Five Free iPhone Apps for Foreigners in Tokyo

By Elisabeth Lambert
September 25, 2013

Japan is one of the most Smartphone-saturated countries in the world, and most of us gaijin are just as guilty of app addiction as our Japanese counterparts. But because of the high rate of cell phone usage here, we also have our choice of some of the world's most useful—and sometimes just plain goofy—applications. Read on for five of my personal favorites.

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Covering over 1,300 stations and 110 lines in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama, is a solid lifeline when tackling the rail system of Tokyo and its surroundings. You can figure out train routes and access information including travel time, distance, and price. Easier to use than any rail map, I recommended for expats and tourists, particularly as you don’t need network coverage to access the app’s information either.

2. Japanese Translator

You can leave the phrase book at home with this extremely handy app. Translating between English (or other languages) and Japanese (whether it be romaji, hiragana, katakana, kanji or furigana), the app also has audio, a history of what you have translated, and a “roll the dice” option that translates random words and helps boost your vocab.

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3. EcoData: Radiation Lite

There is definitely some confusion in Japan (and the rest of the world) surrounding the events at Fukushima’s nuclear plant, and the resulting levels of radiation that are now in the air. This app will give you a good idea of radiation levels in various parts of Japan, including Tokyo and numerous areas within Fukushima. Displaying levels of radioactivity measured by monitoring stations situated all over the world, EcoData: Radiation Lite allows you to also check on the amounts of radiation in other cities and countries that may be of interest to you too. Definitely worth the peace of mind!

4.Fotopedia Japan

Let your travel plans around the country be inspired by the thousands of photographs on Fotopedia Japan. You can view slide shows grouped by destination or tourist attraction. With each photograph, you can access specific information such as background or history, map location, the photographer, and also have the ability to add it to your own personal trip planner. Complete with short photo essays and stories from various Fotopedia contributors, you can’t help but get caught up in the many moments of Japan lying at your fingertips.

5. Kawaii Photo Booth: A Pretty Camera Editor

As we all know, kawaii (cute) makes the world go round­­—well, it does in Japan at least. The title of this app is very self-explanatory, so get your phone cameras ready, snap away, and start adding some harmless kawaii fun to your life. Go on, you know you want to.

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