Best Train Travel Apps: NAVITIME vs HYPERDIA


When you first arrive in Japan you might be overwhelmed by many things. For me, the two that particularly stood out were; how safe the country felt and how helpful people were. At that time, my Japanese was pretty much nonexistent so I came to rely heavily on helpful train station strangers. Without them I would have never got where I was going. Since then (this was quite a while ago), my Japanese and the ease of traveling as a tourist in Japan have both improved dramatically. For my Japanese, I owe my friends. For the improvement of train travel, this comes down to the addition of romanized signs at most all major stations and to some very handy smartphone TRAIN APPS.



NAVITIME is probably the most popular of the two apps. The basic app is free but has the option for a paid upgrade. I have been using the free one for some time now and have never felt the need to purchase the upgrade. The NAVITIME interface is beautifully designed and color coded for ease. Once you enter your departure station and arrival station the app will show you basic info: journey time, distance, fare and whether or not you’ll need to transfer. What I personally love is the additional information that NAVITIME offers, such as which is the best train car to be in when you need to change trains and when to stay on the train. The Spot Search section of the app also shows users the locations of free wifi, money exchange, atms, tourist information counters and stations nearest to them.


While I love the NAVITIME interface, the app offers a lot more than just train information. Although this may not be a ‘con’ for most, if train times is all you are after, navigation through the site may end up costing you your precious last train. Also, while I have hopes for the inclusion of Osaka in the future, at the moment, the super convenient touch map is currently only available for Tokyo.



HYPERDIA is very easy-to-use and as it only provides train information it’s super fast to find what you are looking for. Like NAVITIME, once you enter your departure station and arrival station the app will tell you journey time, distance, fare and whether or not you need to transfer. HYPERDIA also has a super easy voice recording option, this can come in handy if you know a station’s name but aren’t exactly sure how to spell it. In addition, HYPERDIA saves your most recent searches so that you can come back to them easily.


Unlike NAVITIME, HYPERDIA’s interface is quite dated. I also really don’t like that after you enter a station you need to go back to the main screen every time. Also without color coding the train lines, it is more difficult to understand which train is which as well as which is a train and which is a subway. 

Google Maps is also an option when searching train routes. While I like Google Maps for searching directions I find that it often lacks important train information, such as the platform numbers and information about delays.

Hope this will help you get around Osaka more easily, so you can spend less time in a station and more time seeing the sites of the city!