Living in Japan, especially in Kansai , can be difficult, but the internet has many resources to make things easier. An iPhone or other smart phone can put those resources at your fingertips wherever you find yourself in Japan through a variety of easily downloadable applications.
If you already have an iPhone or are thinking about one, I collected a list of the most useful programs for people living in Kansai. Free apps are labeled, but please follow the links the provided links to check the current prices of the rest.
This list is a companion list to the most useful apps for people living in Japan generally.
The Best Smart Phone Apps for Living in Kansai
What it does: Finding a new place to eat has been made incredibly easy with OpenRice. For newcomers to Japan as well as seasoned locals, this is the go-to app to find new tasty meals guaranteed to tickle your taste buds. The app breaks down dining choices into ramen, sushi/sashimi, cafes, takoyaki, yakiniku, and donburi. Those interested in trying something a bit more elegant, can even browse for Michelin star restaurants.
Why it’s great: OpenRice is incredibly useful especially in a place of such diverse cuisine as Japan. While there are other food apps out there, this app is in English, which makes it really great help for navigating all the food choices available in “Japan’s kitchen” (Osaka). What’s more, there are tons of listings for the Kyoto area, which has its own delicious and unique cuisine. Complete with reviews and prices, each restaurant’s location is on an integrated map along with phone numbers. Another great feature of this app is that it is used all over Asia (China, Thailand, Hong Kong, and more) so if you are going on an adventure, you will be covered when it comes to all the tasty local dishes.
What it does: Finding a good restaurant is sometimes not as easy as it sounds, and trying to find a good vegan or vegetarian restaurant can be a big ask. Happy Cow is a great app that helps animal lovers find vegetarian and vegan restaurants. There are also listings for macrobiotic eateries along with stores that cater to organic food lovers. It is an incredible resource for both vegetarians and the health conscious looking to discover some great places to eat and meet like-minded folk.
Why it’s great: The app provides great suggestions for numerous restaurants in Kansai and beyond. You can adjust the range to locate options nearby or ones off the beaten path, and follow the interactive map with directions and phone numbers to help get you there. There is also website information for the restaurants, cafes, health-food stores, and even vegan hostels available in this app’s comprehensive database. An added bonus is the informative user reviews for each restaurant to help make your choice easier, and also the ability to upload photos of your delicious food. You can store your favorites for future reference and organize restaurants and stores for easy access in time for upcoming trips.
KANSAI Free Wi-Fi (Official)
Using this app, you can easily access free Wi-Fi spots in the Kansai area!
KOBE Official Travel Guide
Great app used when traveling around Kobe. All information about local sites is available offline. And the “spot locator” feature will act like Google Maps to guide the user to the desired location. Maps that have been previously viewed online are cached and can be viewed offline. Popular spots:
• KOBE Free Wi-Fi spots
• KOBE Free Wi-Fi card distribution spots (access card()
• Sightseeing spots
• Train stations
• Visitor centers
• Duty-free stores
Osaka Offline Map Guide Flight
Discover new places, and browse the full-feature offline map on your mobile device. The offline map is high resolution, and can be used without data roaming. Features:
• Complete offline map with GPS geo-location
• Offline list of attractions with descriptions and photos
• Multilingual city information about transport, food, history, airports, and more
• Currency converter
• Multilingual interface
• Hotel deals (online module)
• Things to do and daytrips
• POI finder (hotels, cafes and restaurants, metro stations, taxis, pubs, pharmacies )
• Japanese phrase book (tourist dictionary)
Yes We Kansai – Osaka
An English Guide to all the great places in Osaka!
Tourism app “Kyoto to Tango GO!” features lots of information, including tourist facilities, restaurants, and souvenir shops. The app also has a navigation function using GPS.
Arukumachi KYOTO Route Planner
“Arukumachi KYOTO Route Planner” is an easy-to-use free search application offering information on available routes, timetables and fares for bus and rail services in Kyoto City, simply by entering point of departure and destination.
KANSAI MUSLIM FRIENDLY GUIDE
This guide introduces local hotels and restaurants that have official halal certification or that provide similar services to help Muslim travelers enjoy their stay.