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Osaka – Sibos 2012 host city
Publication date: 18 July 2012
Author: Steve Shaw
Sibos 2012 is being held in Japan’s Second City this year. While many in the international financial community will know their way around Tokyo, Osaka is perhaps rather less well known. Although things are generally on a smaller scale than in Tokyo, Osaka is still a very large and very sophisticated city with a lot to see and do pre or post conference.
Sibos 2012 delegates who have not previously visited Japan might wish to consider tacking on a few days of holiday before or after the event to see the sights of the Kansai region. Osaka, which is the capital city of this region, is not only a great city for eating and shopping, but is also an ideal base for visits to the temples and markets of Kyoto, the historic treasures and temples of Nara, and the attractive port city of Kobe.
Sibos 2012 venue – INTEX
One thing to bear in mind as you plan your trip to Sibos is that INTEX OSAKA, the venue in which the event is being held this year, is actually located quite some distance from “downtown” Osaka. INTEX is on a man-made island in Suminoe-ku, on the edge of Osaka Bay.
If you decide to stay in the vicinity of INTEX you will have a 20-30 minute train journey to the centre of Osaka. There are however only two hotels in the immediate vicinity of INTEX, so the majority of delegates are likely to find themselves staying in a downtown hotel, with a daily train journey to get to the conference venue.
As you would expect in a major Japanese city, Osaka has an excellent urban rail network – clean, safe and efficient, although visitors may find the actual process of purchasing a ticket a little daunting. While considerable efforts have been made by the Japanese to make travelling by train in the Osaka area “foreigner-friendly” the main stations in Osaka – JR Osaka Station and Umeda Station, which are connected underground – can be a little overwhelming. Together they handle well over two million passengers a day and rank as the third busiest train station in the world. In Japan, main railway stations are not just about transport – they are huge complexes complete with department stores, restaurants and cavernous underground shopping malls.
Once you’ve found the right place to purchase a ticket, and know where you’re going, you’re likely to find yourself confronted by rows of electronic ticket vending machines. These will flash up an extensive range of ticket options, so rather than let a queue of impatient commuters build up behind you while you try and figure out which ticket you need to buy, you may find it easier to ask a local to help you.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Sibos will be offering transportation from the airport to Sibos official hotels and from the hotels to INTEX. If you purchase a Week Long Participant Pass and book an official Sibos hotel via the Sibos registration website, you will be entitled to a complimentary subway pass for four days when you receive your badge.
When friends meet on the street in Osaka the common greeting is “mōkarimakka”?, which, roughly translated means “how’s business?” This greeting tells you a lot about the sort of place that Osaka is – a city with a reputation for being down-to-earth and business-focussed. That said, it has an astonishing variety of top-notch places to eat and the city’s nightlife can be livelier than Tokyo’s.
While in Osaka, Sibos delegates may wish to take the opportunity to visit a few of their clients. Many well-known companies including Sharp Corporation, Panasonic Corporation, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Itochu and Nippon Life Insurance Co. have their headquarters in the city.
The tragic events last year in the wake of the tsunami and the crippling of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have had one unexpected side-effect. This is to have made Tokyo a less desirable location for company headquarters than it once was, and recently companies including Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsui & Co., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation have announced that they are going to move their head offices from Tokyo to Osaka.
The main thoroughfare which runs through central Osaka is Midōsuji and the city’s downtown is divided into two areas – Kita (north) and Minami (south) – which lie at either end of Midōsuji. Kita is the area around the business and retail district of Umeda, while Minami is home to the Namba, Shinsaibashi and Dōtonbori shopping districts. The traditional business area where courts and the national or regional headquarters of major banks are located is in Yodoyabashi and Honmachi, between Kita and Minami.
Worth a visit
Key attractions in the city include Osaka Castle, Dōtonbori Gokuraku Shotengai (a shopping, eating and entertainment district), Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium (one of the largest in the world) and the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel. If you’re not afraid of heights the Floating Garden Observatory is definitely worth a visit too – this is a futuristic project hanging between the twin towers of the Umeda Sky Building which affords fantastic views over the city.
If you’re interested in Japanese history a visit to the Osaka Prefectural Museum of Yayoi Culture is worthwhile. Unfortunately you’ve missed the 2012 Grand Sumo Tournament as this took place in March, but you may instead wish to catch up with some Noh and Kabuki stage performances.
Japan’s wonderfully efficient train system makes Osaka an ideal base for day-trips to Kobe and Nara. Kyoto is also within easy reach – the bullet-train journey between Osaka and Kyoto takes just 14 minutes – but there is so much to see in this remarkable place that realistically you’ll need to spend two or three full days in Kyoto at the very least.
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