Blog Japan in three charts: Top apps, session...

Japan in three charts: Top apps, sessions, and retention rates

Japan is a dynamic hub for mobile apps, renowned for its innovation and adaptability. This has resulted in an exceptionally high adoption rate, making it one of the world's largest and most lucrative mobile markets. It's no secret that Japan loves smartphones, with 85% of the population already owning one and projections indicating that this will increase to 94% by 2027. Additionally, most Japanese smartphone users have access to high-speed mobile internet, with the penetration rates set to exceed 93% by the end of 2023.

In 2022, the total number of app downloads surpassed 2.4 billion, and users spent an average of 4.8 hours daily on mobile. What's more, Japanese users are known for their significant contribution to the app economy through in-app purchases, with only China and the U.S. ahead in this regard. This trend is predicted to continue, with consumer spending in Japan expected to go beyond $17.7 billion in 2023, according to data from

Overall, Japan's app installs took a hit in 2022, but the country's app economy is bouncing back. Adjust data shows that the first quarter of 2023 saw a 7% increase compared to the Q4 2022 average. And while app installs may have taken a dip, app sessions have been scaling to new heights. In 2022, there was a 9% year-over-year (YoY) increase in sessions, and in Q1 2023, there was an additional 1% boost compared to Q4 2022. In this article, we delve into an in-depth analysis of Japan's top-performing apps and verticals, exploring the ones with the highest user engagement.

Mobile gaming dominates top 10 apps by consumer spend

When it comes to the top ten apps in Japan, it's a tale of two lists. The most downloaded app was the utility and productivity app Mynaportal AP, followed by fintech apps regionPAY and Myna Point. Entertainment apps such as TVer, TikTok, and Amazon Prime Video took the fifth, sixth, and seventh spots, respectively, followed by SHEIN (shopping), Instagram (social media), and COVID-19 vaccination certificate app (health and fitness).

However, when we look at the top ten apps by consumer spending, eight out of ten apps on this list were mobile games. It's clear that Japanese users love their mobile games and make in-app purchases to enhance their gaming experience and boost performance.

Booming growth for app sessions in Q1 2023

Sessions have grown impressively across a range of verticals in Japan in the first quarter of the year.

E-commerce on the rise

Japan is a significant player in the global e-commerce market, ranking fourth in size and poised to generate $156.3 billion in app revenue by 2023. While the current e-commerce giants in Japan are Rakuten and Mercari, global powerhouses such as Amazon are quickly gaining a foothold in this exciting and ever-evolving market. Although there has been a slight dip in e-commerce app downloads, the number of sessions has been steadily increasing. In 2022, there was a YoY boost of 5% in e-commerce app sessions, and in the first quarter of 2023, there was another 3% increase compared to the Q4 2022 average, indicating a continued upward trend.

Fintech trending upward

Japan's fintech industry is thriving, with its market value soaring from $1.9 billion in 2018 to over $10 billion in 2022. The country has been making a concerted effort to embrace fintech by introducing new technologies and facilitating market growth. Specifically, Japan's cryptocurrency, digital payments, and crowdfunding sectors have seen the most significant growth so far. Although fintech app installs decreased by 2% from 2021 to 2022, they grew by a notable 14% in Q1 2023 compared to the previous quarter. Fintech app sessions have also increased in Japan, surging 14% YoY in 2022. In Q1 2023, sessions increased by another 8% compared to Q4 2022.

Gaming maintains its foothold

With 70 million mobile gamers, Japan is indisputably one of the world's largest mobile gaming markets. According to, the Japanese mobile gaming industry is predicted to exceed $12.6 billion in consumer spending by the end of 2023. Despite a 22% YoY drop in mobile gaming installs in 2022, mobile gaming has made a remarkable comeback, with a 12% increase in Q1 2023 compared to Q4 2022. Although there was a 17% YoY decrease in gaming app sessions in 2022, the outlook for 2023 is brighter, with sessions in Q1 2023 increasing by 6% compared to the Q4 2022 average.

Japan increasingly adopts health and fitness apps

With Japan's aging population and growing concerns about sedentary lifestyles, the focus on health and wellness has been on the rise. In a tech-savvy society where smartphones are ubiquitous, Japanese users have quickly adopted health and fitness apps as a convenient way to monitor and manage their personal health goals. The digital health industry in Japan is expected to reach $4.75 billion in revenue by 2023, with fitness apps projected to bring in $475.7 million. Despite a dip in health and fitness app installs in 2022, Adjust data shows that Q1 2023 saw a remarkable 26% increase compared to Q4 2022. Moreover, sessions also witnessed a 7% hike in Q1 2023 compared to the previous quarter.

Social media usage continues to rise

The use of social media in Japan is booming, with over 102 million people, or 81% of the population, estimated to be active on various platforms. While there are plenty of social media players in the country, LINE takes the lead, with 82.5% of internet users aged 16 to 64 using it. Our data shows that Japanese consumers are embracing social media more than ever, with installs skyrocketing by 79% from 2021 to 2022. Installs continued to grow by an additional 2% in Q1 2023 compared to Q4 2022. In terms of sessions, the year-over-year growth in 2022 was even more impressive, increasing by an incredible 131%. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down, with social app sessions in Q1 2023 growing by 5% compared to the previous quarter.

Japanese users embrace utility apps

Utility apps have become increasingly popular among Japanese users due to their convenience and efficiency. With a high smartphone penetration rate and a fast-paced urban lifestyle, these apps have become essential for navigating daily tasks. Installs and sessions for utility apps have soared in Japan for the past two years. In 2022, there was a remarkable YoY increase of 22% in app installs and 34% in app sessions. The growth continued into Q1 2023, where installs rose by 9% compared to the Q4 2022 average, and sessions saw an uptick of 1%.

Users stick with gaming and social apps the most

In Q1 2023, Japanese users were most engaged with mobile games and social apps, boasting an impressive Day 1 retention rate of 27% and 25%, respectively. Health and fitness apps secured a solid third place with a retention rate of 23%. Meanwhile, e-commerce and fintech apps held their ground with 22% and 21%. However, the utility and entertainment apps had slightly lower Day 1 retention rates of 20% and 17%.

Driving mobile app growth in Japan

2023 is proving to be a year of impressive growth for the Japanese app industry, with installs and sessions increasing across verticals in the first quarter. With innovation, competition, and evolution as the norm in Japan's app market, mobile marketers must stay ahead of the curve to succeed. That's why we've teamed up with to bring you Mobile App Trends 2023: Japan Edition- an ebook loaded with actionable data, expert analysis, and local insights. It's your ultimate guide to scaling growth in Japan beyond 2023. Download your copy today!

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