Charisma Navigation

Charisma Navigation

charisma navi car navigation systemsNow visitors to Kyoto have an alternative to tourist maps and confusing signs. Charisma Navigation is the name of a new personal navigation system that helps people find their way around the ancient capital in Japanese, English or Korean.

In the latter half of 2004, the Kyoto Prefectural Government was approached by a group of companies who appeared to have a novel solution for the perennial problem faced by the city’s tourism promotion department – how to make life easier for travelers who don’t speak Japanese.

The system includes a rich database of tourist information that can be downloaded simply into the cell phone and browsed on its relatively large (2.4 inch) QVGA screen. At present, there are over 1,000 destinations registered in the beta-phase database, including natural and historical sightseeing spots, restaurants and bars, and other things to see and do in and around Kyoto.

And the Kyoto Industry and Tourism Bureau believe the device has the potential to triple the number of foreign visitors. The system uses a global positioning system-equipped cell phone together with online mapping technology to help users find places of interest.

Destinations can be searched by type, area or cost, or users can follow a preset recommended route designed to help them make the most of each day of their stay. There are even narrated previews of each route with photos of the various spots along the way. The system includes “EZ Navi Walk,” a pedestrian tourist’s equivalent of a car navigation system that gives detailed instructions based on one’s exact location.

Charisma Navigation is currently undergoing trials, and for the next three months is available for free. For a three-month test period, the Charisma Navigation cell phones are available free of charge (you only have to pay for any international calls you make!) for foreign travelers willing to try the system and complete a simple survey upon its return.  Phones can be picked up at Kansai International Airport, Kyoto train station and a number of other locations in the region.

The Prefecture of Kyoto worked with mobile powerhouse KDDI to create a pocket device with a variety of features useful for visitors: “It’s the first time this kind of system has existed – combining GPS navigation with tourist information content, essential language guidance and the ability to phone an interpreter or for emergency assistance.”

Enter 1. Destination. → Select the 2. Destination. → Press to "go here" 3.. Route guidance will begin with "start route guidance" to get to the destination you decide how to get! Easy to see in three steps

Enter 1. Destination. → Select the 2. Destination. → Press to “go here” 3.. Route guidance will begin with “start route guidance” to get to the destination you decide how to get! Easy to see in three steps


And remember, in Japan, they don’t refer to it as “GPS”, it is “car navigation system”.  In these new devices, the term “Passenger Seat Navi” has been coined to indicate that this is for the person in the passenger seat to determine where to go.

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What is GPS or Car Navigation Systems?

GPS or “Global Positioning Satellite”, called “car navigation system” in Japan, is intended to refer to a receiver that receives specific location information from a group of 24 satellites in the sky.  The GPS Receiver is used to tell a person where they are located as well as to provide directions to any location entered by the user.

In Japan, the term “Passenger Seat Navi”  was coined to refer to the user of GPS or navigation systems by the passenger, allowing the driver to remain 100% focused on the road.

After purchasing a GPS receiver, there are usually no other charges except to update the map system in the unit.


Where do you want to go today?

Where do you want to go today?

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Kyoto, Japan — Prime Tourist Destination


Kyoto, Japan’s prime tourist destination.
Annually, 67 million people visit Kyoto, but only 800 thousand are from overseas.
Language is an obstacle for foreign tourists, limiting their ability to get information or access destinations.
Guidebooks and maps provide only limited information, and are inconvenient to use while en route.
To solve this inconvenience for foreign visitors, the Kyoto Prefecture Government has developed “Charisma Navigation,” a mobile navigation system for tourism that provides you with various information and functions, such as Charisma’s recommended courses with specific theme, searching tourism database, navigating to the destination by bus, subway and on foot with help of GPS, so that you can easily get authentic but local tourism contents in Kyoto and Nara.

  • In “Recommended Courses”, 20 courses (tours) are presented, each having its own theme and being suitable for a day trip.
  • In the “List of Courses,” you can view the contents of a course via a narrated slideshow.
    You can see this slideshow for every course.
  • One course consists of about 8 spots.You can view data for each spot, including a brief description, address, telephone number, menu, etc.Moreover, you can view the location on a map and check out its atmosphere and scenery via beautiful photos.
  • Select “Destination Route,” and GPS will measure your exact location automatically.Then it will show you the most suitable bus route from your present location to the destination.
  • “Easy Navi Walk” will guide you to your destination, plotting the best route along a displayed map. A line on the map shows the route to your destination and voice guidance will inform you in advance when you should turn a corner.
  • Select “Contents Search” in the Main Menu, and you can search from among more than 1000 spots for places to see, to eat, or to buy goods, outside those listed in the course contents.
  • Select “Conversation” from the Main Menu, and basic patterns of conversation will be displayed, which consist of Japanese pronunciations and meanings in English.
  • Select “Menu” in course contents or spot data and chose “Poll.” You can vote on a course or a spot, evaluating its service, prices and so on. Then your comment will be saved and added to the database, and will appear with a star beside it on the spot description.
  • Charisma Navigation” also provides you with constantly updated information. It provides visual displays about events, such as festivals and museum exhibitions.
  • Moreover you can easily make a call to contact important resources like hospitals, the police or your embassy.
  • You can also use the “Interpreter Service” in English, to help you with emergency communication in Japanese.
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