To people new to Japan, the Tokyo subway system, stylishly called “Tokyo Metro” is a confusing labyrinth of lines going every which way. Orderly thought and planning, it would appear, seem to be the main ingredients neglected when designing the subway subway system.
Once you live here a bit, you start to understand how things work, but it does take time and you do have to get lost once or twice (or more!) before you start to understand how things work in the Tokyo underground.
Apps To The Rescue
Time was when you had to carry around a subway map with you to get used to the system. Now, in the smartphone era, there are a raft of apps designed to help you keep you on track when navigating the underworld of Tokyo.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are a lot of apps out there that do a lot of things, but I used a common set of criteria (such as data refreshes, offline/online requirements, app feedback, etc.) to judge these apps for recommendation all while focused on the question, “If I knew nothing about Tokyo, what would help me get from Point A to Point B?”.
The top 3 for English-language capable apps for Droid and iOS are:
1) Tokyo Offline Travel Guide. Cost: Free
2) Tokyo Metro. Cost: Free
3) TOKYO Subway Japan Metro HD. Cost: Free
Note: this app has been panned in Google Play as an ad pusher, but it does operate as advertised. Just be careful of the ads.
1) ekipedia Subway Map. Cost: Y300
Probably the best subway map app for the Tokyo Metro out there. Has notations for handicapped/barrier-free facilities as well as a host of other features.
2) Tokyo Rail Map. Cost: Lite version, Free. Full version Y800
The Full version can be used offline; the lite version requires an Internet connection.
3) Tokyo Subway Navigation. Cost: Free
Created by the Tokyo Metro Co., this app gives you timetables as routes, and can be used offline.
Have fun on the Metro!
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