After living here for a while, here are the apps I suggest you install on your smartphone if you’re planning to visit Tokyo or live here for a while.
Yurekuru Callwill alert you in case of an earthquake. You can customise the setting depending on the area you’re staying in and whether you wish to receive earthquake and tsunami information. You may want to change settings to manner mode when you’re on a train or public spaces.
When you visualise the map, the app will give you the intensity of the earthquake based on the Japanese scale. If you open the list and click on an entry, it will display date, epicenter, Japanese intensity, magnitude and whether there are warnings connected to that earthquake.
The +Sonae tab has basic information on what to do in case of various types of disasters, including earthquake, tsunami, fire, flood and so on.
By clicking on the heart in the top left corner, you can add your name and phone and whether you’re safe or in danger.
I’ve seen a lot of debate on Facebook lately about which transportation app is best for use in Tokyo. Google Maps does a pretty good job in showing the different options to reach your destinations, as well as suggest which station exit is more convenient (which is something not all apps will do).
Google Maps has its moments when it may suggest one way streets or more private (or hidden) streets; don’t worry as you can usually go around if you don’t fully trust it. I noticed for myself that the app might show different journeys when using two different phones even with the same account, or show slightly different journeys depending on the time of day, when it really shouldn’t. I’m referring to moments when there are no time or weather related issues.
You might also want to look for some things like restaurants and public toilets in Japanese as it will show more options. Read the reviews if you’re not sure.
Different train and metro lines show well in the app, giving you the entire journey of the train, number and name of stations you will pass and the next train(s) you can get on if you miss yours.
Other useful features include the suggested carriage for easier transfer or exit, total time from point A to point B, delays you may experience and reason, price of the ride and situation at your destination.
Tokyo Metro Maps
This app is available offline and it delivers just that: Tokyo metro maps.
You get four maps. The first is the general metro one with all lines and stations, as well as indications of JR and yurikamome routes.
The second one is for the Toei transportation system, and includes the four Toei subway lines and Toei buses. This map has cute pics of main attractions too.
The third and fourth are maps for the Nippori-toneri Liner and the Toden tram line.
The fifth is Toei buses only, again with cute drawings of the main attraction you’ll find using each line.
It’s a nice app to familiarise with the Tokyo metro and bus system and to doublecheck when you’re not sure Google Maps is 100% correct.
If you don’t know a word of Japanese, Google Translate will be your friend. Although the translations are sometimes weird or use uncommon words, most Japanese people will understand the situation and help. Places like stations, post offices, civic centers and such will likley have a portable translator that staff can use if it gets more complicated.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you will love this app. Happy Cow will show you restaurants, shops, minimarkets, farmers markets, health stores, spas and more directly on a map with pins of different colors.
You can also look for gluten free places and regular restaurants and shops with vegan options.
Other filters include accessibility, wi-fi and whether you need or can make advance booking, and types of cuisine, take away, macrobiotic, fast food and a lot more.
When you click on a pin, the tab will show pics, name, reviews, type, distance and opening hours.
Recommended to those who have a Japanese phone number. You can pinpoint your location on the map or use the search option for pickup. You can choose to enter your destination at the same time you book a taxi or later; it’s ok to tell the driver when you get on the car.
For payment, you can choose in car payments (contants or cards) or register your preferred method on the app.
In the reservation tab, you can make reservations up to 7 days from the present date. An airport flat rate is available if you choose the airport as your destination.
The app also has a list of taxi companies for prefectures where the app is available for use.
If it’s your first time using the Go Taxi app, you can use my referral code mf-fgw5hk to receive a 2.000 yen discount when you book a taxi.
Kantan netprint (かんたんnetprint) is 7-11 app for printing pictures and documents. Although the app itself is in Japanese, it’s intuitive to use (take screenshots to Google Translate if lost) and the actual printers have an English option.
When you open the app, click on the + and you’ll get three options. The first is for pictures, the second for documents and the third to import from another app. Once you’ve selected the file you want to print, you can choose size, color, number of copies. Click on the kanji in the upper right side to proceed.
You’ll get a code you’ll have to input in the netprint option of the printer, and the validity period for each code.