TripIt: travel itinerary planning. I actually don't really like to plan my vacation day-by-day and follow a schedule. I feel like vacation is when you should have an idea of what's in each area and how to get there and then just get each morning and decide: "what do I want to do today?" So I love TripIt because I can create “day itineraries” but actually just use them as “area itineraries,” so when we get up in the morning and decide where we want to go, I just flip to the area (day) on my TripIt and voila! There is all the information I need, like things I wanted to see there with addresses and which trains to take (for the lazy person in me lol) for the fastest route. I love it because then I won’t miss the notable places/foods in that particular area. I just hate it when I’ve gone to one area and then realize that I’ve missed a great melon pan place that’s there. Sad life.
Line: free calls and messaging to other Line users over WiFi. Very convenient! Especially because I try to get together with my Japan friends while I’m there and this is an easy way to create a group message and make plans. It’s also a great app to use to keep in contact with your travel buddies if you get separated.
Google Maps: One thing I always do before going to Japan is finding all the places I want to go (or important places like the airport, hotel, major stations, etc.) and marking it as a favorite (starring it) on Google Maps so I can easily navigate to it when I’m there. Google Maps is really easy to use because it'll show you the public transit route to take, with the fare amount and which train to take--and in which direction ("towards Tokyo Station") or which platform to go to. Train times are very accurate as well. I also use it to mark my favorite places so I remember where they are the next time I return to the area. So convenient!
Google Translate: I don't really use this app, but I know it may come in handy for non-native speaking travelers to many countries. Although Google Translate doesn't do a perfect job of translation, it gets the general idea (most of the time). The reason why I listed this app is because it offers a photo option, whereby you can take a photo of the text (on a sign or menu) you'd like to translate into English (or your native language). Convenient, no? Now if only Google Translate could work on slightly improving the accuracy of their translations...lol.
Snapseed: A great photo editing app with lots of features, perfect for prepping your photos for social media. :)
Yelp: Helps to find some food suggestions. By no means am I suggesting you should limit yourself to the options listed on Yelp. I use Yelp to gain some ideas of what types of food are popular and in the area I'm in. Honestly, some of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants I've been to, I actually wandered by and discovered it, sometimes even while trying to find a different restaurant that I discovered on Yelp. Who would've thought? Haha!
Gurunavi: Restaurant guide with coupons and deals! Gurunavi is specifically for Japan. It allows you to filter your search by selecting your location (you can select "current location"), the category of food/restaurant you're interested in (casual dining, all you can eat, sushi, yakiniku, etc), lunch or dinner, a price range, and additional options like whether they have English menus or English speaking staff, if there are coupons available, if it's good for families, etc. I’ve gotten some great deals from this app so it’s forever found a home on my phone. Lol!
Honestly, I do believe that you can get a great, authentic dining experience while just wandering around and checking out a place that looks interesting. I’ve found my favorite melon pan ice cream truck in Osaka in this way :D