Snow Leads to Lucky Escape: This Week in Osaka March 1st to 8th 2024

Each week, here at, we bring you a selection of some of the top stories about Osaka making the local and national news here in Japan. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always direct to you, from Osaka.

Here’s a look at some of the stories hitting the headlines in Osaka this week.

Snow Brings Avalanche, Osaka Man Escapes

A rescue helicopter in action in Japan’s Southern Alps.

An Osaka resident had a lucky escape this week. The 53 year-old was part of a group of 10 people hiking in the Southern Alps, in Nagano Prefecture last Saturday. Heavy, drifting snow in the area led to an avalanche. The Osaka man, along with his 38 year old companion from Toyama Prefecture, had to be rescued by helicopter.

The remaining members of the group managed to navigate the snow drifts and hike back down the mountain on their own. Reports suggest the group were on the mountain to partake in both hiking and cross-country skiing. Conditions unexpectedly worsened after a somewhat mild end to last week.

Incident Reminds Hikers of the Dangers of Snow

The Southern Alps, Nagano Prefecture. A place of great natural beauty, but also considerable danger.

The incident in Nagano’s Southern Alps took place on Mount Kazafuki, a 1,888 meter high mountain. At the time of the avalanche, no severe weather warning had been issued in the area. However, a warning did arrive soon after, as temperatures dropped as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius over Saturday night. Snow blanketed much of Japan over the weekend, as the cold snap put paid to many travel plans. Osaka, thankfully, escaped with just a light dusting of sleet.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says that further snow could be a possibility over the next few days. However, this is unlikely to affect Osaka. Local officials have, however warned residents to take extra care to wrap up warm in what will still be extremely cold conditions. Winter, it seems, is with us for a while yet. 

Osaka Medics on Alert Amid New Bacterial Threat

Streptococcal Bacteria: a growing threat for Osaka’s residents.

Osaka’s medical sector is in a state of raised alertness this week. Statistics released this week show a nationwide surge in acute streptococcal bacterial infections. Once these infections reach the acute stage, the fatality rate varies from 30% to 70%. Medics voiced concern this week as the number of reported streptococcal infections this year is on course to far exceed last year. 2023 already saw a record number of such infections. However, by the end of Feburary, Osaka has already seen 40% of the total number of cases recorded throughout all of 2023.

In most cases, streptococcal infection does not proceed to the acute stage. Most commonly seen in children, it typically manifests as a sore throat that lingers for several days. However, in some cases, the condition can escalate to more serious issues, like strep throat, pneumonia, and most dangerously, meningitis. Much like Covid-19, whilst the vast majority of those infected will fully recover, the more people who get infected, the higher the number of acute cases there will be.

Experts advise residents to take extra time to wash their hands thoroughly, gargle regularly, and seek medical help if they have a persistent sore throat The common route of transmission for streptococcal infection is, like Covid, droplets expelled from the nose and mouth, or direct physical contact.

And Finally….

Osaka Police’s new recruitment poster.

Osaka’s police force unveiled a new recruitment campaign this week, centering around a quintessentially Osaka image. A new poster, released on March 2nd, shows a steaming hot takoyaki, a battered octopus ball, topped off with a police officer’s hat. The underlying message: “Are you as hot about justice as a freshly cooked takoyaki?”

The image is, of course, tongue in cheek, but it reflects a wider softening of Japan’s attitude to recruiting police officers. Alongside the humorous ad, Osaka police also confirmed that from fiscal 2024, they will follow the example of several other prefectures in Japan, and remove physical requirements for new officers. Previously, rules dictated that prospective officers must be at least 150 cm tall for women, and 160 cm in the case of men. This no longer applies.

The number of applicants seeking to join Osaka’s police force has almost halved since 2018. Recruiters hope that a more relaxed approach will encourage previously reticent candidates to have a go at the entrance exams. Entrance exams for the police force take place three times per year, with the latest round beginning last Friday.

In keeping with the good humor, an Osaka police official said this week: “We want people to feel as familiar with policing as they are with takoyaki!”

It is indeed true that nobody balances comedy with duty quite like the people of Osaka!

That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!


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