Category Archives: news & events

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.

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.

Universal Studios Japan Yearly Pass Offer

As I mentioned in my previous post, Universal Studios Japan are running a special offer for their yearly passes (until 31st Jan). They are called the Gold Pass and the Platinum Pass. They let you get into the attraction park as many times as you like for a year but there are some exception dates for the gold pass. There are no exceptions for the Platinum Pass.

Here are the prices (regular prices are in square brackets)

  • Gold Pass Adult: 11500 Yen [22000 Yen]
  • Gold Pass Children: 8200 Yen [16000 Yen]
  • Platinum Pass Adult: 17300 Yen [28000 Yen]
  • Platinum Pass Children: 11500 Yen [20000 Yen]

Since USJ haven’t bothered to update their page on their English site, here are the days you can’t use the USJ Gold Pass in Japanese. You can only order online if you can understand Japanese, so the best way is probably to go there directly or to ask a friend who can to order for you.

Osaka Immigration Office Moving

Only 5 more days until Christmas and you know what that means, right? It means that the Osaka Immigration Office (actually called the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau) is moving. It is moving to the Nanko area, and the closest station will be Cosmosquare on the Chuo Subway Line. I tried to find a site with details in English but couldn’t. So I went to the immigration office and picked up a leaflet and scanned it in. The PDF is below and it is about 1.5MB in size. (in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese) Tell me if there are any problems with opening it.

PDF of New Osaka Immigration Office

Midosuji Parade 2007 (御堂筋パレード)

[If you’re reading this on an archive page, you can find photos and a review of the Midosuji parade here]

This year’s Midosuji Parade will take place next Sunday (14th October) from 1pm to 5pm. It promises to be the spectacular show of colour, music and people as it is every year. But this year is a special year in that it is the 25th Midosuji Parade and it is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the completion of the Midosuji itself. You can find some photos of last year’s parade here. The International parade itself will have groups representing Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, China, Russia, Eygpt and Boliva.

I’ve tried in vain to find the English version of the official site. I can only find last year’s one so here is the link to the Japanese site where you can find the route map. As far as I can tell the parade starts in front of the Osaka City Hall (closest subway station Yodoyabashi on the Midosuji line ) and ends at the intersection of the Midosuji and Nagahori-dori in Shinsaibashi. From there, there is a Matsuri area filled with more performers, events and fun stretching to the Sennichimae-dori past Namba.

I’ll be going if I can, if you spot me come and say hello.

[update: I got a copy of the Official Guide, my picks are the NPO Japan Whistling Association, Shiny Lemon Shower シャイニーレモンシャワー (just because of their name) and Kinki University’s Cheerleading Team. :D]