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Special Feature: Top Ten Must Have Applications…

 for Android phone users (with some iPhone suggestions)


Okay, you’ve finally got your residence card, so at last you can get your phone. Now to put that baby to use! Here are the top ten applications I think you need for your stay in Japan. They are in no particular order, but grouped into functional categories.


I own an Android smart phone, and all the apps described here can be found in the Google Play store (for FREE!). Although I do suggest some iPhone compatible applications, I make no guarantees.




line1.  LINE (iPhone compatible)

Stickers! Fill those awkward silences with fun stickers (like emoticons, but not only for emotions) appropriate for virtually any occasion. LINE is the go-to way to chat with your friends, in Japan. You can even use it to make free calls.

Pro tip:

LINE can auto-add people in your contact list, and people with your phone number can add you easily. If you want to keep your students at bay, change your LINE settings under “Friends”.


whatsapp 2.  WhatsApp (iPhone compatible)

Remember those Budweiser commercials where everyone starts saying “Whatssuuuuppp?!!” Well this app has nothing to do with that; it’s a great app to keep in touch with your friends back home by texting for free. Set up group messages to organize meet ups in Hyogo.

Pro tip:

Make sure to include the country code of the phone numbers of your friends back home when you are writing them in your phone address book. Otherwise, Whatsapp won’t add them to your Whatsapp contact list.


snapchat 3.  Snapchat (iPhone compatible)

Your friends will no longer mind when you send that umpteenth photo of your beloved Nyan-chan when you use Snapchat. This app allows you to draw and write on photographs/ videos and send them to multiple contacts to be viewed for a set number of seconds. They won’t automatically be saved to the recipient’s phone, although beware of screenshot capabilities.


Android’s camera is silent on Snapchat, so your Asian addiction to photographing your meals will go unheeded using Snapchat.




jtrains4. Japan Trains

Train navigation is a cinchwith Japan Trains. Type in your departure and arrival stations, when you want leave or arrive by, and all those crazy transfers are clearly laid out for you.Truly an invaluable app, it’ll save you both time and money, not to mention prevent you from getting lost. Be wary of line transfers, you might need to take them at a jog or at least a very brisk walk.


Transferring lines? Click your menu button in the results menu and get the stations mapped out in Google maps for you. It’s a lot easier to make those tight transfers when you have a map to look at– trust me! It’s also great just to view what direction you’re traveling.

You can also go into settings and change it to search for local trains only, useful if you use a Seishun 18 Kippu (a great holiday discount ticket), or to avoid the expensive Shinkansen fare.

Alternative for iPhone users:Hyperdia

The iPhone users I know don’t bother with the app which you have to pay for, and simply use the website (http://www.hyperdia.com/en/).




short google calendar5.   Google Calendar (iPhone compatible)

Not only can you use Google Calendar to organize all your activities by hour, day, or month, but you can also share calendars with other people. As such Hyogo AJET has created a calendar available to all Hyogo JETs and Hyogo Times readers so you can keep up to date with both AJET and other local events in the Kansai region. Sync it across your phones, tablets, and computers so that you’ll always know where to be and when. You can even make a group calendar, so that you can “accidentally” be where your “friends” are…

Protip: The Hyogo AJET Calendar

From a Gmail account, go into the “calendars” section. In the left panel, click the dropdown menu on “Other calendars”, followed by “Add by URL”. Now copy and paste: https://www.google.com/calendar/ical/8mbrd8j6tdhpeppcfdlh23a4l4%40group.calendar.google.com/private-15e194797b9ee4bc576fe2ed1c15cdf8/basic.ics

Alternatively you can view the calendar online at http://goo.gl/8IVAd



6.   Wunderlist (iPhone compatible)

Lists are for the organized. Wunderlist is for the sedulous. Make lists with ease, and stop carrying small scraps of paper in your pocket.

My top list: Weekend travel packing list: toothbrush, phone, phone charger, money, sunglasses, friend.



Japanese Study


jed27. JED (Japanese English Dictionary) (Offline capabilities)

JED is the most comprehensive Japanese- English/ English -Japanese dictionary I’ve comeacross. You can search in romaji, kana, and even kanji. You can also search by parts of speech. Clicking on an entry for a verb provides a list of conjugations.

Pro tip:

I no longer bother looking up kanji by radicals, and use the google translate app instead (see below).

Alternative for iPhone users:

Midori ($7.99 on the US Apple App Store)


googletranslate8. Google translate (iPhone compatible)

What’s the gossip in the teachers’ lounge? What did that public announcement say? How did your student address you in this week’s love letter (probably 恋人)? What application can I use to translate what people say and look up Japanese? One answer: Google translate. It has both a “voice” and a “draw” search. Ask someone to repeat what they said in Japanese to give you a sense of what they said. Write what you see in the draw function to discover meaning behind those mysterious words. It is very forgiving of incorrect stroke order so don’t stress out about it and it has regular text searches as well, if you need that.


In using the “voice” function, ask the speaker to say only one sentence at a time.



ankidroid9. AnkiDroid

Spaced repetition software is all the rage, and this application makes it happen. This is an application version of http://ankisrs.net/ . Spaced repetition, for those who don’t know, is the presentation of flashcards at time increments that match the difficulty of the word. For example, if you say that you find the card you are learning is difficult to recall, the program may present the card once a day, rather than once everyfive days if you said it was easy. This system is supposed to greatly reduce your study time and increase the information that can be studied. There is a database of openly sourced flashcard decks that can be downloaded. AnkiDroid can be used to study anything that uses flashcards.

Recommended decks: romaji to kana (for beginners), Core 2000 and 6000 Vocabulary and Sentences (for intermediate – advance) and Japanese Onomatopoeia (for fun).


tune in10. TuneIn Radio (iPhone compatible)

Learn Japanese, or listen to a familiar accent by tuning in to your favourite radio stations. You don’t need 32GB on your phone when you can stream music from anywhere around the world! Look for local stations to pick up some kansai-ben (the kansai dialect). You can even access a variety of podcasts.

Not so pro tip

I listen to BBC Radio 1 England and NHK Radio 1!



jpmapBonus: JpMapPuzzle(iPhone compatible)

“The best games are the educational ones.”

-       someone’s teacher

You’ll be able to learn the name and location of all forty-seven prefectures in no time when you download this app. Race against your friends to drag the prefectures into the correct location in Japan.

Pro tip: Move the window to give you access to the greatest number of prefectures and skip prefectures that aren’t in that area. You can go back to them after.

P.S. My best time on expert mode is 1’25”98.



by Paige Ngo

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