Easy subway navigation

Getting around Tokyo just got a little bit easier for visitors with the release of Tokyo Metro’s new app, the Subway Navigation for Tourists. This free app allows users to search for transfer information on Tokyo’s Metro and Toei Subway systems.

The user interface is sleek, simple and easy to use, and it offers basic information, that is actually useful even if you’re not a tourist. It automatically lets you know which stations are nearby, and you can simply tap a station to add it to the start or end of your journey. A search pulls up the route you need to take, which it displays in colors of Tokyo’s official subway map. It also lets you know how long the journey will be and offers station exit options for popular tourist spots.

The only drawback is that the app doesn’t cover train lines such as JR, which in combination with the subway makes traveling around Tokyo even more convenient.

Tokyo Subway Navigation for Tourists is free and is currently available in both English and Chinese.

Subway Navigation for Tourists: jtim.es/vyHr3

Take a mini rail trip

The Hara Model Railway Museum opened in Yokohama back in 2012 to exhibit the model train collection of railway enthusiast Nobutaro Hara. Hara’s collection is the largest in the world, and the museum houses around 1,000 of his more than 6,000 model railway items.

Now the museum has released an iPhone app that should excite all train enthusiasts. Designed by creative agency Kayac, the app allows users to experience what it would be like to sit in the driver’s seat of some of the model trains in the Hara collection. You can choose from three types of trains and railway courses, and the view from the driver’s seat is as authentic as it can get — the footage was shot by miniature cameras and is enhanced by appropriate sounds.

It’s a free download via the iTunes App Store, and if you show the app on your phone when visiting the museum, you can get a ¥100 discount on entry until May 6.

Hara Model Railway Museum app: jtim.es/vyHyy

Newborns should listen to their mother

If you’re pregnant and worried about the prospect of being unable to stop your baby from crying after it is born, Takara Tomy may have a solution. The Japanese toy manufacturer has invented the Sound Diary, a device that allows pregnant mothers to record and save sounds that her baby can hear while inside her, by pressing it against her stomach.

Such a recording is not only an unusual memento of pregnancy, but when played back to distressed newborns it is also an effective way of calming them. The recording device also comes with preinstalled classical music, such as that of Mozart, Brahms and Schubert, which can be mixed with the recorded sounds.

Takara Tomy plans to release The Sound Diary at the end of May, and will be available for ¥7,538.

Takara Tomy: jtim.es/vyHD4

Sewing on the go

Taking care of unraveling seams of shirts or pants is usually something you have to put off until the weekend when you can pull the sewing machine out of the cupboard — that’s if you even have a sewing machine. For those who are less patient, or simply have no room for a cumbersome machinery, the USB- and battery-enabled Minimachine tool by Thanko lets you sew on the go.

To use the Minimachine, all you need to do is thread it, clip in the fabric and switch it on. It is handheld and not only looks like an oversized stapler, but sort of works like one. To power it, it takes four AA batteries, or you just connect it to a computer via USB cable.

Despite its compact size (38×210 mm), this mini sewing machine can stitch up a variety of fabrics, including thick denim, says Thanko — and it’s only ¥2,480.

Minimachine: www.thanko.jp/product/5102.html

Darth Vader’s lightsaber wields real power

For all the “Star Wars” fans out there, Genesis Company has come up with a rechargeable portable battery that looks like Darth Vader’s lightsaber. Half the size of a “real” lightsaber handle, the battery is 16 cm long and 92 grams in weight.

It comes with a USB cable for charging via a computer, and it has red LED lights at its blade end, which flash in different patterns to indicate how much battery power is left. A fully charged lightsaber can recharge your smartphone once or twice depending on the type of phone.

Available for ¥8,100 at the Runat online shop, the Darth Vader Lightsaber 2800mAh Power Bank can be preordered to be shipped from the end of April.

Darth Vader Lightsaber 2800mAh Power Bank: jtim.es/vyHGb

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