Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Willer EXPRESS - The Late Night Traveler's Best Friend

Have you ever needed to get somewhere first thing the next day but couldn't because the bullet trains stopped running for the night?  

If you have ever faced this calamity, the answer may lie in the Willer EXPRESS.  An Osaka-based company since 1994, Willer Travel has been operating its line of Willer EXPRESS night buses around the country transporting everyone from the economical traveler to the business traveler.  

With more than 15 different seat configurations on its buses, Willer EXPRESS is able to cater to every kind of traveler.  For more information on the types of seating available with pricing, please visit here.  I am personally interested in the Cocoon configured bus (see picture above), which only seats up to 24 people.

And with its web site also available in Chinese and Korean, Willer Travel is hoping to increase its share of the foreign tourist market in a bus service sector that has mainly been for Japanese.  

How this will all pan out remains to be seen, however Willer Travel is definitely making strides to better position itself for the future and beyond.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Direct Flights From Osaka To New York

All I can say is that it is about time!

For the first time ever there will be three direct flights a week to JFK airport in New York from Osaka thanks in part to Taiwan-based China Airlines, which begins this new service from April 28.

For more information on the flight schedule, please visit the following:



For those of you from the eastern or southeastern part of the US, traveling to and from the Kansai region just got a lot more convenient.

Friday, April 22, 2011

TEDxOsaka Has Come!

Before I get into TEDxOsaka, if you are unfamiliar with TED then you should access the web site here to familiarize yourself with this truly educational, thought provoking conference organization.  Take your pick from the hundreds of presentations from extraordinary people to get a little taste of what TED is all about.  

Seeing the growth of TED spread throughout to the far corners of the earth, it is about time that it landed in Osaka and tomorrow is the day.  Albeit a little late in spreading the word, if you will be in town tomorrow and available, by all means stop by TEDxOsaka in Shinsaibashi in the afternoon to hear some great presentations from area residents.  Personally knowing the organizers of this event, I can say with confidence that it is going to be a success.

For more details in English and Japanese, please visit: http://tedxosaka.com/

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bio & Medical Devices Info Portal Opens    関西のバイオ・医療機器情報ポータルサイト開設

The Kansai Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI-KANSAI) has done it again!  They have just launched the "Portal for KANSAI Bio and Medical Device Information",which aggregates information on the field of bio and medical devices, which is one of the strengths of the Kansai region. 

Currently, the website offers information regarding 185 participating organizations in the Kansai region (constituted of the 7 prefectures of Fukui, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara and Wakayama), consisting of 92 companies, 69 universities and 16 research institutes, and other support organizations. 

For those of you looking for a great resource on the bio and medical device industry in Kansai, look no further than this site.




Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Flashback @ Flamingo

Kobe based Oldies musical group Flashback was back to take center stage this time at the fabulous upscale live house Flamingo the Arusha located in Sakuragawa close to Namba Station.

Following up their performance for the guests of Yomiuri Family last year (blog entry can be viewed here), Flashback was called back for an encore and they did not disappoint during their two hour jam session.

To get a little taste of what the atmosphere was like, please view the video clip above to see segments of four songs that Flashback played for the energized audience.

If you are interested in having Flashback perform for you, let me know!      

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto: Daigoji Temple & Nijo Castle

As the cherry blossom season or "sakura" season as we call it here in Japan is short-lived, I traveled to Daigoji Temple located in Fushimi, Kyoto for the first time to take in the picturesque landscape of blooming cherry blossoms.

After so many years being in the Kansai region, there are still so many cultural and historical places that I have yet to visit.  At least now I can mark Daigoji Temple with the adjacent Daigoji Reihokan and Sanboin Temple off of my list spots to visit.  

Nestled outside of the city center of Kyoto in Fushimi, Daigoji Temple, which is regarded as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, was the location of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's cherry blossom viewing parties.  For those of you unfamiliar with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he was the creator of Osaka Castle and is known as one of the most influential Japanese in the country's long history.

Relating to the pictures above, the first four were taken while at Daigoji Temple while the last picture of the three Japanese koto musicians with the massive ikebana (flower arrangement as most of you would call it) in the background was taken while attending the cherry blossom night viewing illumination at Nijo Castle in downtown Kyoto.

Even if you are unable to make the trek to Daigoji Temple this year to view the cherry blossoms, there is always the fall for the tree foliage among the many events that are held there throughout the year.  As it is off of the beaten path from the major tourist sites, I am sure that I will be visiting this temple again to explore the rest of its treasures in the mountains of Daigo.  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

~ Welcome to 関西!~

What's the living and working environment like in Kansai?  Where are the major research institutes and universities located?  How diversified are the foreign-affiliated companies that are located in the region?

To find the answers to these and more, please take a look at the 30 page informative brochure put together by METI-Kansai on an annual basis in PDF format in English, Japanese and Chinese.

The information detailed in these online brochures is very resourceful for anyone researching about the business landscape of Kansai and for those thinking about investing in the region.    

With the region offering a lot to potential investors, referring to this brochure is a start in the right direction.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Destination KANSAI

Where are the popular places to visit in Kansai? Is Osaka #1? Kyoto? Nara?

Is there a difference among places visited by foreign tourists and foreigners residing here in Kansai? Or are they the same?

To find out more, please visit the Destination KANSAI site from METI-Kansai for English and Japanese downloadable versions of the 28 page PDF highlighting the "must see" places in the region.

Even though I have been living here for more than 8 years, there were a few places listed that I had not even heard about! It just goes to show you that there is so much to experience that you cannot see it all even after being here for 8 years and counting....