Stuck at home? Whether it’s due to Covid-19 coronavirus city lockdown or self-quarantine, we hope you are all stocked up on the essentials: food, medicine, toilet paper and plenty of phone data. Smartphones are a huge time sink at work but now it feels like we have all the time in the world – our bosses aren’t watching as we WFH, right?
After you’ve scrolled through your whole Instagram feed, spend some more quality time with your beloved device and collect cats, escape into an animal-filled fantasy world or even make a few bucks with these free mobile apps from Japan. You don't need to know any Japanese to play, but if you're looking to brush up those Nihongo skills, there's an option to switch to the original language.
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Get your phones ready
Remember when Neko Atsume first graced us with its presence in 2014? Well, the cat collecting game is still going strong in Japan. The game is simple: you lure kitties into your yard by placing goodies like cardboard boxes and balls for them to play with. When the felines are satisfied, they’ll leave fish (the local currency) so you can buy more goodies. This adorable, low-tension game is immensely rewarding. The more cats visit, the more goodies you can get for them. Available on iOS and Android.
Jealous of all your Nintendo Switch-owning friends playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons? We are too, so to fill the void until the inevitable Switch purchase, we’re playing a lot of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, a mobile app version of the wholesome life sim. In Pocket Camp, you, the human, will make animal friends, complete tasks for receptionist Isabelle, and design your very own campsite. The Animal Crossing world is a cute, calming bubble you can escape to anytime you open your phone. Available on iOS and Android.
Move over Whatsapp and iMessage; Line is the most popular texting app in Japan. While it's great for messaging and calling, Line is best loved for the variety of cute stickers – some featuring anime and movie characters – that you can send to convey your emotions.
The Line Creators Studio lets you create your own Line stickers on your phone. You can use your own photos as a starting point, or if you’re the artistic type, draw one from scratch. If your sticker is officially approved by Line, you can start selling it in the official Line sticker store. Available on iOS and Android.
72 Seasons brings historical information, poetry and seasonal food and experiences together in a beautifully designed app based on the ancient Japanese calendar. Perfect for lovers of design and Japanese culture, the app updates with new information roughly every four days and is filled with traditional illustrations and gorgeous photography. We downloaded on day 11 and were presented with a philosophical angle on the spring equinox, the history of the first cherry blossoms, a haiku by Ibaraki Kazuo and biological information on seasonal food and plants. Available on iOS and Android.
NHK is Japan’s national broadcasting network and NHK World is its multilingual international arm. Not only does the NHK World Japan app keep you up to date with news and stories in 17 languages, you can also watch subtitled dramas and learn about Japanese language and culture. Best of all, you can watch on your phone or use the app to stream the videos to your TV. Available on iOS and Android.
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