After several years of being closed to tourism during the pandemic, the country of Japan is open again. We returned for the first time since 2019, in March and April of 2023. And we found Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto to be just as vibrant as ever. Let’s help you with meetings and events in Japan!
Tokyo Recommended Activities and Itinerary
The capital of Japan and largest city in the world depending on your metric, Tokyo is many things, but never boring. Just riding around on the subways and commuter rail and wandering the many districts can provide a lifetime of fun for most. There are some attractions that require buying tickets far in advance to guarantee admission, but we’ve found them worth it: Ghibli Museum is dedicated to the famed animation studio. Owl Cafe Akiba Fukurou Tokyo, offers the opportunity to hang out with owls for a bit! And teamLab Planets is an immersive interactive digital museum. Tokyo Whiskey Library offers an extensive list of whiskeys from Japan and around the word in a lovely setting. Before you leave, take a journey to the observation deck of Tokyo Skytree, world’s tallest tower, to see from above what you’ve been exploring.
Osaka Recommended Activities and Itinerary
Japan’s third largest city, Osaka is just a three hour journey via Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. While Osaka is dominated by tall glass towers just like Tokyo, Osaka Castle, a fortification in the heart of the city, is worth a visit. The castle was built in the 16th century and heavily reconstructed in the 20th. Dotonbori is the brightly-lit “drinking district” along its namesake canal, a great place to sample nightlife. Then treat yourself to a “spa day” at the Conrad Osaka Hotel, where you can get a truly luxurious massage. The many restaurants at the Conrad are also worth visiting, and the numerous meeting rooms would make this hotel a memorable conference spot. Additional meeting options can be found at Grand Prince Osaka (formerly Hyatt Osaka) which is near the INTEX convention center.
Kyoto Recommended Activities and Itinerary
Japan’s pre-modern era capital, Kyoto, is now the country’s ninth-largest city, still large (1 1/2 million people) but with a mellower feeling than Tokyo and Osaka. Kyoto’s biggest attraction is all its temples–go a mile in any direction and you’ll hit something. Kyoto’s many streets are filled with wood framed houses, a stark change from the other glass-and-concrete Japanese cities, a legacy from avoiding extensive bombing during World War II. Rent a mamachari bicycle from one of the numerous rental companies (remember to ride on the left!) and explore the temples, rivers, and bars. We love visiting Kyoto Beer Lab on the bank of the Takasegawa River.
Though I love all three cities, as a Portland-based meeting and event planner, Kyoto is my whole vibe! We stayed in the central city and found it easy to walk to a bike rental shop and just go toodling around the city by bike, visiting shops, restaurants, brewpubs, and temples along the way.
If we can help you with meetings and events in Japan, let us know! We have great partners in-country that support additional offsites, airport transfers, and transportation. We can craft a great itinerary for you.
Additional writing: Shawn Granton