Dubbed as the“Land of the Rising Sun”, Japan is of the most advanced nations thriving in Asia. A couple of weeks ago, I visited Osaka, Japan’s third largest and second-most important city after its capital. It has in fact been a crucial economic powerhouse for its surrounding prefectures and for the entire nation as a whole. Alright, moving on from all these factual and technical information about Osaka, let me tell you about my Osaka- Japan experience and some pointers you should take note of if you are visiting this amazing country.

In Japan, the locals seldom speak English and they are not proficient in the language. As non-Japanese-speaking Singaporeans, a language barrier is inevitable. There are several occasions when I had to use hand languages and signs to signal my intentions. Therefore, it is advisable that you download relevant applications on your smartphones, which can aid you in translation. I recommend this application called “Learn Japanese” which includes up to 800 essential words and phrases spoken in native voices, which is very useful for travellers and new learners. And the best thing is, the application is free of charge! Trust me, this will save you a whole lot of hassle.

Rinku Premium Outlets

For all the shopaholics out there, do not miss out on Osaka! As the Japanese Yen weakens, the Singapore dollar is worth more in Japan. In other words, things are getting cheaper for us! This is your chance! Rinku Premium Outlets is one stop you should never miss. This giant mall boasts of many renowned brands like the Armani Factory Store, Ashworth and Burberry. However don’t expect these outlets to be selling the latest models of apparels or handbags. Most of the goods sold are from the older series but that does not diminish its popularity among the locals and tourists. This giant mall is just a stone’s throw away from the airport (approx 20 minutes bus ride), so it would be best to visit the mall only on the last day before your flight. Stop hesitating and grab them all while they are still available!

Naruto Whirlpools

For sightseeing, check out Osaka’s very own Naruto Whirlpools. This natural occurring event can be observed from the lower structure of the Ohnaruto Bridge, specially built for tourists and locals to enjoy the picturesque view. Wonder how the whirlpools came about? For those who are interested to know more about the vortex, your question will be answered from the information boards along the bridge. Under ideal conditions, you may observe the whirlpool swirling at a diameter of 20 metres and a speed of 20 kilometres per hour. However, during calm days, there is not much to be seen. Therefore, it will be good to check out the whirlpool schedules before making a trip there.

Just like other countries, the same “house rules” apply to when you are at Japan. Respect their country, their law, their people and their own code of etiquette. For example, when making payments at the cashier, it is common for the Japanese to place a tray at the counter to collect the payments. It is deemed disrespectful to disregard the tray and pass the money straight to the cashier by hand. These are small little unique house rules that the Japanese have and as tourists, it is best that we respect and abide by them.