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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Osaka

Each year numerous holidays are celebrated in Japan and in Osaka, which has no less than 15 holidays (a world record). Here are the main ones:

1st January: Ganjitsu (national)

The Japanese take advantage of the change of year to make resolutions and do a grand cleaning of their houses. In order to attract divine favour, they make offerings at the altars in their homes and go to the temple where they taste the first sake of the year. It is customary not to work during the first days of the year: women therefore prepare traditional dishes in advance (including soba (literally ‘debts') broth with noodles, symbolizing debts paid) to be served during major festive meals.

From 9 to 11 January: Toka Ebisu (local)

This ‘successful business party' is particularly well celebrated in Osaka, an industrious city and a mecca for commerce in Japan. The Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, dedicated to Ebisu, patron deity of business and fishing, is visited by thousands of pilgrims on this occasion. On 10 January, the Palanquin Parade for good luck is held: several hundred people, including notables, geisha, and fukumusume (lucky young girls), distribute amulets to passersby. It is under these favourable auspices that the most demands for marriage take place each year.

2nd Monday of January: Seijin Shiki (national)

Every year on this ‘passage to adulthood' day, which is a holiday for the whole population, young people celebrating their 20th birthdays during the year go to their town halls dressed in traditional costume to receive a few words from the mayor and people of the city. After this very official ceremony, all young adults engage in a festive evening.

11 February: Kenkoku Kinen No Hi (national)

The reason why the date of the founding of Japan by Emperor Jinmu was set for 11 February in the year 660 BC is a mystery to historians. This does not prevent the Japanese, animated by a fervent patriotism, from celebrating the anniversary of their nation by marching under the flag and streaming the nation's symbols from buildings.

29 April: Showa No Hi (national)

Another highly patriotic date, the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, who ruled Japan during the Showa era (1926-1989). On this day, the Japanese are invited to meditate during official ceremonies and solemn processions.

3 May: Kempo Kinen bi (Kinenbi) (national)

This festival commemorates the enactment of the Constitution of Japan, in 1947. On this occasion, the parliament in Tokyo is, exceptionally, open to the public. It is also customary for the Japanese to go to the temple to make a wish for prosperity.

5 May: Kodomo No Hi (national)

This ‘Children's Day' is a day set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness. To ensure their purification, growth, strength, courage, and perseverance, their parents plunge them into iris-accented baths and serve them traditional pastries. The boys are even allowed to dip their lips into iris-flavoured sake. It's a day devoted to family celebrations and the enjoyment of the little ones, who receive gifts and wishes for good health.

24/25 July: Tenjin Matsuri (local)

This major Japanese festival, held in Osaka, is under the protection of the Tenmangu shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, the god of education and the arts. On the banks of the Okawa River, traditional trade stalls are installed and a majestic fireworks display is lit upon the water. In the streets of the city, several thousand people parade, dressed in traditional costumes of the Imperial Court of the 8th to the 12th century. Boats occupied by Danjiri-bayashi (traditional light) dancers also move about on the water.

22 or 23 September: Shubun No Hi (national)

The autumnal equinox is the opportunity for the Japanese to honour the memory of the deceased. The rites associated with the event (ceremonies, flowers placed on graves) are complemented by a meal with family or friends and a walk—in nature or in a Japanese garden—at a time when the vegetation shows its brightest colours.

2 October: Taiiku No Hi (national)

This ‘day for health and sport' is taken to heart by the Japanese, for whom it is essential to enjoy a ‘healthy mind in a healthy body'! Created to celebrate the anniversary of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, this is a day of great sporting events organised not only in schools and colleges but also in some companies.

3 November: Bunka No Hi (national)

Celebrated since the Meiji era, this cultural festival celebrates Japanese arts. Exhibitions, cultural shows, and various festivals are held in all cities. It is also the day of the awarding of the prestigious Order of Culture, an imperial award granted to those—both in Japan and internationally—who have significantly advanced the sciences, the arts, or culture.

23 November: Kinro Kansha No Hi (national)

‘Labour Day' in Japan is not an opportunity for workers parades, and even less for strikes. November 23 is the day when the country is grateful to the workers who contribute to its influence and prosperity. It is an occasion for speeches on the part of leaders, but it's also a time for the entire population to say ‘thank you' to those around them.

23 December: Tenno Tanjobi (national)

This national holiday commemorates the birthday of the current emperor, Akihito. On this day exceptionally, the imperial palace opens its doors to the public. Thousands of people gather in the courtyard to congratulate the emperor and to make their wishes for prosperity and longevity. At night, the emperor delivers a formal speech that is broadcast on television.

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Osaka

The Osaka climate is of the warm, humid, subtropical type without a dry season. It is marked by high rainfall, but mild temperatures during much of the year. The best months for a stay in Osaka are April, May, August, September and October.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 2 9 48 Not the best period to go
February 2 10 66 Not the best period to go
March 5 14 104 Not the best period to go
April 10 20 123 Good period to go Good period to go
May 15 24 144 Good period to go Good period to go
June 20 28 201 Not the best period to go
July 24 32 160 Not the best period to go
August 25 33 104 Good period to go Good period to go
September 21 29 164 Good period to go Good period to go
October 14 23 125 Good period to go Good period to go
November 9 17 73 Not the best period to go
December 4 12 49 Not the best period to go
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Kansai Osaka International Airport

The Kansai Osaka International Airport is located on an artificial island about 50 kilometres south-west of Osaka.

  • 2 terminals
    • Terminal 1 (Air France)
    • Terminal 2 Travelling between Osaka and the airport:
  • Car: downtown Osaka is accessible by car from the airport in about 50 minutes. The airport is built on an artificial island; you take the toll bridge connected to the Hanwa Expressway. Expect to pay 1,200 to 1,800 JPY for the crossing, depending on vehicle size.
    • Parking: two covered car parks are connected to Terminal 1. The parking fee is 110 JPY for 30 minutes and 1,540 JPY for the day.
    • Rentals: several car rental companies are available at Kansai Osaka Airport in the Arrivals Hall of Terminal 1.
    • Train: The connection between the airport station (opposite the Arrivals Hall of Terminal 1) and the different stations in Osaka is assured by two railway companies:
      • The JR West Haruka runs every 30 minutes to Tennoji (30 minutes) and Shin-Osaka (50 minutes) for 1,100 to 1,300 JPY each way, every day of the week between 8:10 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. The Haruka Express, run by the same company, goes to the stations of Tennoji Umeda, Namba, and Shin-Osaka for 1,100 to 1,300 JPY each way, every day of the week from 6:30 a.m. to 10:20 p.m.
      • Nankai Rapid Trains run roughly every 30 minutes, between Kansai Airport and Tengachaya, Shin-Imamiya, and Namba (35 minutes), between 6:32 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. on weekdays and 7:31 a.m. and 10:31 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Count 1,340 JPY (770 JPY for a child) for a place in first class and 1,130 JPY (570 JPY for a child) in second class.
  • Limousine bus:
    • A limousine bus line connects the airport with several large hotels and the main stations of Osaka, especially in night hours when the trains are not running, at the frequency of a bus every hour from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., then every 20 to 30 minutes during the day. The bus stop is located directly across from the Terminal 1 Arrivals Hall. The price is 1,550 JPY for adults, 780 JPY for children. Allow an hour to reach the Central Station and 45 minutes to reach Namba.
  • Taxi:
    • Taxis are usually parked outside the Terminal 1 Arrivals Hall. To reach the city centre of Osaka by taxi from the airport takes around 50 minutes and costs 15,000 JPY.
  • Telephone: +81 (0)7 24 55 25 00
  • Website: http://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/en/index.asp

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GETTING AROUND Osaka

Osaka traffic is fluid and well organized: it is a pleasure for pedestrians as well as for drivers! Regarding public transport, the metro, which is extensive, fast, and reliable, is ideal for exploring the city.

Car

Traffic in the city of Osaka is generally fluid. It is important to note that a driving license is not valid in Japan if it is not accompanied by a Japanese translation of the document. For this, you must ask the competent authority, the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), once you are there. For more information, click here. Bear in mind that all traffic signs are only in Japanese!

Metro

Osaka city is crossed by nine subway lines serving its main axes: the Midosuji line, connecting Esaka to Nakamozu; the Tanimachi line (Dainichi to Yao-Minami), the Yotsubashi line (Nishi-Umeda to Suminoe-Koen), the Chuo line (Cosmosquare to Nagata), etc.

The trains run from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., approximately (depending on the lines and stations), every two to four minutes during rush hours. The ticket price varies depending on the lines taken and distances travelled (count 200 JPY on average per trip). You can purchase your tickets from vendors present at the ticket counters at stations or buy them in vending machines (also in stations).

Taxi

You will recognize taxis by their green license plates and lit signs placed on their roof. You can hail them in the street or go to the taxi ranks near subway stations. Allow about 700 JPY per kilometre.

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Visitor information

Once you arrive in Japan, don't hesitate to get in touch with tourism professionals for information and help in organising your stay.

Kansai Osaka International Airport

Practical information (visits, excursions, heritage, outings, etc.) and tourist documentation about Osaka.

Umeda Station

  • Address: JR Osaka Station 1F North Central Gate 3-1-1 UmedaKita-ku, Osaka
  • Telephone: +81 (0)6 63 45 21 89
  • Website: www.osaka-info.jp/

Namba Station

  • Address: Nankai Terminal Building 1F, 5-1-60 Namba, Cnuo-ku, Osaka
  • Telephone: +81 (0)6 66 31 91 00

Shinsaibashi Station

  • Address: South Building 2F of Daimaru Shinsaibashi Store 1-7-1 Shinsaibashi-suji, Chuo-ku, Osaka
  • Telephone: +81 (0)6 62 44 71 00

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Currency and Exchange Rates

Currency in Japan is the Yen (JPY).

1 € = 133 ¥

1 ¥ = 0,01 €

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

Medical care is good in Osaka and the city has a modern infrastructure and facilities. It is recommended you take out health insurance covering medical expenses abroad and the costs of repatriation before a trip to Japan.

Vaccination

No vaccination is compulsory or recommended for a stay in Japan. For more information, contact your Air France international vaccination centre:

Food safety

Japan is not subject to any particular food safety instructions.

Water

Tap water is drinkable in Japan.

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Administrative formalities

Entry requirements for Japan

For visitors from more than fifty countries, a simple passport is all that is needed for a stay of 90 days (maximum) in Japan. To see the list of these countries, click here.
For more information, consult the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan: www.mofa.go.jp

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Useful Addresses

Embassy and consulate in Japan

To travel serenely in Japan, consult the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.

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Essential phrases

Here are a few phrases in Japanese that might be useful during your stay in Osaka:

Hello: Konnichi wa

Good evening: Konbanwa

Goodbye: Sayonara

Yes: Hai

No: Iie

No, thank-you: Iie, arigato

Thank-you very much: Arigato gozaimasu

I don't understand: Wakarimasen

Could you repeat?: Mouichido onegaishimasu.

Please: Onegaishimasu / Dozo

What time is it?: Ima nanji desuka ?

Excuse me: Sumimasen

Airport: Kūkō

Station: Eki

Taxi: Takushi

Hotel: Hoteru

Hospital: Byoin

Bank: Ginkō

Telephone: Denwa

I am (…): Watashi ha (…) desu.

I am looking for (…): (…) wo sagashiteimasu.

How much does (…) cost?: (…) ha ikura desuka ?

Do you have (…)?: (…)wo motte imasuka ?

Where can I find (…)?: (…) wa doko de mitsukeru koto ga dekimasuka (…)?

Where can I buy (…)?: (…)wa doko de kaemasuka ?

I would like (…): Watashi wa (…) ga shitaidesu/hoshidesu.

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Good to know

00 81
+ 6 + + phone number (calls to Osaka)
8 : 00
of time difference with
Hamburg
There is no seasonal time change in Japan.

BANKS

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
GOVERMENT OFFICES

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
100 V / 50 Hz

And what about tipping?

The custom of tipping does not exist in Japan. A Japanese person will feel very uncomfortable if you leave one. ‘Service' is included in the bill.