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Japan: migration to Osaka

Osaka has become a popular destination for many trying to get out of Tokyo, since it's the third largest city in Japan and less than a three-hour train ride away. Some major airlines, including Lufthansa and Alitalia, announced the re-routing of flights from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Osaka, turning the city into a major transportation hub.

Hotels have filled up in Osaka and some major U.S. chains, like the Ritz Carlton Osaka, are completely booked for at least the next week. "Since the earthquake happened, many residents in the Tokyo area are coming here to ask about accommodation for a few days or a week," said Sadako Hayakawa of the Osaka Tourism Bureau.

A number of foreign embassies shifted operations to Osaka last week. The normally quiet Austrian consulate in a small Osaka office was bustling with activity last Friday evening. Jutta Stefan-Bastl, Austrian ambassador to Japan, said the majority of the embassy's 30-person staff relocated to Osaka due to logistical reasons. They plan to stay put in Osaka until the end of April, she added.

A week after the earthquake, I talked with a friend running several hotels in Osaka. He told that the rooms are fully booked (at the highest rates) but about half of the rooms were empty, as people had trouble to reach Osaka by trains. Also many events (like weddings) were canceled.

by das monde on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:44:25 PM EST
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