As a self-proclaimed techie and gadget nerd, one of my favorite things to do before traveling to another country is to research the most common or most popular apps there. It not only gives me an interesting perspective into what the everyday citizen likes, but also what they’re concerned about on a daily basis.
Before I touched down in Narita Airport on the outskirts of Tokyo, I compiled a brief list of apps based on recommendations around the web. It didn’t take too long though for me to weasel out the diamonds from the rough and to also come across my own personal favorites. I am proud to present another edition of useful apps for traveling, specially designed for Japan!
LINE (aka WhatsApp)
Many people are familiar with WhatsApp, the mobile messaging app that practically replaces your native text client on your smartphone. But LINE is so much more than a messaging app—it has free voice and video calling in addition to expansive photo and video sharing.
If you’ve read our Top 5 Apps For Traveling in South Korea post, you might be wondering how is this any different from KakaoTalk. The short answer? Not very much. The long answer? LINE and KakaoTalk are competitors and, on the surface, appear to offer the same services but appeal to different market needs. Just know that almost every single person living in Japan uses LINE.
Yomiwa (aka How to Impress Your Japanese Friends)
Yomiwa is easily one of the coolest apps you can have on your phone. Have you mastered reading hiragana but can’t remember kanji to save your life? Have no idea what a Japanese sign says at all? Look no further. Just point your camera at some Japanese text and this app will break things down for you.
This app is not definitely not perfect, but it works remarkably well considering it does not require a WiFi connection (which is a huge plus).
Imiwa (aka the Best Japanese Dictionary App)
If you’ve ever looked into Japanese dictionary apps before, you probably have already heard of Imiwa. This app is notorious as being the best of the best. There is a drawback and no, it doesn’t cost money. The app is only available on iOS devices. At least it’s free though, am I right?
But if you’re an Android user, like myself, then the closest alternative I could find is Jsho (also free!).
Tabimori (aka Your Best Friend)
For your first couple days in Japan, this app will become your new best friend. It has a built in currency converter, weather app, and—most importantly—transfer guide! Navigating the JR lines in Tokyo can be confusing and some other transportation apps can be even more confusing to use.
The great thing about this app is how it helps orient you to your new surroundings and how it combines a lot of useful features in one location.
That wraps up the most useful apps I used when I traveled in Japan. If you found this post helpful, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! Be sure to like our Facebook page for more travel tips and stories.