Most Useful Japan Travel Apps in 2024

two weeks japan itinerary tokyo shinjuku

These are 12 Japan travel apps to help you make the best out of your trip and turn you into a Japan pro faster than you can say konnichiwa.

Heading to Japan soon? Lucky you! Japan is surely one of my top 3 favorite destinations in the world. I’ve been twice and can’t wait to go back to explore more!

But let’s be real – navigating such an exotic country can be a headache without the right tools. That’s where mobile apps come in clutch. They can be your trusty sidekicks – no more getting lost in translation or in the network of metros and trains.

Let’s crack on.

  1. Agoda
  2. Airalo
  3. JapanTravel by Navitime
  4. Tabelog
  5. Klook
  6. Google Maps
  7. Papago
  8. SmartEX
  9. NERV
  10. DiDi
  11. HappyCow
  12. ChatGPT
  13. Extra: IC Card

Let’s go into more detail of each one of these now. 👇

japan things to know travel tips shrine
Ready to enter the fascinating parallel world that is Japan?


Agoda App
Credits: Realme Community.

I’m a Booking die-hard fan to book hotels but in Japan the Agoda app gives Booking a run for their money. This hotel booking platform was a gem for securing great rooms at often the best prices during my recent trip.

Agoda has a massive selection of properties all across Japan – from big city hotels and traditional ryokans to budget hostels and Airbnb-style stays. The filtering options are super handy for finding places that fit your needs and budget and helped me pick well-located, quality accommodation without overpaying. Some of the places were not in Booking at all.

The app itself is also incredibly easy to use for searching, booking, and managing reservations.


Airalo App
Credits: Airalo

Who wants to stress out when finding stores that sell SIM cards or specially paying an arm and a leg from your home carrier? Enter Airalo – the eSIM app that lets you snag affordable data plans for travelers. It’s a modern traveler’s best friend for staying connected without going broke.

With Airalo, you can easily purchase and activate virtual SIM data plans for Japan (or anywhere else in the world) directly from your phone. From short 1-day plans to month-long options for longer trips. I booked my 10GB eSIM card even before leaving for Japan and activated when landed in Narita. Simple as that.

3JapanTravel by Navitime

Japan Travel by Navitime
Credits: Navitime.

When traveling within a city, I prefered sticking to Google Maps but in long-distance travel like when planning your itinerary, I can’t praise the Japan Travel by Navitime app enough. I visited many different areas in Japan and it never failed me to help navigate the country’s utterly complex web of trains, subways, and buses with ease.

The detail level is superb. Enter your start and end destinations, and it maps out the best transit routes, timetables, costs, and walking directions to stations – all in English. The interface is really clean and the directions were spot on every time. Everything made to get around shockingly simple.


Tabelog app Japan
Credits: Tabelog

Japan is a ruthless place when it comes to restaurant reviews. A restaurant rated 3.8 that elsewhere would be meh means a pretty solid spot in Japan. As a result, virtually anywhere you eat in Japan will end up being a very good meal.

To find the exceptional food experiences, Google Maps is very helpful but I recommend pairing it with Tabelog. It’s used by locals and allows to make reservations as well, which comes in handy to score amazing meals at high-quality popular restaurants.


Klook App
Credits: Klook

This app and platform connects you to a vast array of experiences across Japan, from off-the-beaten-path adventures to amusement parks and even transport passes.Klook became my best friend.

The mobile app is super user-friendly and makes browsing and booking amazingly simple. Filter activities by interest, location, and budget to help you shape your Japan itinerary.

Consider booking this on Klook ⬇️

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what you can book in Klook for your Japan trip.

  • Universal Studios Day Pass – easy way to book your entry to this ecletic amusement park in Osaka that includes 60+ attractions and Nintendo World.
  • Tokyo Metro Subway Pass – grants unlimited access to move conveniently through Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines for 1-3 days.
  • Shibuya Sky – experience the 360-degree panoramic view of the observation area on top of Shibuya Scramble Square rising 229m above Shibuya.
  • Hakone Freepass Voucher – get to Hakone from Tokyo with unlimited travel on 8 transport systems, including the Hakone Tozan Line, Ropeway, and cruise the Lake Ashi on a pirate ship for stunning views of Mount Fuji.
japan itinerary two weeks for first timers
A 2-week itinerary in Japan

First time in Japan? Know where to go and let me help planning a memorable trip!

6Google Maps

While for longer distances, Navitime is more reliable, when traveling locally, I found Google Maps to give precise directions for both walking and public transportation. From Tokyo’s labyrinthine city streets to the remote mountain temples in Koya-San, Google Maps has always got me covered.

But Google Maps is so much more than just navigation. It also lets you discover points of interest and restaurants, read reviews, check operating hours and find where is the nearest matcha soft cream (guilty!). It’s like having a travel companion in your pocket.


Papago Translation App
Credits: Papago by Naver.

If you’re planning a trip to Japan and your Japanese is a bit, well, non-existent, Papago might just save your skin. Powered by Naver, it does not only handles text, but image too – eg. when you’re staring at a menu that looks more like abstract art!

Now, the real kicker with Papago is its conversation mode. It’s like having that one friend who knows just enough Japanese to get by but fits neatly in your pocket. Just speak into the app and let it do the talking. It’s not perfect—sometimes it gets a bit literal, translating phrases into something that sounds like Yoda-speak—but it’s better than nothing.


Credits: SmartEX app

SmartEX is the secret weapon for navigating Japan’s extensive and intimidating train network. SmartEX does strip away some of the anxiety of dealing with schedules and puzzling over fare maps. I found this app to be a godsend when looking at itineraries and figuring out how to take from point A to point B with precision.

Even better – SmartEX lets you buy Shinkansen (bullet train) tickets right from your phone, bypassing the potentially confusing web of ticket machines and fare adjustments and reserve seats in advance which is a big plus when dealing with high seasons like the Golden Week or busy weekends. It’s linked up with major credit cards and services like Apple Pay.


Nerv Disaster Prevention App
Credits: NERV Disaster Prevention App.

In a country where natural phenomena like earthquakes and typhoons are fairly common, NERV, a disaster prevention app is essentially your early warning buddy in Japan. It alerts users to imminent disasters, providing crucial minutes that can make a big difference when safety is on the line, and has detailed information on what to do before, during, and after each one.

NERV gave me extra peace of mind and helped reduce my anxiety that came with traveling in regions prone to natural disasters. However, I see how NERV can have the opposite effect and actually make people worry more about what might go wrong during their trip. Up to your judgement!


Didi App
Credits: iF Design

I’ll be honest, I sticked with public transportation the whole time in Japan. But if for whatever reason, you need a taxi ride, DiDi comes in handy. DiDi in Japan functions like a local version of Uber, allowing you to snag a ride without the hassle of hailing a cab on the street or figuring out public transport routes.

It’s particularly handy in cities like Tokyo and Osaka, where even though the public transport is top-notch, you might find yourself needing a more direct (albeit more expensive!) ride after a late night out or when you’re lugging around shopping bags.


Let’s face it – Japan is not always easy if you’re a vegetarian. In a sea of sushi, katsu and ramen, even for me – a flexitarian – finding plant-based meals was a challenge.

HappyCow is a must-have app for any traveler who’s seeking meat-free dining options while exploring Japan. Offering reviews and ratings from fellow travelers and locals, giving you the real scoop on which spots are worth your yen and which ones to skip.


Listen, this is the era of AI, so we might as well use it to our advantage right? These days, ChatGPT is my go-to digital travel buddy, a chatty intelligence trained to help with everything from language translation to itinerary planning or simply more information at a particular sight.

In fact, I created a custom GeekyExplorer GPT to get travel tips, photo inspirations, and weird facts. I used it extensively during my time in Japan and highly recommend it. If you have ChatGPT Plus, you can also try it, just search for Geeky Explorer under the “Explore GPTs” section.

13IC Card

Suica IC Card

IC cards are prepaid rechargeable cards used to pay public transportation tickets but also work on convenience stores, vending machines and even game arcades. Each area has its own card in Japan – in Tokyo it’s called Suica card.

I’m a big fan of these cards because of 3 reasons:

  1. They work everywhere in Japan, making it an effective debit card.
  2. If you’re traveling across Japan you can use your Suica card in other cities too.
  3. You can have it on your Apple Wallet – in fact you can get it and charge it through Apple Pay even before you land in Japan.

Getting an IC Card

Physical IC cards are in decline in Japan but you can get an IC Card simply by going to your Wallet app and add a transportation card. Works seamlessly.

Using an IC Card

Once you have preloaded money onto your IC Card, the card works with a simple tap. In train stations, you’ll have to do it on the ticket gates on both the way in and out (fares are not fixed and depend on the length of the journey). You can check the remaining balance on your card as you pass through the gate.

Returning an IC Card

When leaving Japan, you can bring your physical IC card to a station to return you ¥500 deposit and the remaining balance on your card. If you a have digital card, it’s not possible to get a refund on the money.


japan itinerary two weeks for first timers
A 2-week itinerary in Japan for newbies

First time in Japan? Know where to go and let me help planning a memorable trip!

Which other apps you found useful in Japan and that any traveler should know?
Let me know in the comments 👇

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