App Day


Today is App Day. Now that I have an iPhone, it’s time to install my apps and to take full advantage of travel apps. I created a “Japan” folder for all my essential apps which includes GoodReader for viewing my travel documents and Photoshop for editing images for my blog. Apps cover everything travelers need from flights, trains, accommodations, restaurants, etc. Travel websites provide lists of essential apps for Japan. Here is my short list.

Google MapsGoogle Maps app has proven to be my most valuable app for traveling in and out of Tokyo and around Japan. In addition to tracking my current location and providing directions to my next destination, Google provides all the travel options I need. Walking is always a part of getting to any destination in Japan. Google Maps maps the entire route with walking instructions included. The most important are the train schedules and connections with accurate arrival, departure and travel times. This app has taken me from one end of Japan to the other. At the end of a day, I take screenshots of the maps and directions for the next day’s itinerary. These images are an essential when wifi is not available. I save pictures of my destinations and use Google street view to familiarize myself with each area. I travel by myself most often. Google Maps has given me confidence that I will get to my destination even after I’ve gotten lost or jumped on the wrong train.

Google Map Example 1

Google Maps directions from Godzilla Store to Nakano Broadway (top to bottom): 1) Travel options with time estimation; 2) Departure options, 3) Train options.

Google Map Example 2

Google Maps directions from Godzilla Store to Nakano Broadway (top to bottom): 1) Walk to Shinjuku Station for Chou Line; 2) Route, time and train.

Google MapsAnother great train website and app is HyperDia. It is mainly for train navigation making it the perfect companion for the Japan Rail Pass. It provides accurate bullet train and non-bullet train routes and schedules across Japan.

Google TranslateGoogle Translate is an app I use almost everyday. Pull out your camera and get a quick rough translation of a restaurant menu and street sign using the “instant camera translation” feature.

Happy CowDays ago I came across, a site for finding vegan and vegetarian restaurants nearby. I used the site to find several spots that I plan to frequent on my trip. There is also an app that covers over 180 countries, Japan included of course.

BalanceFor many trips I’ve watched my friends wave their phones in and out of the Tokyo subway stations. Now that I have an iPhone I can do that too. Today I added the Balance app that provides the balance of my Pasmo card. I also can add it to my Apple Wallet so I can use my iPhone to tap in and out at stations, making it easier and more efficient to get around Tokyo.