Weather, Transportation, Tourism Websites, Money and ATMs
Kansai weather provides four distinct seasons. Regional weather varies from the coast along the Sea of Japan to the mountains of the Kii Peninsula.
Winter brings snow to the north and generally moderate temperatures in the south.
Spring offers a mix of light rain and clear skies to welcome the cherry blossoms.
The summer festivals occur with high daytime temperatures and off-and-on precipitation.
Fall colors usher in cool days and crisp air.
In all types of weather you can enjoy Japan.
Follow the blooming of sakura with this forecast map in English.
Weather forecast in Osaka area
Trains often become the favorite form of transportation for traveling in Kansai outside of Shijonawate. Taxis, bicycles and shoes work well for moving around closer to home.
Trains almost always provide reliable, on-time travel. Even the local trains run strictly tied to the clock. Typical train travel times from Shijonawate include:
- Osaka Station (Central Osaka) – 25-35 minutes
- Osaka Namba (Shopping Area) – 40-45 minutes
- Osaka Castle Park – 15-25 minutes
- Kyoto – 1 hour
- Nara – 1 hour
- Sakurai (First Capital of Japan) – 1.25 hours
- Hikone (Beautiful Original Castle) – 1.45-2 hours
- Himeji (Huge Original Castle) – 1.5 hours
- Iga Ueno (Ninjas and Poets) – 1.5-1.75 hours
- Wakayama (Tokugawa Shogunate City) – 1.5-2 hours
Taxi drivers speak Japanese only. The Japanese word for taxi is タクシー, pronounced ta-ku-shii. To help your driver, write the destination address—including your home address—on paper. Your driver may take some time to look up an address before starting to drive. You pay in cash and do not tip. Verbally thank your driver—each possesses driving superpowers—polite, safe and efficient in small spaces!
Bicycles can quickly take you to almost anywhere in Shijonawate. You ride on the left side. We provide bicycles. Motor vehicles tend to respect bicycles. Give them a way to pass on narrow streets. Imitate how the locals bicycle.
Walking is enjoyable around Shijonawate, especially on the east-west shopping streets just north of the train Station. Shijonawate Shine is a short walk from your apartment. Iimoriyama—the obvious mountain in Shijonawate—has many hiking trails.
Travel by Train
Use Hyperdia for planning your train trips, even trips to nearby stations. It shows times, prices and transfers. Make sure you click on the options to specify the type of rail service. If you are traveling far, Hyperdia also include flight information. Visit Hyperdia website.
Japan Rail Pass
The Japan Rail Pass—commonly called the JR Pass—gives international tourists unlimited travel for a specified number of days on most Japan Rail trains, buses and ferries nationwide. Small surcharges apply to some destinations, such as rail access to Ise City.
The pass includes the Shinkansen high speed trains with the exception of the Nozomi express trains. You must purchase an Exchange Order for the JR Pass in your home country. You use the Exchange Order to obtain your JR Pass after you arrive in Japan. The JR Pass is not available for purchase inside Japan.
Visit the JR Pass website for more information about purchasing, passport and travel requirements. Understanding the passport requirements is very important.
Other rail passes
Japan and private rail companies offer regional passes you can purchase in Japan. These give you unlimited travel for specified numbers of days. You should get the areas covered and amount of travel you expect to be doing before purchasing these passes.
Japan Rail West provides several different types of passes for Kansai. The passes are for JR trains. JR goes to most destinations in Kansai, including Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama and Kobe. The website shows coverage and destination maps for each pass.
Kansai Thru Pass gives you access to subways, non-JR railways and buses in Kansai. You can use these in Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama and Koyasan.
ICOCA IC Cards (PDF) are useful if you ride the local trains frequently. When you scan the card at a train station gate, you automatically pay for your trip. You can charge the card with more money when needed.
You purchase ICOCA cards at JR west station offices or vending machines. They work for JR, private rail lines, subways and buses in Kansai. If you carry a SUICA card from JR East, you can use it for Kansai transportation.
Map of rail lines around Shijonawate
Money: Yen, Credit Cards and ATMs
Japan is a cash society. While you can use credit cards at some shops and restaurants, many accept cash only.
One of the best ways to obtain cash uses the ATMs located in Seven-Eleven convenience stores, Seven Banks and Japanese Post Offices.
The ATMs work with debit and credit cards. Check with your financial institution about transaction, exchange and credit card cash advance fees.
The Seven Bank ATMs limit how much cash you can withdraw each day. The post office ATMs limit how much cash you can obtain for each transaction, but you can do multiple transactions sequentially. Your credit card or debit card may also limit how much you can withdraw daily at an ATM.
You can also bring all of the cash you need from your home country and change to Japanese yen at currency exchanges in the airports.
There are plenty of good websites to help you find destinations and things to do in Kansai.
Osaka City and Prefecture. This is the official website for tourism in Osaka.
Osaka Namba and Minami. This is the hip southern area of Osaka City. It contains lots of shopping and restaurants, plus several popular tourist attractions. This link contains many pages.
Osaka City Station and Umeda Station Area. This transportation center for Osaka City includes a lot of shopping and restaurants. It is Home of Yodobashi Camera, Kinokuniya Book Store, fashion stores and much more. Osaka City Station and Umeda Station Area provide separate links.
Osaka Castle Park. This is a beautiful park containing an historic castle surrounded by a moat.
Kyoto City. Kyoto is one of the most beautiful classical cities in Japan. It is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Japan.
Koyasan. Koyasan in is a tranquil destination with deep religious roots.
Nara. Nara City gives you a condensed experience in Old Japan in a relaxed sort of way.
Sakurai. Japanese know Sakurai City for its parks, food, ancient artifacts, historical pathways, festivals, Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.
Hikone City. Hikone City surprises you with concentrated beauty, especially its original castle and classical garden.
Himeji City. Himeji City possesses one of the rare original castles in Japan, well worth your travel time alone. It also has a modern Edo-era garden, a very long covered shopping arcade, museums and more.
Iga Ueno (PDF). Iga Ueno City celebrates both ninjas and poets with many attractions.
Wakayama City. During the Edo-era, Wakayama became one of the economic and political centers of the Tokugawa Shogunate families. It is known for its castle, beach area, Wakayama ramen soup, amusement park and more.