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Kansai

Travel Guide Asia Japan Honshu Kansai

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Introduction

Kansai (or Kinki), in south-western Honshū, is the cultural and historical heart of Japan.

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Cities

  • Hikone
  • Himeji is famous for its stunning castle
  • Ise
  • Kobe is famous for Kobe beef, the world's most expensive beef.
  • Kyoto - the ancient capital of Japan.
  • Nara - Japan's first permanent capital and home to the world's largest wooden building.
  • Osaka
  • Kinosaki is small town in the northern part of Kansai famous for its onsens.

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Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hin Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hin Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early february families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (Novermber 5) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full.

Other Events and Festivals

  • O-Bon (Festival of the Dead) - Usually held in August, this festival is observed nationwide in Japan. Buddhist tradition dictates this is the day the dead return to earth to visit their relatives. Lanterns are hung outside homes and offerings to the spirits are made. In the evening, people float the lanterns on the river to help guide the deceased back to their resting place.
  • Hanami and Cherry Blossom Festivals - A tradition all over Japan, Hanami literally means viewing flowers. Picnic under the beautiful flowing trees in any public park during this special season. Usually lasting for only two weeks in March, the sakura (cherry blossom) schedule changes a bit every year, so it’s hard to nail down exactly when to come.

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Getting There

By Plane

1. International flights in Osaka arrive at the Kansai International Airport (KIX), about 38 kilometres from Osaka. After Narita Airport it's the busiest airport in Japan regarding international passengers. Airlines flying from Europe to Osaka include KLM (Amsterdam) and Finnair (Helsinki).

To/from Osaka-Kansai Airport

  • Rail: The lower railroad level of the Sky Gate Bridge R leading to Osaka is used by two railroad operators: West Japan Railway (JR West) and Nankai Electric Railway. JR West operates Haruka, the limited express train services for Kansai Airport Station from Tennōji, Shin-Ōsaka and Kyoto Station. JR West also offers "Kansai Airport Rapid" services for Kansai Airport Station from Ōsaka and Kyōbashi Station, as well as several stations on the way. Nankai operates a limited express train service to Namba Station on the southern edge of downtown Osaka.
  • Bus: Kansai Airport Transportation Enterprise and other bus operators offer scheduled express bus services, called "Airport Limousines", for Kansai International Airport.
  • Car: The airport is only accessible from the Sky Gate Bridge R, a part of Kansai Airport Expressway. The expressway immediately connects to Hanshin Expressways Route 5, "Wangan Route", and Hanwa Expressway. Taxis and rental cars are available at the airport and there are thousands of parking places as well.
  • Ferry: A high-speed ferry service operates between Kobe Airport and KIX. The journey takes about thirty minutes.

2. Despite it's name, Osaka International Airport (ITM) serves only domestic destinations, but in total does handle more passengers than Osaka-Kansai!

To/from Osaka International Airport

  • Rail: The only direct rail connection to the airport is the Osaka Monorail, which stops in the northern suburbs of Osaka.
  • Bus: A number of scheduled buses run to and from the airport daily, forming connections to Osaka and Kyoto.

By Train

Kansai region can be reached from numerous cities to the east and west on Honshu, including Hiroshima and Tokyo. Check Hyperdia for schedules and prices.

By Boat

China:
There are weekly ferries crossing the sea between Shanghai and Kobe and Osaka. The ferry's destination alternates each week between Osaka and Kobe and the journey takes two days. Another line travels weekly as well between Shanghai and Osaka only.
Russia:
FESCO runs a service from Vostochny Port/Nakhodka in Far Eastern Russia to Osaka.

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Getting Around

By Train

Japan Rail offers extensive connections by train between the major cities and many smaller towns in between. Check Hyperdia for schedules and prices.

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Sleep

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This is version 14. Last edited at 13:08 on May 4, 16 by Utrecht. 10 articles link to this page.

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