Is Tokyo Metro’s Subway Navi App a Keeper?

Navigating through Tokyo’s complicated subway system can be tricky—whether you’re new in town or not (we’re looking at you, Shinjuku Station!)

Tokyo Metro Co launched a free smartphone application at the beginning of the month to help foreign tourists manage their way through the complex web of lines that cross the Japanese capital, covering Tokyo Metro’s nine lines and four lines operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The “Tokyo Subway Navigation for Tourists” app is available on Google Play for Android phones and on Apple’s App Store for iOS devices.

The app, which also can be used offline, will offer directions on how to get between two stations, including all transfer points. Users can also search for the nearest station to 59 famous sightseeing spots including Tokyo Skytree, Sensoji Temple in Asakusa and Shibuya’s “scramble crossing.”

The app is available in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese, to better cater to foreign visitors as the government aims to boost tourism to Japan. This is also in preparation for the influx of tourists ahead and during the 2020 Olympics.

“We have heard complaints from foreign tourists that Tokyo’s network is very complicated and thus difficult to use,” said Tokyo Metro spokesman Seiichi Yoneya said.

“The number of foreign travelers is expected to rise in light of the 2020 Summer Games. We have to offer a guide that enables them to travel the capital easily.”

Tokyo Metro, along with the Tokyo Transportation Bureau, is set to launch three new types of subway passes for tourists from April 22 and can be purchased at Narita Airport and Haneda Airport. The new passes cost 800 yen for one day, 1,200 yen for two days and 1,500 yen for three days. Children ages 12 and below can get them for half the price.

Have you checked the app out on your smartphone yet? How does it stack up against other, more full-featured navigation apps?

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: “Shinjuku” by Shinichi Higashi/Flickr

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