Free Apps for Life and Travel in JapanCulture
Navitime for Japan Travel
This multipurpose app provides English route information to help travelers navigate the public transport system. It also lets users search for nearby wi-fi spots, ATMs, stations, and restaurants. There is a basic phrasebook along with many articles on useful topics for travelers, including how to use the train or rent a car.
Japan Travel Guide (DiG JAPAN)
This app offers alternate ways of finding the closest ATM or a nearby restaurant. It also gives details about area attractions, stores, and spots to enjoy nightlife. Users should note that coverage is not comprehensive and that the app tends to offer more options in big cities. There are numerous short English articles included on places to visit in different parts of Japan.
Link: DiG JAPAN
Norikae annai (Transfer Guide)
This is the app of choice for many Japanese commuters seeking the best route through the often confusing transport network. The free version of the app is only available in Japanese, thereby requiring some linguistic ability to use, but it is possible to type the names of stations using Roman letters. The app marks suggested routes to show which is cheapest, fastest, or requires fewest changes. Jorudan also produces a paid version called Japan Transit Planner (Google Play / Apple Store). There is also a free English web version.
This is basically an app for finding restaurants. Users can choose a city and district or their current location to search. They can also fine-tune searches by specifying what kind of food they wish to eat, their budget, or whether they want lunch or dinner. There are also options for finding restaurants with menus in English or English-speaking staff.
Well-known as an online tool, the Google Translate app has a few extra features for people on the move. Notably, the latest upgrade has an option for reading and translating text from the real world (such as from a menu). Take a picture for better results. As with the online version, the app struggles with more complex sentences.
NariTra (Narita Airport Translator)
Developed by Narita Airport, this app translates between spoken Japanese and English. Users can also type in phrases for the app to translate. Other language options are spoken Mandarin, Korean, and Indonesian, and it is compatible with written Thai, French, and Spanish. See also the Nippon.com article on free apps for studying Japanese.
This app provides English information about natural disasters in Japan. Users set their location to receive warnings about earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There are also explanations of the seismic intensity scale and volcanic warnings used in Japan along with simple phrases to use in emergencies. The developer RC Solution is known for its popular Japanese-language earthquake app Yurekuru Call.
Link: RC Solution
Japan Life Guide
Based on a website by the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, this practical app offers a broad range of useful information for residents in Japan in 12 foreign languages. Users can find out about everything from marriage and divorce procedures to taxes and pensions. Other topics include dealing with medical issues, getting children into school, and moving house.
Halal Gourmet Japan
This app helps Muslims locate restaurants in different parts of Japan that serve halal food. Users can select from a variety of options, that including Egyptian, Turkish, or Japanese. Another feature gives the location of prayer rooms and provides a digital qibla direction for praying.
Link: Moving SquadAvailability: Android and iOS Google Play link App Store link