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Japan
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Japan, Osaka, Lufthansa, Travel Guide

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Japan: Die große Reise

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City map Osaka

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    Osaka - a brief overview

    Neon-lit streets, an idiosyncratic food culture and plenty of ancient culture behind the glass facades of skyscrapers. Osaka is one of Japan’s hottest cities. Root around and you’ll find a town that’s a far cry from Tokyo, with a more laid-back vibe despite its reputation as a business capital.

    Whether you’re touring around its hulking castle or guzzling a bowl of noodles in one of the tiny restaurants nestled beneath the main train station, Osaka will surprise you at every turn. If you’re a foodie, party lover or museum fiend, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained.

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    Top 10 sights in Osaka

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    Osaka, Japan, Umeda Sky Building, Lufthansa, Travelguide, Travel Guide

    Osaka Castle

    1-1 Osakajo, Chuo-ku
    540-0002 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 06 6941 3044
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 0900-1630

    A 20th-century rebuild of the 16th-century original, this huge castle was originally built to mark the unification of Japan. Full of fascinating pieces on the history of Osaka and the castle’s own development. The observation deck offers excellent views of the city.

    Spa World

    3-4-24 Ebisu higashi, Naniwa-ku
    556-0002 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 06 6631 0001
    Show on map

    A fancy version of Japan’s fantastic onsen, this spa claims to be the world’s largest. It’s split over two floors, along with a rooftop area where you can channel your inner kid and take to waterslides and other fun-filled attractions.

    Museum of Oriental Ceramics

    1-1-26 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku
    530-0005 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 06 6223 0055
    Show on map

    Opening times
    Tue-Sun 0930-1630

    The exquisite ceramics on show here are sourced mainly from nearby Korea and China. The museum’s collection extends to almost 3,000 pieces, although only around a 10th of them are on show.

    Amerika-Mura

    1-9-16 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku
    542-0086 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 06 6245 2512
    Show on map

    The streets of Osaka’s ‘American Village’ are the place to come if you want to see Japanese youth culture in full effect. Think extreme fashion, places to pick up anime and a small replica of the Statue of Liberty, and you get the idea.

    Osaka Aquarium

    1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato-ku
    552-0022 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 06 6576 5501
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 1000-1900

    The biggest aquarium in the world has a fascinating array of themed areas, where you can gaze at exotic sea life from around the world. The Deep Sea zone is particularly good. A must if you’re travelling with kids.

    Osaka Museum of History

    1-32 Otemae 4-Chome, Chuo-ku
    540-0008 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 06 6946 5728
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Sat-Mon, Wed-Thurs 0900-1700
    Fri 0930-1930

    Detailed exhibits take you through the history of Osaka, from its samurai days up its modern-day position as one of Japan’s, and Asia’s, premier cities. Housed in the same building as the NHK broadcast company.

    Shitennō-ji Temple

    1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji
    543-0051 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 06 6771 0066
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 0830-1630

    The original buildings of this Buddhist temple no longer survive, but the stone torii gate, built in 1294, is still standing. One of Japan’s oldest temples, dating back to 593, this temple is a must-visit.

    Umeda Sky Building

    1-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku
    531-6023 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 06 6440 3901
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 1000-2200

    This striking skyscraper is arguably Osaka’s best sight. Wander beneath its soaring arch to get a great perspective on the unique architecture, before zipping to the floating garden observatory for unbeatable views of the city below.

    Universal Studios Japan

    2-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku
    554-0031 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel: 0570 200 606
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Various (check website for details)

    Osaka’s popular Universal Studios theme park, one of only two outside of the USA, includes Harry Potter, Spiderman and Jurassic Park rides, as well as guided tours, themed restaurants and countless shops.

    Good to know

    Country information

    Country overview

    Japan is swathed in natural beauty, from the snow festivals and lavender farms of the northern isle of Hokkaido to the sun-drenched beaches and turquoise waters of the subtropical islands of Okinawa. Whether climbing volcanic Mount Fuji, wandering the pine forests of Mount Koya, taking in

    the springtime beauty of the sakura cherry blossoms or the spectacular maple leaves in the autumn, a journey to Japan is a wealth of unforgettable natural landscapes. In recent years, the powdery snow of Japan’s ski fields has also been attracting international visitors.

    Geography

    The archipelago of Japan is separated from the Asian mainland by 160km (100 miles) of sea and split into four main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. About 70% of the country is covered by hills and mountains, a number of which are active or dormant volcanoes, including Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak, reaching 3,776m (12,388ft). Japan sits on major seismic fault lines and is susceptible to frequent earthquakes.

    A series of mountain ranges runs from northern Hokkaido to southern Kyushu. The Japanese Alps (the most prominent range) run in a north-south direction through central Honshu.

    Lowlands and plains are small and scattered, mostly lying along the coast, and composed of alluvial lowlands and diluvial uplands. The coastline is very long in relation to the land area, and has very varied features, for example, the deeply indented bays with good natural harbours tend to be adjacent to mountainous terrain. Many of Japan’s major cities are located on the coastline, and have extremely high population density.

    General knowledge

    Key facts

    Population: 127,06 Million

    Population Density (per sq km): 337

    Capital: Tokyo.

    Language

    Japanese is the official language. Some English is spoken in Tokyo and other large cities but is less usual in rural areas. There are many regional dialects and there are distinct differences in the intonation and pronunciation between eastern and western Japan.

    Currency

    Japanese Yen (JPY; symbol ¥). Notes are in denominations of ¥10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000. Coins are in denominations of ¥500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1.

    Electricity

    100 volts AC, 60Hz in the west (Osaka); 100 volts AC, 50Hz in eastern Japan and Tokyo. Plugs are flat two-pin plugs.

    General business opening hours

    Mon-Fri 0900-1700. Some offices are open Sat 0900-1200.

    Public holidays

    Below are listed Public Holidays for the January 2016 – December 2017 period.

    Note: Holidays falling on Sunday are observed the following Monday. When there is a single day between two national holidays, it is also taken as a holiday.

    2016

    New Year’s Day: 1. January 2016
    Coming of Age Day: 11. January 2016
    National Foundation Day: 11. February 2016
    Vernal Equinox: 21. March 2016
    Showa Day: 29. April 2016
    Constitution Memorial Day: 3. May 2016
    Greenery Day: 4. May 2016
    Children’s Day: 5. May 2016
    Marine Day: 18. July 2016
    Respect for the Aged Day: 19. September 2016
    Autumnal Equinox: 22. September 2016
    Health and Sports Day: 10. October 2016
    Culture Day: 3. November 2016
    Labour Thanksgiving Day: 23. November 2016
    Emperor’s Birthday: 23. December 2016

    2017

    New Year’s Day: 1. January 2017
    Coming of Age Day: 9. January 2017
    National Foundation Day: 11. February 2017
    Vernal Equinox: 21. March 2017
    Showa Day: 29. April 2017
    Constitution Memorial Day: 3. May 2017
    Greenery Day: 4. May 2017
    Children’s Day: 5. May 2017
    Marine Day: 17. July 2017
    Respect for the Aged Day: 18. September 2017
    Autumnal Equinox: 22. September 2017
    Health and Sports Day: 9. October 2017
    Culture Day: 3. November 2017
    Labour Thanksgiving Day: 23. November 2017
    Emperor’s Birthday: 23. December 2017

    Discover

    Japan – Caught between worlds

    Die große Reise: Japan, Tag 1Tag 1 Tokyo: beim weltberühmten Bonsai Meister Kunio Kobayashi, bei dem man auch tagesweise Kurse in Bonsai nehmen kann, im Mittelpunkt sein ältester Bonsai Baum mit 800 Jahren, mit dem er schon viele Preise gewinnen konnteTag 2: von Tokyo nach Matsumoto/Präfektur Nagano: Blick auf den Fuji von Norden ausTag 3: von Matsumoto nach Wajima auf der Noto Halbinsel:traditionelles japanisches Hotel (Ryokan) in Asama-Onsen: Kiku no Yu-zwei Generationen Hotellbesitzerinnen im Eingangsbereich mit Chrysamthemen BlumenTag 4: von Wajima/Notohalbinsel über Kanazawa nach Osaka:Fischereihafen von WajimaTag 5: Osaka-im Osaka Aquarium:Blick in das größte Becken mit Walhai, Rochen, Mantas, Haien etc.
    The great journey: From Tokyo to Osaka

    Japan has a polarizing effect. On a five-day trip from Toyko to Osaka we are treated to a fascinating mix of people and customs: a women’s diving cooperative, a peaceful bonsai school in the middle of flashy Tokyo, an enterprising master firework maker and two Dutch girls who love to dress up.

    Day 1 – 
Tokyo: Shaping Nature

    Half an hour is all it takes in Tokyo to get from the world’s largest intersection to a green oasis of tranquility. At Shibuya Crossing doors open automatically and we climb into a taxi driven by a woman sporting white gloves and a chauffeur’s cap. Soon we are standing in an inner courtyard amid hundreds of bonsais, overwhelmed by the serenity of the scene. A stream splashes softly into a pond, where koi circle dreamily. Sensei Kunio Kobayashi, 65, pours us green tea. He has been working with bonsai since 1976 and is a grand bonsai master today, teaching the art of shaping bonsai and welcoming visitors from Japan, Italy and Australia almost every day. Some of his students stand absolutely still, firmly gripping their secateurs as they contemplate the fine twigs. Kobayashi has chalked a bonsai consisting of three elements onto a board: a stand, a plant pot and a tree.

    Ideally, a bonsai should express – in miniature – the harmony between humans and nature. Kobayashi sighs. “Shaping a good student is more difficult than shaping a good bonsai.” The master shows us his most beautiful trees, one of which is 800 years old and worth a fortune. “Love is the key,” explains Kobayashi, “One has to devote many hours every day to a bonsai.” He tells his students to watch their tree instead of watching television. Kobayashi walks over to a small altar where a dried-up tree is lying on the floor – the bonsai graveyard. “Bonsai can sense when we neglect them,” he says, closing his eyes. The distant din of the city of millions drifts in over the walls. Silently, Kobayashi asks the dead bonsai for forgiveness.

    Day 2 –
 Tokyo to Matsumoto: Masters of pyrotechnics

    Mount Fuji is shrouded in cloud and only its snowy peak is visible. A recorded loudspeaker message brings us a woman’s monotonous warning to “Drive carefully, there have been many accidents recently, drive slowly.” We are sitting outside at a rest stop, spooning noodle soup with mountain vegetables, having left Tokyo via the ring expressway, which is frequently the scene of illegal nighttime races. The countryside is growing hillier, the air fresher, the leaves gleam red-brown in the sunshine. “Kōyō” is what the Japanese call the season when the foliage turns. They celebrate it with a variety of festivals just like they do the season of spring blossoms. Hiroto Kamijoo, 53, makes his living from such festivals. Kneeling in front of a pile of gunpowder balls with his son Rioji, he strikes a match. A loud bang resounds and through a dense swathe of smoke, we see five different colors as five layers of powder burn.

    Mr. Kamijoo looks pleased with himself. “I loved watching fireworks in the sky as a boy,” he says, “and there comes a time when you want to do it yourself.” He has been igniting tiny bombs with gusto for over 30 years and was one of the 12 master firework makers entrusted with firing the rockets at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Nagano in 1998. At his warehouse, protected by double steel doors, stout walls and a round-the-clock security guard, six employees pour powder into balls; the wider their diameter, the longer they burn. The closest building is half a kilometer away. He and his team make up to 20 000 bombs year. Does he enjoy what he does? “What, you noticed?,” Kamijoo replies with a broad grin.

    Day 3
 – Matsumoto: Raw fish and thermal springs

    In the morning, we are met by Mikoko Nakajo, landlady of a ryokan at the foot of the Japanese Alps. Her 120-year-old guesthouse draws water via a wooden pipeline from thermal springs located kilometers away in the mountains. “My only fear is that an earthquake could destroy the line,” says Nakajo. Twigs hang from high ceilings, calligraphy adorns the walls and her guests sleep on futons. Automatic, heated lavatory seats and flatscreen televisions are the only nods to the 21st century here. Outside, steam rises from the onsen, hot pools of healing mineral water. Her husband monitors their quality every month. She herself does not particularly like them, says Ms. Nakajo, smiling politely: “Too hot and too many people.” Foreign visitors often extend their stay into a relaxing break; Japanese visitors usually only come for a night.

    “We Japanese find it more difficult to let go; very few of us take a vacation,” explains Nakajo. She herself enjoys traveling, especially to Baden-Württemberg in Germany, where her children went to university. She loves German buildings, grandfather clocks and church bells. In fact, the only thing she had a problem with was the food: “The huge portions, awful, dumplings this size!,” she exclaims, shaping her hands to encompass an imaginary soccer ball. She and her husand would travel across the border to France to eat. She is interrupted by a gong striking 6pm. Guests in kimonos and slippers come to kneel at the low tables. This ryokan is famous for its food: fish with roe inside, raw octopus in seaweed, yuba rolls made of tofu skin, sea anemones, marinated mushrooms. Ms. Nakajo beams.

    Day 4 – Matsumoto to Wajima: The old woman and the sea

    After breakfasting on fish, we go down to Wajima harbor. A few fishing boats are still coming in, but most of the fleet has already been tied up along the pier and unloaded. The air is filled with the smells of salt and diesel oil, gulls squabble over shrimp scraps, and it’s drizzling. Harue Aochi surveys the sea.

    She is an expert at reading the currents; she knows the waves and the wind. Aochi is 62 years old and works literally in the sea all year round. She is one of around 200 amas, the women divers of the Noto Peninsula in the Japanese Sea. There are nearly 1000 divers like her in the country. After the Second World War, very few men returned to Noto and many were no longer able to work. Forced to provide for their families, their wives went fishing or diving for mussels and snails.

    Aochi sails out every morning with eight other amas and a captain to one of the islands off the coast. The weather determines where they head. Aochi has been gathering abalone and turban snails from the sea bed for 40 years. Delicacies like that fetch up to 10 000 yen (over 100 dollars) a kilo at the fish market. On a good day, the divers haul between 20 and 30 kilos on board.

    The women are organized as a cooperative and share their profits equally, regardless of how many mussels and snails each one of them collects. If someone is sick, she still gets her share. “The young women dive further down and bring up more than the older ones,” explains Aochi, “but someday they, too, will be old and profit from the young.” An ama’s skills are handed down from generation to generation. Aochi’s mother taught her her craft under water and showed her the good spots; Aochi in her turn trained her cousin, who dives with the cooperative, too.

    The women can hold their breath for two minutes and dive down 18 meters without oxygen bottles. They always dive in pairs, taking it in turns to stay at the surface and keep watch while their partner is down below, filling the baskets. They use sign language to communicate with each other, and only women do this kind of work. “Men are too impatient,” says Aochi with a smile, “they feel the cold quickly because they have no body fat.” Her husband is standing beside her, two heads shorter and quite a bit slimmer.

    Day 5
 – Wajima to Osaka: Two Lolitas far from home

    We head southwest along the coast, past pagoda villages, rice terraces and rocky beaches. Now and then, we come upon a racing cyclist, but otherwise the streets tend to be deserted. Many Japanese express a longing to return to nature and the simple life in the country, far from the crowds and the fast pace and noise of the city. Not Leyla Cavusoglu from the Netherlands. Cavusoglu, 28, left Europe to live in a Japanese city. “The secondhand stores in Osaka are fantastic,” she says, peeping out from under her false eyelashes. She is looking for new Lolita fashions, a variation on “cosplay,” the costume trend exported from Japan along with the manga boom in the 1990s. “In cosplay, you play a different role, but as Lolita, you keep your own character,” explains Leyla, today in a black-and-red costume. Her friend Danchelle Heijnen, 21, is all dolled up in baby blue and pink, right down to the bow in her hair, in an outfit worth around 1000 euros.

    The pair of Lolitas are inside a Hello Kitty store. Outside, jostling masses fill the shopping malls near the Glico Man, one of several garish neon signs and a landmark of Dotonbori, a district famous for its nightlife. Young people pose for photos, suited business types sit in sushi bars, and girls match high boots with short skirts, wearing their iPhones like jewelry around their necks.
    A cacophony of sounds pounds from the Gamecenter, where boys dance to light patterns that keep on changing at breakneck speed. Friday night is a dazzling, neon time of the week. The two Lolitas are off to a party. As they disappear into the crowds, Leyla turns back, her purse describing a semicircle, and calls out, “I just love Japan!”

    Enjoy

    Nightlife in Osaka

    ListMap

    Osaka neon-lit streets throb late into the night, its bars and clubs renowned throughout Japan.

    Nightlife centres on the Dotomburi area, although late-night action can be found away from its garish streets.

    Grand Cafe

    B1F Spazio Bldg 2-10-21 Nishishinsaibashi
    Chuo-ku, Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Achingly hip (and with handy English signage), this is one of Amerika-Mura’s hottest spots.

    Tavola 36

    5-1-60 Namba, Chuo-ku
    542-0076 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    An upmarket bar on the 36th floor of a downtown skyscraper.

    Tin’s Hall

    10-3 Minamikawahori-machi, Minami-ku
    543-0054 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    A lengthy happy hour and a huge beer selection keep this place jumping.

    Rock Rock

    Shinsaibashi Atrium Build
    3F 1-8-1 Nishishinsaibashi
    Chuo-Ku, Osaka
    542-0086 Japan
    Show on map

    The name’s a bit of a giveaway. Rock music and a celeb crowd head to this great bar.

    National Bunraku Theatre

    1-12-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku
    542-0073 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Don’t fancy drinking and dancing? The traditional puppet show at this theatre is a great alternative.

    Enjoy

    Restaurants in Osaka

    ListMap

    Eating is a way of life in Osaka and no other Japanese city is as obsessed by meal times.

    Okonomiyaki, takoyaki and steaming bowls of udon are all local favourites, with hundreds of places to try these specialities.

    Fujiya 1935

    2-4-14 Yariyamachi, Chuo-ku
    540-0027 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Price: Expensive

    A three-Michelin-star joint serving Italian food using locally sourced ingredients.

    Hajime

    1F, 1-9-11 Edobori, Nishi-ku
    550-0002 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Price: Expensive

    Another place graced with Michelin stars, this conceptual restaurant will leave your taste buds buzzing.

    Mizuno

    1-4-15 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku
    542-0071 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    Few places in Japan, let alone Osaka, serve a better okonomiyaki (savoury pancake).

    Usami-Tei Matsubaya

    3-8-1 Minamisenba, Chuo-ku
    539-0000 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    Head here to taste thick udon noodles and deep-fried tofu.

    Ootako Takoyaki

    1-5-10 Dotonburi
    Chuo-ku, Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Price: Budget

    Arguably the best takoyaki (fried octopus balls) that Osaka has to offer.

    Discover

    Calendar of events

    Cherry Blossom Festival

    24 March 2016

    Venue: Osaka Castle Park

    The cherry blossom (sakura) season is celebrated throughout Osaka during the colourful month of April. Families gather in parks for picnics or visit the beautiful grounds at Japan Mint Osaka, which opens to the public for a week during the cherry blossom season.

    Shoryo-e Festival

    22 April 2016

    Venue: Shitenno-ji Temple

    This festival features gagaku court dance and music on a stone stage in the Kame-no-ike pond at Shitenno-ji Temple as a memorial service for Shotoku Taishi, the temple’s founder.

    Aizen Matsuri

    30 June – 2 July 2016

    Venue: Shoman-in Temple, Tennoji area

    One of Osaka’s bigger festivals, this is a Buddhist memorial service during which young women in yukata (light kimono) ride kago palanquins up the route from the station to the temple, shouting encouragements along the way.

    Tenjin Matsuri

    24 – 25 July 2016

    Venue: Temmangu Shrine to Tenjin Bridge

    Osaka’s annual Tenjin Festival sees a spectacular procession of thousands of people in traditional costumes carry exquisite portable shrines from Temmangu Shrine to Tenjin Bridge. There they board more than 100 ornamented boats and barges to proceed from the Dojima River to the Okawa River. Nightfall finally brings a dazzling fireworks display. This enormous and dramatic festival dates back to the 10th century and is one of the largest events of its kind in Japan.

    Sumiyoshi Matsuri

    30 July – 1 August 2016

    Venue: Sumiyoshi Taisha Grand Shrine

    An ancient summer purification festival starting at the Sumiyoshi Taisha Grand Shrine and including a procession all the way to Sakai city.

    Shinnosai Festival

    22 – 23 November 2016

    Venue: Sukunahikona Jinja Shrine

    Osaka’s Shinnosai Festival is dedicated to the guardian god of Doshomachi, Osaka’s medicine district, and to Shinno, the divine founder of medicine from China.

    Toka Ebisu Festival

    9 – 10 January 2017

    Venue: Imamiya Ebisu Shrine

    One million people pass through the sixth century Imamiya Ebisu Shrine during the three-day January festival to pray to Ebisu (or informally, ‘Ebessan’), the god of business and wealth. The shrine maidens sell lucky bamboo fronds (fukusasa) loaded with lucky charms and coin talismans. Their offer is: ‘Buy a frond and your business will prosper’. It’s certainly a profitable time for the frond sellers. The highlight of the festival is ‘Toka Ebisu’ (10th Ebisu) when colourful palanquins bear geisha and other celebrities through the lantern-lit streets.

    Shitenno-ji 'Doya Doya' Festival

    14 January 2017

    Venue: Shitenno-ji Temple

    A festival where two groups of lightly clad (headbands and loincloths only) young men compete for possession of an amulet.

    Osaka Sumo Basho

    13 – 27 March 2017
    Website

    Venue: Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium

    Osaka Sumo Basho is one of the six annual big sumo wrestling tournaments in Japan which attracts huge crowds of sumo fans. Tickets can be purchased on the day if you arrive early in the morning.

    All information subject to change. Please check the dates on the relevant event organizer’s website.

    Enjoy

    Hotels in Osaka

    ListMap

    Business is the order of the day in Osaka and as such, hotels are largely geared up for those visiting town to thrash out deals.

    As with the rest of Japan, budget rooms are not easy to come across in great numbers.

    Inter Continental Osaka

    3-60 Ofuka-cho, Kita-ku
    530-0011 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Category: Expensive

    Rooms blend western and Asian style in this large, luxury hotel in the heart of the city.

    The Ritz Carlton

    2-5-25 Umeda, Kita-ku
    530-0001 Osaka
    Japan
    Show on map

    Category: Expensive

    A blow-the-budget option, with fantastically appointed rooms and great views across Osaka.

    Good to know

    Best time to visit

    Today: Tuesday, 06.12.2016 06:00 UTC

    partly cloudy

    temperature


    11°C


    wind speed

    11.25 mph

    7 days forecast

    Wednesday

    07.12.2016

    12°C / 5°C

    Thursday

    08.12.2016

    13°C / 6°C

    Friday

    09.12.2016

    14°C / 6°C

    Saturday

    10.12.2016

    11°C / 6°C

    Sunday

    11.12.2016

    10°C / 4°C

    Monday

    12.12.2016

    12°C / 3°C

    Tuesday

    13.12.2016

    18°C / 6°C

    Climate & best time to visit Japan

    Except for the Hokkaido area and the subtropical Okinawa region, the weather in Japan is mostly temperate, with four distinct seasons. Winters are cool and sunny in the south, cold and sunny around Tokyo (which occasionally has snow), and very cold around Hokkaido, which is covered in snow for up to four months a year. The Japan Sea coastline also often receives heavy snowfall during winter.

    Summer, between June and September, ranges from warm to very hot with high levels of humidity in many areas. Typhoons, or tropical cyclones, with strong winds and torrential rains often hit Japan during August and September, but can occur through May to October. Strong typhoons often affect transport systems, causing rail and air services to be stopped, and there is a danger of landslides in rural areas.

    Spring and autumn are generally mild throughout the country, and offer spectacular views of pretty sakura cherry blossoms and colourful autumnal leaves, respectively. Rain falls all over Japan throughout the year but June and early July is the main rainy season. Umbrellas are a daily essential during this season. Hokkaido, however, is generally much drier than the Tokyo area. For weather updates, including information of when and where cherry blossoms are expected to bloom and typhoon trajectories, check the Japan Meteorological Association website (www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html).

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

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    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    46 mm

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    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    4 h

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    4 h

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    62 %

    62 %

    61 %

    62 %

    64 %

    69 %

    71 %

    68 %

    69 %

    67 %

    66 %

    63 %

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    14 °C

    14 °C

    15 °C

    16 °C

    19 °C

    22 °C

    25 °C

    26 °C

    24 °C

    23 °C

    19 °C

    16 °C

    absolute maxabsolute minØ absolute minØ absolute minrelative humidityØ precipitationdays with deposit > 1mmsunshine duration
    Jan18 °C-7 °C9 °C2 °C62 %46 mm54.5 h
    Feb23 °C-6 °C9 °C2 °C62 %60 mm64.5 h
    Mar24 °C-5 °C12 °C4 °C61 %102 mm95.2 h
    Apr29 °C-2 °C19 °C10 °C62 %134 mm115.9 h
    May31 °C3 °C24 °C14 °C64 %139 mm106.4 h
    Jun34 °C8 °C27 °C19 °C69 %206 mm115.1 h
    Jul37 °C14 °C31 °C23 °C71 %157 mm105.9 h
    Aug38 °C13 °C32 °C24 °C68 %95 mm86.7 h
    Sep35 °C10 °C28 °C20 °C69 %172 mm105.1 h
    Oct32 °C3 °C22 °C14 °C67 %108 mm85.1 h
    Nov27 °C-2 °C17 °C9 °C66 %65 mm74.8 h
    Dec22 °C-4 °C11 °C4 °C63 %34 mm54.6 h
    year38 °C-7 °C20 °C12 °C65 %1318 mm1005.3 h
    Good to know

    Phone calls & Internet

    Telephone/Mobile Telephone

    Dialing Code: +81

    Telephone

    Four companies provide international communications services: KDDI (001), Cable & Wireless IDC (0061) Japan Telecom (0041) and NTT (0033). To call the UK, for example, you would use 001-44. Credit cards can also be used directly in some phone boxes. Public telephone boxes are becoming more difficult to find and are most likely to be located near train stations. They are green and grey, and accept coins and magnetic prepaid cards, available from convenience stories and vending machines.

    Mobile Telephone

    The Japanese mobile network uses PDC (Personal Digital Cellular System) technology, which is not compatible with GSM or other mobile services. Visitors can hire handsets at the airport from companies such as DoCoMo (www.nttdocomo.com), and Softbank (www.softbank-rental.jp). In the UK, phones can be rented in advance of travel from Adam Phones (www.adamphones.com). Coverage is generally good.

    Internet

    Internet is widely available; there are many internet cafés in Tokyo and in the main cities in Japan. Most hotels have Wi-Fi internet access.

    Enjoy

    Shopping in Osaka

    Stadtführer, Lufthansa, Travelguide, Shopping, Einkaufen

    Key Areas

    Umeda and Namba are the key areas for those looking to spend a day indulging in some retail therapy. Den Den Town is where it’s at for cheap (and expensive) electronics. Amerika-Mura is rammed with alternative clothing and accessories shops.

    Markets

    Malls and shopping centres are the order of the day in Osaka. But Kuromon Ichiba is great for foodies. This produce market is excellent for people-watching, while its food stalls serve up tasty snacks to keep your energy levels up.

    Shopping Centres

    Shinsaibashi Suji is one of Osaka’s oldest arcades. Its 600m (1,969ft) stretch houses international stores as well as local boutiques for stocking up on clothes you won’t find back home. Amateur chefs should check out Doguya Suji for cool kitchen gadgets. Rinku Town, near Kansai Airport, is a new place dedicated to global brands.

    Good to know

    Traveller etiquette

    Social Conventions

    Japanese manners and customs are vastly different from those of Western people. A strict code of behaviour and politeness is recognised and followed by almost everyone. However, Japanese people do not expect visitors to be familiar with all their customs but do expect them to behave formally and politely.

    A straightforward refusal traditionally does not form part of Japanese etiquette, and a vague ‘yes’ does not always mean ‘yes’. (The visitor may be comforted to know that confusion caused by non-committal replies occurs between the Japanese themselves.)

    When entering a Japanese home or restaurant, shoes must be removed.

    Bowing is the customary greeting but handshaking is becoming more common for business meetings with Westerners. The honorific suffix san should be used when addressing all men and women; for instance Mr Yamada would be addressed as Yamada-san.

    Table manners are very important, although the Japanese host will be very tolerant towards a visitor. However, it is best if visitors familiarise themselves with basic table etiquette and use chopsticks. Exchange of gifts is also a common business practice and may take the form of souvenir items such as company pens, ties or high-quality spirits.

    Good to know

    Health

    Main emergency number: 119

    Food & Drink

    If travelling to the area near the Fukushima nuclear accident it is advisable to take supplies of food and water. Produce from the area near the Fukushima nuclear accident, which is still being sold in some supermarkets nationwide, should be avoided due to the lack of a centralized testing system in Japan for radioactive contamination in food, and discrepancies between Japanese and international standards for safe levels of radioactive substances in food. Tap water in Tokyo was declared not safe for consumption after the accident, although the government has since stated otherwise. Nevertheless, if travelling with children it is advisable to take precautions. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website (www.mhlw.go.jp) has updates on contamination levels in tested food. In other parts of Japan, food and drink are generally considered safe.

    Only eat raw fish, seafood and meat from recognised establishments, and be aware that there is a risk of parasitic infection and toxins if these foods have not been prepared properly. E-coli food poisoning outbreaks tend to occur in Japan during the warmer months (June-September), and it is advisable to take precautions when consuming perishable foods at outdoor summer festivals, where refrigeration may be an issue.

    Other Risks

    You should make sure you are up to date with routine vaccinations. Influenza and measles epidemics have occurred in recent years and precautions should be taken. Tuberculosis and hepatitis B occur and vaccination is sometimes advised. Typhus occurs in some river valleys. Japanese encephalitis may occur. Vaccination is recommended for long-term travel (greater than one month) in rural areas. All normal precautions should also be exercised to avoid exposure to sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

    If spending prolonged periods outdoors during the summer months when heat and humidity can be extreme, make sure to have plenty of fluids on hand to avoid dehydration and wear hats and other protective clothing to avoid heatstroke.

    Contractual physician of Lufthansa

    Dr. Sato, Motohiko
    Meisei Hospital
    2-4-8 Higashinodamachi
    Miyakojima
    5340024 Osaka
    Japan
    Tel. +81-6-6353-3121

    Please note that Lufthansa accepts no responsibility for the treatment nor will it bear the cost of any treatment.
    Good to know

    Visa & Immigration

    IATA Travel Centre

    The IATA Travel Centre delivers accurate passport, visa and health requirement information at a glance. It is a trusted, centralized source for the latest international travel requirements. The IATA Travel Centre is the most accurate source available because it is based on a comprehensive database used by virtually every airline, and information is gathered from official sources worldwide, such as immigration and police authorities.

    IATA Travel CentreIATA Travel Centre