trick how to use a Japanese GPS

9. confirm and start guidance: use a Japanese GPS

follow this guide and you can do it!

trick how to use a Japanese GPS


or any GPS that is (suddenly) not working in a language you understand

this article shows you a trick that works for every language!


It will not happen to me!

Of course you will book a (camping) car including a GPS that works in English. And usually you will get what you book. Sometimes however, locally, it turns out to be different. It turns out to be a Japanese language GPS. What to do?

Or this happens. You are on the road in the middle of nowhere, and the Japanese GPS which you had set into English mode, suddenly turns back to Japanese. Well, suddenly… Usually after you did something wrong yourself. Which happens to the best of us (..). What to do?

Know the trick to use a Japanese GPS!


How to use a Japanese GPS

It is not very difficult to use a Japanese GPS. The basic functions at least. It will be impossible to use the more fancy extra features though. Find out more basics about navigating by GPS in this previous article. And I suggest you do always bring along a map as your back-up. Best to buy them locally, cheaper and more choice. Even most convenience stores along the major roads have them.


Simple trick to out-smart the language setting

For basic use of any GPS, you do not need to be able to read or understand it’s language. Hearing that language you cannot understand all the time may even get annoying (imagine 50x ‘try to make a U-turn’ in Japanese..). I usually switch it off (which can be a quest in itself).

Here are the simple steps. It may seem many, but actually it is easy


1. start the car/ switch on the GPS. You will now see the map-view, with all its Japanese characters and functions

1. map overview - how to use a Japanese GPS

1. map overview – how to use a Japanese GPS

2. you could be zoomed all the way into your present position (image 2), or not (image 1). If so, zoom out all the way to see where you are and where you want to go. How? Press the scale-button (in image 2 it is the ‘1 km’-button) to see the ‘-‘ button to zoom out with

2. present position zoomed in: use a Japanese GPS

2. present position zoomed in

3. zoom out until you recognise what you see. For Japan for example, you could zoom out until you see the whole island you are on. Or at least zoom out until you see your next destination on the screen

3. zooming out

3. zooming out

4. now, get your next destination in the centre of the screen by moving/swiping the map with your finger.

When you touch the screen, the + or X will appear in the centre of the screen. You want your destination to be right under the + or X. Swipe it there. At this moment, it is still only roughly correct. Let’s make it perfect!

4. point on the map to put +

4. point on the map to put +

5. zoom in again. (with the scale-button ’10km’ and the ‘+’ button). You will see that the + or X stays in the middle of the screen.  But your destination may disappear from the screen! By swiping the screen, you put your destination back in the centre again.

5. zoom in and swipe to centre

5. zoom in and swipe to centre

6. repeat zooming in and swiping the screen until you have the + or X precisely on the spot where you want to be guided to

6. destination is under the +

6. destination is under the +

7. next, press the button in the lower-right corner. It is for every GPS (that I ever saw) in the same place. This will set your mark as ‘your destination.’

7. set as your destination button

7. set as your destination-button

8. you will see the overview of your route

8. overview of your route

8. overview of your route

9. A button will pop up on the right side, or in the middle. Often flashing in red or orange. Press that button to confirm you choice and the guidance will begin. Just follow the directions on the screen as usual and there you are, you now use a Japanese GPS! 🙂

9. confirm and start guidance

9. confirm and start guidance

extra notes:

  • it is easy, but it takes a little practice. Be sure to park on a safe spot and keep calm. It is going to work!
  • you do not always need to zoom all the way in and mark the exact spot. Often, close to where you wish to go is enough. Once you get there, the road signs will guide you further. You will learn this soon enough on the road

Hope this little trick helps you out on the road! Go Camper Japan!



More information:

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