5 Hour Activities


HANSHIN KOSHIEN STADIUM
1-82 Koshien-cho, Nishinomiya
+81-79-8-49-4509
hanshin.co.jp/koshien

PLAY BALL!

  • Take in a game at Japan’s oldest ballpark, built in 1924
  • Learn the ropes of cheering along with baseball-crazed Osakans
  • Savor delicious local ballpark snacks

If you’ve only seen baseball played in North America—and thought no culture could love the game more—you’re in for a delightful surprise. Japan is about as hard-core devoted as it gets to the so-called American pastime, and while the rules of the game here are essentially the same, the experience is something else entirely. Osaka’s home team, the Hanshin Tigers, play at Hanshin Koshien Stadium, the oldest ballpark in Japan, opened in 1924. (Fun fact: Boston’s Fenway Park is America’s oldest professional park, and, much like the resident Red Sox and the New York Yankees, the Hanshin Tigers are longtime rivals with the bigger-city Yomiuri Giants, from Tokyo.) Before the game, you’ll definitely want to stock up on some vital fan equipment: perhaps a pair of plastic cheer bats, or a tiger-striped towel to wave at appropriate intervals. And you’ll absolutely want to scope out the snack bar. Instead of peanuts and Cracker Jacks, try chewy dried-eel sticks, or dig into bento boxes filled with pickled fish and vegetables. Once the game starts, the nonstop cheering might make you hoarse. No need to wait in line again for a drink—just flag down the neon-clad beer girl hustling up and down the aisles for a cold pint of Asahi or Kirin, which she’ll pour from a mini-keg strapped to her back. Remember to be respectful when the other team is at bat—no taunts or booing at this ballpark. And make sure you’re in your seat for the bottom of the seventh inning, when fans inflate and launch thousands of colored balloons into the air, engulfing the stadium in a rainbow-hued cloud. Win or lose, a Tigers game is always a thrill.
Japan’s baseball season begins in late March or early April and runs through the playoffs in October. Game tickets can be arranged in advance by the Conrad concierge. A taxi from the Conrad Osaka to Hanshin Koshien Stadium usually takes about 30 minutes, but can vary depending on traffic, which may be heavy on game days. To take the train, walk to either Fukushima Station or Umeda Hanshin Station (both are five minutes from the hotel) and take the Hanshin Line to Koshien Station (15 minutes); the stadium is a five-minute walk from the station.

HANSHIN KOSHIEN STADIUM
1-82 Koshien-cho, Nishinomiya
+81-79-8-49-4509
hanshin.co.jp/koshien

KIYOMIZU-DERA
1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-551-1234
kiyomizudera.or.jp/en

NIJO-JO
541 Nijojo-cho, Nakagyo-ko, Kyoto
+81-75-841-0096
www2.city.kyoto.lg.jp/bunshi/nijojo/english

SHORAIAN
Sagakamenoo-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-861-0123

UNCOVER THE BEST OF KYOTO

  • Plan the perfect day-trip to Japan’s most romantic city—just half an hour away
  • Roam among 1,200-year-old temples and imposing shogun castles
  • Relax over a delectable kaiseki-style lunch beside a tranquil river /li>

Only a half hour away by train, Kyoto is a wonderland of ancient shrines, temples, and cobblestoned lanes lined with wooden houses, where you can often spot geisha darting by at dusk. It’s impossibly atmospheric—the wildly romantic Japan of your imagination. It’s also impossible to fully explore in one outing, so a day trip to Kyoto requires strategic prioritizing. During cherry-blossom season (by far the most popular time in Kyoto), you’ll want to explore Gion, the city’s historic geisha district, or stroll down the Philosopher’s Path, a stone walkway leading to temples large and small alongside a narrow canal fringed with blooming trees. In autumn, Kyoto’s resplendent foliage is best admired from Kiyomizu-dera, a 1,200-year-old Buddhist temple situated high on a hillside. At any time of year, parents with curious kids in tow will enjoy touring the Tokugawa-era shogun castle, Nijo-jo, where so-called “nightingale” floors (that “sing” by creaking and squeaking) helped detect intruding ninja. Another all-season favorite is Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, a Zen Buddhist temple whose gold-leaf façade reflects brilliantly in the adjacent pond. If time allows, head west to the leafy Arashiyama district, where you can wander through bamboo forests and meditate on the area’s natural beauty over lunch at Shoraian, a traditional tofu-focused restaurant where kaiseki-style courses are served in beautiful tatami-clad rooms overlooking a peaceful river.
From the Conrad, walk north to Osaka Station and take the JR Line to Kyoto Station (about 30 minutes), then take a taxi between the sights.

KIYOMIZU-DERA
1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-551-1234
kiyomizudera.or.jp/en

NIJO-JO
541 Nijojo-cho, Nakagyo-ko, Kyoto
+81-75-841-0096
www2.city.kyoto.lg.jp/bunshi/nijojo/english

SHORAIAN
Sagakamenoo-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-861-0123

TODAI-JI
406-1 Zoshi-cho, Nara
+81-74-2-22-5511
todaiji.or.jp

KASUGA TAISHA
160 Kasugano-cho, Nara
+81-74-2-22-7788
kasugataisha.or.jp

MAKE A PILGRIMAGE TO NARA

  • Visit the ancient Todai-ji shrine and its splendid Great Buddha
  • Feed the free-roaming deer in beautiful Nara Park
  • Wander through a mystical, moss-covered forest

Just east of Osaka, less than an hour away, is the beguiling ancient city of Nara. Founded in 710, this was Japan’s first permanent capital, and it has the historical landmarks and pedigree to prove it. Nara’s compact cityscape is easy to navigate, and the best place to begin is at Todai-ji. The 8th-century Buddhist temple is most famous for its Daibutsu (Great Buddha), an impressive 16-meter-tall bronze statue. While touring the complex, you’ll also find a support pillar with a hole in it—those laughing children you see squeezing themselves through the hole are said to be assured enlightenment. (Adults, attempt at your own risk!) From here you’ll pass between two menacing statues guarding the large wooden Nandaimon Gate to Nara Park, home to hundred of free-roaming deer who are eager to be fed special crackers, shika senbei, that are for sale around the park. In the Shinto faith, deer are reveerd as messengers to the gods, and you’ll spot them throughout the park, in the adjacent woods, and along pathways leading to Nara’s most important Shinto shrine, Kasuga Taisha. This ancient site has an almost mystical atmosphere, set deep in the forest, surrounded by pathways lined with mossy stone lanterns and hidden satellite sanctuaries that beg to be explored.
Nara is 40 to 60 minutes from the Conrad by taxi, depending on traffic. To take the train, walk five minutes south to Higobashi station and take the Yotsubashi (blue) subway to Namba station. The train to Nara departs from Kintetsu Namba Station. Take the Kintetsu Nara Line (rapid express, 35 minutes) to Nara Station. Walking between the various sites takes about 20 minutes total.

TODAI-JI
406-1 Zoshi-cho, Nara
+81-74-2-22-5511
todaiji.or.jp

KASUGA TAISHA
160 Kasugano-cho, Nara
+81-74-2-22-7788
kasugataisha.or.jp

MOMOFUKU ANDO INSTANT RAMEN MUSEUM
8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda
+81-72-7-51-0825
instantramen-museum.jp

SLURP UP HISTORY

  • Visit the birthplace of instant ramen—and tour a museum dedicated to its inventor
  • Learn the fascinating backstory of Japan’s most globally beloved food
  • Create your own Cup Noodles flavor, or make instant ramen from scratch

You may not have heard of Ikeda City, a northern suburb of Osaka, or its most famous son, Momofuku Ando. But you probably are familiar with instant ramen, which was first invented here by Ando in 1958. Today, more than 100 billion servings of Cup Noodles are consumed every year, making these instant noodles the most widespread culinary product to come from Osaka. To honor Ando’s legacy and the global cult of ramen, a museum was erected in Ikeda, about half an hour from the Conrad by train or taxi. The hands-on Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum brings the invention and development of instant noodles to life. The best exhibits here are the most interactive, such as the “My Cup Noodles Factory,” wherein visitors decorate a cup, choose a soup flavor, and select ingredients (cheese, green onions, fish sausage, et cetera), which are then mixed and sealed for you to take home and eat. Those with more time should sign up in advance for the “Chicken Ramen Factory,” a 90-minute session in which pairedparticipants make instant ramen from scratch. It’s a family-friendly activity open to all noodle-loving adults and kids from elementary-school age and up. If energy flags, visit the tasting room, where vending machines dish out the classic Chicken Ramen, Cup Noodles, and limited-edition varieties from other prefectures.
From the Conrad, walk north to Umeda Station and take the Hankyu-Takarazuka Line train to Ikeda Station. From the station, the museum is a (well-signed) 10-minute walk south. A taxi from the hotel to the museum takes about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

MOMOFUKU ANDO INSTANT RAMEN MUSEUM
8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda
+81-72-7-51-0825
instantramen-museum.jp

HOSOO
752 Bisyamon-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-441-5189
hosoo-kyoto.com

KAMISOE
11-1 Higashi Fujinomori-cho Murasakino, Kita-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-432-8555
kamisoe.comK

UCHU WAGASHI
307 Shintomi-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-201-4933
uchu-wagashi.jp

KOHCHOSAI KOSUGA
74 Nakajima-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyo
+81-75-221-8687
kohchosai.co.jp

KAIKADO
84-1 Umeminato-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-351-5788
kaikado.jp/english

ASAHIYAKI
11 Uji-Yamada, Uji-shi, Kyoto
+81-774-23-2511

DESIGN HOUSE KYOTO
105 Fukunaga-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-221-0200
kyoto-dh.com/en

SHOP FOR ARTISAN CRAFTS

  • Take a jaunt to Kyoto to find Japan’s finest handicrafts
  • Meet celebrated artisans in their workshops
  • Pick up one-of-a-kind souvenirs and gifts

For centuries, the capital of traditional Japanese crafts has been Kyoto—a city where skills are passed down through generations and the exquisite local products range from bamboo chopsticks to extravagant silk kimonos. Hours can be spent blissfully hopping between Kyoto’s countless ateliers, artisan shops, and showrooms in pursuit of the perfect gift or souvenir. But here’s how to shop the very best of the city in less than five hours round-trip from Osaka. From Kyoto Station (30 minutes by train from Osaka Station), take a taxi to Nishijin, Kyoto’s historical weaving district, where you’ll find Hosoo (open by appointment only), a textile mill founded in the 1600s and sustained through 12 generations that today produces richly textured silk fabrics for kimonos, fashion projects, and interior design. Nearby, a restored machiya (traditional wooden house) serves as the workshop of celebrated artisan Ko Kado, whose on-site showroom Kamisoe offers gorgeous karakami—decorative woodblock prints on handmade washi paper—used for sliding screen doors, wallpaper, and even stationery. Your next stop: Uchu Wagashi, a specialist in pastel-hued wagashi, artistic teatime confections crafted from mochi, fruits, and bean paste. Further south, Kohchosai Kosuga operates an elegant shop filled with bamboo housewares, from simple rice spoons to graceful handwoven baskets. Visit Kaikado for the tin tea caddies—as well as coffee tins and handled jars—that have been produced in precisely the same way since 1875. You’ll find lovely Uji-clay pottery at Asahiyaki, on the southern outskirts of the city, where a 15th-generation artisan crafts pieces that will elevate any modern-day tea ceremony. Make your final rounds at Design House Kyoto, a thoughtfully curated shop filled with range of crafts from Japanese artisans, including ceramic sake sets, colorful washi tape, and Nishijin-fabric card cases.
From the Conrad, walk north to Osaka Station and take the JR Line to Kyoto Station (about 30 minutes), then hail a taxi to shuttle between the shops below.

HOSOO
752 Bisyamon-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-441-5189
hosoo-kyoto.com

KAMISOE
11-1 Higashi Fujinomori-cho Murasakino, Kita-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-432-8555
kamisoe.comK

UCHU WAGASHI
307 Shintomi-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-201-4933
uchu-wagashi.jp

KOHCHOSAI KOSUGA
74 Nakajima-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyo
+81-75-221-8687
kohchosai.co.jp

KAIKADO
84-1 Umeminato-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-351-5788
kaikado.jp/english

ASAHIYAKI
11 Uji-Yamada, Uji-shi, Kyoto
+81-774-23-2511

DESIGN HOUSE KYOTO
105 Fukunaga-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
+81-75-221-0200
kyoto-dh.com/en