Swine Flu in Osaka, the situation and facts

Bear in mind that I’m writing this on the morning of 20th May, the situation will change with regards to numbers.

There have been about 130 reported cases of swine flu in Japan.  In Japan it is referred to as 新型インフルエンザ which roughly translates to new form of flu.  There has been wide spread panic about the situation so if you don’t read or understand Japanese it may be alarming.  Here are some of the facts:

  • The new strain of flu is very infectious.  This is the primary reason for the panic, especially in the densely populated areas of Kobe and Osaka, where public transport is the main form of transport for most of the population.
  • It isn’t deadly and can be treated but like seasonal flu if not properly treated there are cases of fatalities.  Again like seasonal flu, old and young are the most vulnerable.
  • Masks, are very effective at preventing the spread, hence the panic buying and stores being out of stock.  As been pointed out by Janne in the comments, only anti-viral masks used properly can prevent infection.  But the official advice is that even the cheapest masks are effective at reducing the spread (since they cut down the distance air-borne particles carrying the virus travel).
  • If you get it you are advised not to go to your local hospital but instead call the specially set-up hotline (06-6944-6791 Japanese or 06-6943-8530 Foreign Languages) where they will advise you as to where to go.
  • Schools have been closed for 7 days, because this is takes into consideration the incubation period of the virus.  The theory being that if children are not showing symptoms after a period of 7 days, they probably aren’t infected.  However, you shouldn’t go out with your kids to say USJ as if you catch it during this time, your kids may spread it when they return to school. Stay home as much as possible.
  • Washing your hands properly is also effective at preventing the spread.  Washing with soap, and rubbing each digit individually is the recommended method.
  • You are also advised to take your temperature before going out.  If you have a temperature of 38C or more then you should call the hotline for advice.
  • Sleeping well and eating regularly keep  your immune system in a good state and makes you better prepared to fend off the flu.  Common sense I know, but some people I know are still pulling all-nighters.

There is some speculation that various vaccination programmes in Japan reduce your susceptibility in catching the swine flu.  This hasn’t been proven but maybe explain why teenagers are more likely, twenty-somethings less likely, and thirty-somethings again a bit more likely. If you are like me, only recently arrived in Japan then these patterns don’t apply.  And they are only casually observed patterns and not proof of immunity.

Take care everyone, I’ll try to update this post if there is any further news.  If you can please take this post and translate it into your own language to post on your own blog or facebook, even just the hotline numbers.

Ikea Shuttle Bus from Taisho cancelled

Ikea Bus by Mitikusa via flickr

Ikea Bus by Mitikusa via flickr

Unfortunately from today, the shuttle bus from Taisho to Ikea will be cancelled.  I can only imagine that it is due to cost cutting or problems with parking permissions, as there were definitely enough people using the service. I’ve been Ikea a few times and bought way too much stuff and always took the shuttle bus from Taisho (Sangenya) so it is sad news for me.  You can still get the 108A or 72A city bus to Tsuruhama though.  Unfortunately those buses take a long time because they make a lot of stops.

The shuttle bus from Namba is still operating.  More details here:


Japanese Movie Screenings with Foreign Language Subtitles

Memories of Matsuko

Memories of Matsuko

The International House in Osaka will be screening a couple of Japanese movies with foreign language subtitles in February and March.

They are:

Memories of Matsuko (Kiraware Matsuko no isshô) to be shown on Friday 20th February at 6.30pm with English subtitles

Tora-san’s Runaway (Otoko wa tsurai yo: Boukyou hen) to be shown on Friday 20th March at 6.30pm with Spanish subtitles.

Tickets are 500Yen and you can contact the International House by phone on 06-6773-8182 or email johokikaku@ih-osaka.or.jp or visit their web site http://www.ih-osaka.or.jp/i.house/

Details of how to get there in English are here:


(The Spanish Map is actually in English too)

Midosuji OpenFesta (11th May 2008)

There’s going to be another street festival along the Midosuji Boulevard this Sunday (11th May). It will be between the Nagahoridori and Sennichimaedori. Roughly between Sogo and Namba if you are not familiar with the road names.

It’s from 2pm to 5pm (opening ceremony at 1.45pm close to the Sogo end) and there will be different theme areas. Starting at the Sogo end, the areas are Art, Fashion, Sports, Jazz and Dance. Highlights include appearances of Osaka Evessa at the Sports Area and the 3 Jazz stages. I do hope that they have made the stages raised after the viewing problems of the last time.

There’s also going to be a guest appearance of the popular comedy duo 藤崎マーケット best known for their La-La-La-Lai Taiso act.

Some other info, if it rains (which is likely) the event will still go ahead.   If you have a baby or toddler and need changing or feeding facilities Sogo’s 9F has a very good mother and baby area.  Finally I haven’t been able to find a web site with information in either English or Japanese!

Have fun if you go, and send us some photos!

Osaka IKEA store planned for the summer

There’s been a lot of hype and publicity about the Kobe IKEA store that opened in April. It definitely lives up to its hype, being massive, fairly good value and with a huge range. I’m eyeing a bean bag tray for my laptop.

Strangely, what hasn’t been publicised is that IKEA will be opening up a store in Osaka. Not far from where I work in fact. I guess they don’t want to steal the thunder of the Kobe store so soon after its grand opening. I found out by chance when I was talking to a friend who works at IKEA. Here’s a link to the Osaka store place-holder page on the IKEA site. It has a map but no details of opening date or opening hours.

Word is that it will open sometime in August so there’s only another few months to wait. I’ll post more information when it is released.  I’m really looking forward to shopping (or just window shopping) there.

BTW. Don’t be mislead be the map, it is quite far from Taisho station and the Osaka Dome.

Added new web cams side bar links

As I mentioned in the comments in this post I was thinking of adding the web cams to the side bar if I ever found or received links to others.  Just yesterday I came across the one in the Expo Park so now I’ve added the list to the right side bar under the Osaka Photos links.

The web cams are best during the day time and the Takatsuki one is my favourite.  As always if there are any others (I’m sure there are more than 3), please leave us a comment.  Thanks!