Tokyo can be a complicated town even for locals, so those foreign visitors that head to Japan's capital city might find it overwhelming if they are not prepared for it. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps to help travellers navigate their way around the city.
Kotoba Dictionary App
Kotoba is a free dictionary app for iPhone and Android phones that is easily considered the best dictionary app available for Japanese, French and German. However, the downside of this great app is that it is a particularly large file. So for those with limited space or download speed, it may be a bit troublesome to put on a phone – but it is well worth it.
One of the many nice features includes the ability to copy and paste a result into Google and search it. So if you figure out that a phrase is actually the name of a restaurant, you can find it on Google. However, the best feature is its Kanji recognition system. Users can open it up, draw the Kanji character and it will propose the different possible interpretations. It also recognizes Hiragana and Katakana characters, but Kanji is much more likely to be seen in Tokyo. Combined with this feature and the sheer amount of Japanese words and terms within, Kotoba is a must-have for those visiting Tokyo.
Japanese Speak Pad
Making at least an effort to speak the language is a great sign of respect in Japan. However, instead of learning thousands of unnecessary words from a book – and the wrong pronunciations to boot – try the free Japanese Speak Pad app for iPhone and Android phones. The free version offers up all the essential phrases visitors – and they’re spoken to the user, so you can learn the phrase with the proper pronunciation.
The free version is great for short trips to Tokyo, but the full version for $2.99 is definitely worth the investment for longer trips. It allows the user it speak a Japanese phrase and have it translated. This is a useful feature for when you just cannot grasp what someone is saying to you. This spoken translator also works in reverse, so you can input what you want to say and have it translated into Japanese.
Alternatively, the free Google Translate app also has the same function, but without the dictionary of helpful phrases. However, what makes the full version of Japanese Speak Pad better than Google Translate is that it is always as accurate as possible. Google Translate more often than not spits out broken Japanese when translated from English (especially when it detects conjunctions) unlike the very intelligent Japanese Speak Pad.
TeePee is a comprehensive guide app for stuff to do in Tokyo. This app is available for iPhone and Android phones for an affordable $0.99 after a much needed price drop from $6.99. This app allows you to open it and choose from four different genres that include Eat, Stay, Play, and Shop. It compiles a full list of nearby shops, temples, restaurants, bars and activities near a user's geographic location. Users can also choose from a variety of situations like dating, travelling or searching for souvenirs. TeePee guarantees that all locations are accurate and features only real comments from other TeePee users that have been there. These comments include helpful information and pictures of the location.
Tokyo Metro Map
Tokyo Metro Map popular with the Tokyo locals. Costing just $0.99, it is only available for iPhone users. The map shows the location of every train station in Tokyo, train times, route details and whether they are on time or delayed.
As the Metro is the fastest way to travel around the various districts of Tokyo, visitors who want to see the entire city must take advantage of this app. It is much easier than trying to translate the train schedule at the station. The app also locates the nearest Metro station, has a very helpful tool that allows you to plan a trip and helps you to find the fastest Metro routes.
For an Android version of this app, check out the Tokyo Metro Japan Subway app, which is free. This app has much of the functionality of the iPhone app, including train routes, times and Metro locations, but it does not have the ability to plan trips.
Tokyo Mtrip Travel Guide App
Tokyo Mtrip is a travel guide app for iPhone and Android phones that showcases all the great destinations within the city. Unlike TeePee it doesn't show what attractions are near a person's destination, but it allows them to plan trips around the city by hitting certain venues.
The nice feature of the Mtrip app is that is a 100 per cent offline app that doesn't need network connectivity to function – preventing those unwanted roaming fees. The database of locations is stored right within the user's phone.
Mtrip's Genius Tool allows users to build the most personalized trips based on trip dates and travel interests. Users can add museums, festivals, restaurants, bars, hotels and other attractions from Mtrips travel guide to their itinerary. The app will then set the fastest route between them by walking and/or subway.
Hello Japan is a free app for iPhone and Android devices from the website Japan-I. This app is for the Tokyo visitor than needs a little something to read on the plane or during their downtime. The app compiles a large list of articles about sites within Japan to help visitors choose where they want to visit.
The best part about Hello Japan is that it is not written by some anonymous person that has never even been to Japan – it is all written by local residents. After reading many of the articles, visitors to Tokyo will be prepared to deal with anything that this vibrant urban hub can throw at them.
Tokyo Teleport Plus Travel App
The Tokyo Teleport Plus app for iPhone and Android phones comes with the hefty price tag of $9.99, but it is easily the most helpful Tokyo travel guide app available.
Featuring snippets, photo galleries and information on pretty much every attraction within the city, what really makes this app worth the price is its selection of videos. These videos, with excellent hosting and production values, go through everything one could possibly want to do in the city. Starring an instantly likeable girl, the videos go through what to do and how to do it. As Japan is a place where proper etiquette is important in every aspect of life, the host demonstrates how to play Pachinko, pray at a shrine or greet a new person.
It does offer a cheaper $4.99 version that eliminates the videos and just offers the information, but the videos are an important part for those who want to know the proper etiquette for doing pretty much everything.
Wakaru Website Translation App
The ability to navigate a Japanese website is something of an afterthought when visiting Tokyo. Visitors often think they are going to be too busy seeing the sites and experiencing the city to use the internet. However, when they find themselves thinking about going to a restaurant or a bar, they find that their website is in Japanese. This makes reading a menu on the website, seeing descriptions or getting directions a bit difficult. This is where the wonderful Wakaru app comes in. For $4.99, those with Android or iPhone devices can input a Japanese website and have it accurately translated for them.