The author Donald Richie once said, “Japan never considers time together as time wasted. Rather, it is time invested.”
When you invest your time in traveling Japan and spending time with Japanese people, you go about unlocking secrets of one of the most ancient and intriguing civilizations in the world.
Traveling to Japan will give you wisdom about the history, politics and cultural perspectives of Japanese society.
To maximize your time investment, you need to make sure you’re coming to Japan well prepared for the adventure you’re about to face. That’s where Japan travel apps come in!
All the travel apps on this list are specifically for Android devices.
Why Use Japanese Travel Apps for Android?
Japan is one of the oldest countries in the world. As such, its people have developed their own systems and their own ways of using technology to serve the needs of their people.
When we as foreigners enter their country, we need to make sure we’re doing so from a place of intelligence so that we can effectively mingle and mix with the culture in a way that is fluid, efficient and culturally appropriate.
We wouldn’t want to find ourselves at the airport with no aim, no direction and no idea why we’re there or what to do. We need to solidify our purposes.
And using travel apps can us help with a few things:
- Learn the language. Not many people in Japan speak a language other than Japanese—including English. If you want to get around the country without too much hassle, you need to learn the local language. Travel apps make learning Japanese really easy, and in some cases, really fun!
- Communicate. It’s necessary to communicate with the locals if you want to get the full cultural experience. And as mentioned above, English isn’t always spoken, so having a means of communicating between you and a Japanese person is an essential travel tool. In addition, knowing how Japanese people communicate with each other is a vital piece of information that will make your trip much smoother.
- Get around. Traveling from point A to point B in a foreign land isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. It helps if you know where to go, how to get there and what to do when you get there. Japan has a lot of confusing train and bus schedules. If you can’t read Japanese, there’s virtually no chance you’ll be able to figure it all out with any reasonable amount of speed. Travel apps that help you get around are immensely valuable for getting the most out of such a potentially confusing place.
Want to Travel with Your Android Device? Download These 6 Japan Travel Apps
Click here to join our team!
FluentU is a fun and easy way for Android users to learn conversational Japanese.
This app is a godsend for people who want to study the Japanese language before or during their big trip to Japan.
FluentU takes videos directly from Japanese culture—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized Japanese language learning lessons.
It subtitles videos with clickable dictionary definitions. So if you’re watching a TV show with FluentU and want to know how to say a certain phrase, simply click on the text in the video player and receive an instant definition.
At the end of each video, FluentU gives you a quiz to make sure you’ve understood all the necessary information. This is a great way to ensure you’re learning all the important words and grammar patterns from each video.
It’s also a great way to stay updated about all the latest Japanese cultural trends. Hit the ground running by talking about Japanese pop culture… in Japanese… to Japanese people! This will help you make a lot of new Japanese friends really quickly.
FluentU comes with a 15-day free trial. Then it’s $15 per month or $30 per month depending on your plan.
Japan Official Travel App
Japan Official Travel App is an Android application provided by the Japanese National Tourism Organization.
It provides up-to-date information about traveling in Japan. Here you’ll find things like travel guides for all major areas, background information on specific tourist spots and routes to get to certain places.
It also alerts you of any important information that may affect your travels, such as natural disasters or areas of civil unrest.
The app will give you information about how to travel across the country by various modes of transportation, such as train, boat and car. It also gives you point-by-point navigation to help you arrive at your intended destination.
If you really need Wi-Fi, this app provides an offline map showing you all the free Wi-Fi spots in the area, in addition to things like hospitals, tax-free shopping and tourist information centers.
Japan Official Travel App is free.
Japan Travel—Route, Map, JR
The Japan Travel Android app put out by NAVITIME is designed to get you around Japan with efficiency.
It provides an offline map that contains information about how to access currency exchanges, train stations, free Wi-Fi spots and ATMs. Japan Travel then navigates you there using your preferred form of public transportation, and you can save the routes for up to 50 destinations.
It also gives you a lot of cultural advice about topics such as internet speeds in Japan, how to ride the public transportation, etiquette for dining out and how to save money while traveling around the country.
My favorite part of this app is its up-to-date train station information, which is helpful in Japan’s confusing web of subways.
Japan Travel is free. There’s a paid version that offers things like alternate routes and train schedules for $7.99 to $59.99, depending on the plan.
Yomiwa is a great Japanese dictionary app for Android.
Apart from giving you text translations of Japanese, there are options for handwriting translations and camera translations for those times when you don’t know what a particular kanji means.
You can also build vocabulary lists to help you memorize more Japanese words and take your learning to new heights. Yomiwa even lets you export these vocab lists to Anki, a memorization app, so you can supercharge your Japanese language learning.
This app is available in many different languages and offers a great community of support.
Yomiwa is free. There in-app purchases for certain features from $0.99 to $4.49.
MAPS.ME is one of the best offline mapping applications out there.
Its maps are based off of an open-source mapping system called OpenStreetMap (OSM), which has reliable daily contributions from all over the world. OSM gives the app an edge over a lot of other maps, so MAPS.ME often has a lot of unknown tourist spots and off-the-beaten-path places that other traditional maps don’t have.
You can access navigation directions, points of interest information and detailed offline maps, which are then used in conjunction with the GPS signal on your phone.
This is great if you enter Japan and have no data signal or Wi-Fi. You’ll still be able to know exactly where to go and how to get there.
MAPS.ME is free.
LINE is the most popular messaging app in Japan.
It lets you instantly send text, audio, video, GIFs, stickers and files via the internet.
Apart from the messaging service, you can use Line to make free voice calls to other users on the platform.
This is often the only way you’ll be able to connect with your Japanese friends, because many more locals use LINE than WhatsApp or Facebook. And you can always tell your friends and family back home to download LINE so you can share your Japan travel photos and stories with them!
There’s one main feature you’ll find in LINE that you won’t see in other messaging apps: You can sign up with your email address. This means that you don’t need a phone number to use the app. So if you need to reset your phone in Japan or your home country and lose your number, you won’t lose your LINE account.
LINE is free. There are in-app purchases for things like stickers and advanced features ranging from $0.99 to $139.99.
Japan is an amazing place that should be on every traveler’s Asian bucket list.
To get the most out of your Japanese travel experience, take the help of amazing travel apps directly from your Android phone.
And when you do, you’ll quickly realize that your time in Japan is the best investment you’ve ever made!
Eric Michelson is a nomadic, philosophizing, peace-minded pluralist. He hopes to help bridge the divide between the diverse factions of the world by exploring various perspectives brought on by personal experience. You can follow Perspective Earth to learn more about him and his work.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.