available in Japanese. However, this app lets you preview the Harajuku section in English and French so you can get some tips and hopefully they’ll add more content in future.

Get the app: iPhone (Free)

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Shinjuku & Tokyo Station maps

You may scoff but Shinjuku and Tokyo are the first and eighth busiest stations in the world with multiple floors and hundreds of exits. You can get by following the signs but it can be very difficult to navigate, plus these will help you find shops, restaurants, toilets etc. The English version launches in late March.

Get the app: iPhone | Android (Free)

teriyaki dining app

Teriyaki

A free “really delicious restaurant guide” app that’s available in English and includes over 1600 restaurants chosen by local food writers, restaurateurs etc.

Get the app: iPhone | Android (Free, in app purchases)

tokyo art beat app

Tokyo Art Beat

Find exhibitions and events around Tokyo. You can search by subject and location and see what’s popular or nearby. It also includes coupons for discounted entry.

Get the app: iPhone | Android (£1.49/$1.99)