Tenjin Festival in Osaka

An annual summer festival has climaxed in Osaka City with a grand boat procession and display of fireworks.

The Tenjin Matsuri, one of Japan’s top 3 festivals, began in the 10th century. It originated as a ceremony to welcome the principal deity of the Osaka Tenmangu shrine, who legend said would make an annual appearance at this time of year.

One of the highlights of the 2-day festival, a land procession, took place on Thursday.

Led by a traditional drum team, about 3,000 people dressed in traditional costumes paraded from the shrine beside floats and portable shrines.

They proceeded along a 3-kilometer route for about 2 and half hours.

Semi-trailer goes on highway rampage without driver behind the wheel

A semi-trailer sped along a highway without a driver for 1.2 kilometers in Shijonawate, Osaka, on Tuesday morning.

Police said the truck traveled along the shoulder of the highway, crashing into cars, before colliding with the guardrail and coming to a halt, TV Asahi reported Wednesday.

The driver of one car sustained a broken finger when his car was hit by the truck. Police said this was the only injury reported in the incident.

The 67-year-old driver of the semi-trailer was quoted by police as saying that he didn’t properly apply the handbrake when he left his vehicle.


Japan powering up nuclear reactor amid protests

Energy-starved Japan will regain nuclear-powered electricity on Sunday, as the first reactor to be switched on since last year’s Fukushima disaster comes online.

Kansai Electric Power Co. Ltd. KEPCO said the No. 3 reactor at the country’s Ohi Nuclear Power Plant will be activated on July 1 and start providing electricity to western Japan — which includes Osaka, Japan’s second biggest city by July 4. Ohi’s No. 4 reactor is also scheduled to resume operations by July 24th.

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Stabbing suspect should have killed himself, Osaka governor says

Osaka Gov Ichiro Matsui said Monday that the suspect in the fatal stabbing of two people in Osaka’s Hiashi-Shinsaibashi area should have killed himself if he really wanted to die.

The suspect, 36-year-old Kyozo Isohi, was arrested at the scene on Sunday afternoon after he fatally stabbed a 42-year-old man from Tokyo and a 66-year-old local woman. He told police that he chose his victims at random and he wanted to kill anyone so he would be sentenced to death.

Matsui told a news conference that if Isohi really wanted to die, there were many ways he could have done it away from the spotlight, TBS reported. “Why did he have to take other people’s lives?”

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Osaka’s Mayor Calls for Change

Toru Hashimoto is the product of a fed-up country. He is also its chief rabble-rouser.

The telegenic Osaka mayor wants wholesale changes to Japan’s sleepy status quo. He would like to transfer power from Tokyo to a collection of new regional fiefdoms, bigger than the existing prefectures, that would collect taxes and make streamlined decisions. He holds a tea-partyish small-government philosophy, but he speaks about it in such forceful terms that critics here have given it a different name: Hashism.

“It will be a creative destruction,” Hashimoto said, describing his vision for reform in a television appearance this year. “Dismantle everything and start from scratch.”

Read the rest of the story: Behind Hashimoto, Osaka’s telegenic mayor, a sign of Japan’s discontent.



Wizarding World of Harry Potter to open at Universal Studios Japan in 2014

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme-park attraction is to open at Universal Studios Japan in late 2014, it was announced Thursday.

The plans were revealed by Universal Studios Japan, Warner Bros. and Universal Parks & Resorts. Actors James and Oliver Phelps, who played Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter film franchise, were also on hand for the announcement.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter rides and shops opened at Floridas Universal Orlando Resort nearly two years ago and have been a huge hit.

Read the rest of the story: Harry Potter theme-park attraction to open in Japan.

Woman slashes fifth-grader in Osaka

A woman was arrested for attempted murder after attacking an 11-year-old boy Wednesday at an elementary school in Osaka and seriously wounding him, police said.

The boy, who suffered injuries to his chest and limbs, was taken to a hospital.

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Osaka Dine & Deal: Japan’s Second City Aims for No. 1 in Cuisine

The exodus of business people from Tokyo on the 155-minute bullet-train journey to the relative calm of Osaka this year gave restaurants in Japan’s second- biggest city a chance to show their talents to some new diners.

The nuclear-disaster worry has faded, though some of the nation’s finest cuisine remains in Osaka — it won more stars in the Michelin guide released in October. Osaka’s offerings include the finest traditional cuisine, including kushi katsu deep-fry and udon noodles, alongside European and Asian fare.

Here are our top choices for business dining in the city.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Second City Aims for No. 1 in Food: Osaka Dine & Deal.

Osaka Body Parts Killer – Found Pieces of Wife and Son Led to Arrest

A 57-year-old unemployed Osaka man has been arrested in connection with the suspected murder of his wife and son, whom he had reported missing in 2006 and whose body parts were found in recent days in three 18-liter containers, police said.

They arrested Yasutaka Fujimori on Monday after identifying the remains in the metal containers as those of his wife, Atsuyo, who was 47 when she was reported missing, and their son, Nobuaki, who was 21.

Fujimori lived in a condominium near where one of the three containers was discovered in Tennoji Ward.

Read the rest of the story: Body parts of wife, son net man’s arrest.

Japan needs to emancipate itself from generations of ideological stagnation

On a hot Friday evening in Osaka, Japan, the street musician Jun Fukuda is channelling Bob Marley on a downtown bridge. Not the feel-good, party-hearty Marley, but the mortality-questioning ballad Redemption Song.

As the 20-year-old belts out the lyrics “emancipate yourself from mental slavery”, he scans the 20 or so Japanese hipsters gathered around to be sure they are getting the point.

“There is no future in Japan for people like me,” Fukuda tells me, as a few of his buddies nod in agreement. “Our leaders are useless, our economy is bad, there’s nuclear stuff in my food. There is nothing out there for my generation.”

Read the rest of the story: Japan needs to emancipate itself from generations of ideological stagnation.