The Best 5 Travel Apps For Surviving Japan
In a country like Japan, it’s quite easy to get lost. This could be through not finding your way or getting lost in translation. During my stay in Japan, I tested out several apps that saved me from getting lost on multiple occasions and I’m going to share these with you today!
For those who don’t speak or understand Japanese at all, I’ve got your back! Since I started my Japanese studies, I’ve been a huge fan of the app Yomiwa. Next to the standard dictionary function, this app also offers a drawing pad, on which you can draw the kanji. Besides this, it also provides a scanning function, with which you can scan words and sentences with your camera and the app will give you the pronunciation (in roman alphabet) and the translation. The later function is my absolute favourite and has saved me countless times. The first time I used this app in Japan was during my first visit to the supermarket when I was trying to figure out if the product was dishwashing soap or a product to clean the bathroom. It turned out to be laundry detergent.
This is by far my favourite dictionary app. This app functions fully without Wi-Fi, so this will help you anywhere you find yourself. The user does require an understanding of hiragana (one of the Japanese alphabets) to use the app, because the pronunciation of words is only displayed in these characters.
Japan may be a very modern country, yet Wi-Fi is a very rare find, even in Tokyo. Some stations may have it and, yes, most convenient stores do too. But you usually need to log into an account and do a whole lot of filling in details, signing and agreeing the T&Cs before you can actually use their Wi-Fi. The app Travel Japan Wi-Fi sets up a new VPN in your phone so you can join certain networks automatically without having to fill in a password. These networks can be found almost anywhere, so you’ll always be able to stay connected.
Back in my home country, I would never rely on Google Maps for anything, because it just didn’t know enough about our transportation system. But in Japan, a day wouldn’t go by when I wouldn’t use this app. All the trains you can take in Japan are listed in the app, so you’ll never be late or lost. No need to install a special Japanese app (even though I know many who have and those apps work well too, but knowledge of Japanese is required).
Line is THE communication app in Japan. It’s kind of the Japanese version of Whatsapp. The Japanese barely use regular text messages or call via the phone function on their smartphones (unless it’s for work). They all use Line for that. That’s why you can often buy SIM cards with only internet data (I used a 3GB internet data SIM card for a whole year and it worked perfectly). Restaurants and shops will often give discounts if you add them on Line. Just scan their QR code that is usually placed at the entrance.
I hope these apps will come in handy for you. Be sure to let us know if you used these apps during your stay in Japan or give us any other app recommendations in the comments!