3 applications for navigating with the iPhone in Japan
Now with the release of the 3G S model, the iPhone has become the handset for businessmen and international travelers. Using the iPhone in Japan can be an amazing tool to navigate around the city. The data roaming charges may be notoriously pricey, but the phone allows you to do basic functions like snapping pics and emailing them to friends back home just on a Wi-Fi connection.
Admittedly, Tokyo is not a big Wi-Fi town, but if you have 3G connectivity, then we recommend the following apps to guide you around the streets of Tokyo.
1. Tokyo Underground
Most travellers traditionally use the miniscule train and subway map when trying to navigate Tokyo's labrynthine transit network, but the Tokyo Underground app (¥115) makes finding the right trains a much easier experience. Although the software mostly focuses on the city's subway routes, it does include some of the more widely-used train lines.
Usability is top-notch, based on a zoomable map that allows you to check out where stations are -- they can pop up on Google Maps -- or figure out your best route to the next destination.
2. Google Maps
Google Maps covers the whole island of Japan, and there's no handier way to locate a hard-to-find spot (pretty much all locations in Tokyo) than by typing in the address and then letting your iPhone guide you there.
The downside is that all maps appear in Japanese, and the search interface can be picky when it comes to typing in addresses in romanized script. But if you can find a way to cope with these issues, there is no more useful app when using the iPhone in Japan.
3. Find! Tokyo
If dealing with maps in Japanese is too much, then Find! Tokyo (¥600) is well worth the price. Not only does the software feature a fully bilingual interface, all the maps -- and there are thousands -- were created specifically for the app. And these maps are included inside the software itself, so there's no need to connect to any network to access the info.
Find! Tokyo even includes maps for some of Tokyo's largest train and subway stations, to help you navigate their complex layouts.