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Osaka Introduction

Osaka Overview

Osaka, a center of Japanese economy and culture on a par with Tokyo, is the core of the western part of Japan. Together with Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe, Osaka forms the Kansai metropolitan area. Osaka has become a more vital city since the opening of Kansai International Airport in 1994. You will find Osaka driving forward into the 21st century with new developments such as the Osaka International Convention Center, where the Opening Ceremony and the first days program of the Osaka Forum will be held.

Osaka is a beautiful city, set on water front and surrounded by the blossoms and greenery of parks and gardens. During the conference, participants will be able to enjoy the best of Osaka. Post-conference trips to nearby Kyoto or Nara, both within 1 hour by train from Osaka are also recommended to make your stay in Japan more attractive and memorable.

Currency

The currency used in Japan is yen. Foreign currency or travelers checks can be changed to yen at major banks (open 9:00-15:00 Mon-Fri, closed Sat. & Sun.), hotels, or airports. Only Japanese yen is accepted at stores and restaurants.

It is necessary to show your passport when changing travelers checks.

Bills come in units of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 yen, and coins in units of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 yen. The approximate rate of exchange is 100 yen for U.S. $0.77 (as of April, 2002).

Credit Cards

Japan remains primarily a cash society. Credit cards are still not widely used, though most hotels, restaurants, and department stores accept them.

Travelers checks are not as popular in Japan as in some other countries. They are usually accepted only by leading banks and major hotels.

Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Diners Club cards are widely accepted at hotels, department stores, shops, and restaurants.

Tipping

Tipping is not common in Japan as there is a 10% service charge plus a 5% tax attached to the bill at most hotels and restaurants.

Useful Numbers

Call 110 (Police); 119 (Fire/Ambulance) toll-free, for 24-hour, 7-days-a-week service

Electricity

100 volts. Two different cycles are used: 50 in eastern Japan including Tokyo, and 60 in western Japan including Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka

Health Risks

Monitoring by the health department is very strict and standards are high in almost all restaurants. Its generally safe to eat food prepared and sold by street vendors. But travelers allergic to MSG should be vigilant as many restaurants use a lot of it. Tap water is potable, but sometimes it has a musty odor or a strong chlorine smell. Bottled water is a better choice for those with sensitive stomachs and is available almost everywhere.