When you finally are on the ground in Tokyo and you want to move around, it’s good to have some guiding support with you. Especially if you like to walk around off the beaten track. Maps can be found in different locations in Tokyo, most commonly you find them outside station and parks, with the one outside the stations being significantly easier to decipher.
So the option then is to carry the map with you at all times, and in this day and age the mobile phone is probably the most popular option, there are however some hard-copy options still in the game, more on that in part 2.
Part 1: The apps
The keyword here is offline, you want to be able to use the map (read app) without an internet connection. One could divide the applications into different areas; pure maps, a map with tourist advice, and transit guides. So which app fulfills the demand for, both being able to function offline and help with one of the three above.
As a pure map application that you can use offline the “Tokyo Travel Guide and Offline City Map” is probably one of the best if not the best. It’s going to take a while to download the whole map but once that is done you have the whole of Tokyo in your pocket. As you can see on the screenshot below, the app casts quite a wide net and zoomed in you get quite a lot of details. Some establishments, such are restaurant, stations, and stores, are also showing up which is a nice bonus.
As for the map that offers tourist advice, you can have a look at Tokyo Handy Guide. It has a bit of a busy interface but offers good advice and offline maps for the main areas and also based on what type of landmark you want to visit, garden, zoos, or other events.
The last apps, to help you navigate the transit system in Tokyo, try either Tabimori or Tokyo Metro Subway Map and Route Planner. Both works offline. Tabimori has some additional features that might come in handy such as weather forecasting (not offline) and exchange rate calculator. Tokyo metro subway map and Route Planner (…ehh from now on TMSMRP) is purely focused on getting you from point A to point B. This is done by clicking on a map or selecting from a list of all the stations in Tokyo. TMSMRP will then give you options to choose a fast or simple route, it does not show you how much it’s going to cost. Tabimori shows you the time it takes to get to where you are going and how much it’s going to cost. Tabimori is then clearly more detailed in its search result while TMSMRP might be a bit more intuitive.
Let us know if there are any apps you are missing so we can refine the list above to be even better.
In the next part, we are taking a step back in and look at what kind of hard-copy alternatives there are to the apps. Stay tuned for that folks!