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The Weekender: Tokyo and Osaka

Here’s how to see two Japanese cities in 72 hours with an indeterminate amount of sushi

If there’s one thing that defines Japan, it’s the meticulous attention to detail found at every turn. It’s a place with as much peace as buzzing chaos depending on where you find yourself, but always with methodical perfection (and, at times, kitsch) as a common thread throughout. The charm in this is easy to see if you look closely, particularly in the country’s cultural epicenter, where nods to Japan’s past, present, and future are concentrated in one beautifully packaged, dynamic ball of energy.

To find calm within Tokyo is surprisingly easy, if you know where to look. Accommodation is a good place to start, ensuring a given escape at the end of a day of sightseeing. And venturing outside the city is a great option, too. Luckily, this guide spans both approaches for a whirlwind 72-hour tour of two of Japan’s most iconic locales. Read on for a perfectly curated itinerary to Tokyo and Osaka, ideal for the energetic and hungry with an eye for charming detail.

Friday Morning:

Check into the Conrad Tokyo. Chances are you’ve traveled quite a while to get here, so the first thing on your agenda is a thorough relaxation session at the hotel’s extraordinary spa on the 29th floor. Mizuki Spa’s extensive service menu makes choosing difficult, but one can’t go wrong with a custom massage or treatment; for those who prefer to let the spa drive the experience, opt for the “Spirit” therapy from the signature menu for a unique and thoughtful series of treatments honoring Japanese culture and tradition.

Friday Afternoon:

By the time you’ve finished your spa visit, your room will likely be ready for you to settle into. Spend some time taking in your accommodations (and the view) before heading out on the town for some exploring. The hotel is located within walking distance of Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood, the perfect place to begin when getting acquainted with the city; it serves as one of the top shopping districts in Asia and is the perfect place to get lost in while reveling in quintessential Tokyo.

Friday Evening:

After taking some time to refresh (read: nap) in the room, head to dinner at Kazahana for contemporary Japanese cuisine and sprawling city views; China Blue is also a great option, offering inventive Chinese dishes also served with stunning views of Hamarikyu Garden and Tokyo Bay. Both restaurants are located inside the hotel. If you’re in the mood for a nightcap later, make your way over to TwentyEight for a cocktail and live music to end the evening.

Saturday Morning:

Wake up early for a quick breakfast at the hotel followed by a bit of sightseeing at the tail end of your time in Tokyo. Depending on your personal priorities and preferences, consider choosing a few points of interest like the Tsukiji fish market, teamLab (a global collection of immersive art spaces with two installations in Tokyo), the futuristic Roppongi Hills neighborhood, the Asakusa Kannon Temple, and many more (your concierge can help put together a custom itinerary for you upon request).

Saturday Afternoon:

After a long morning of running around from sight to sight, you’ll want to sit down for a leisurely lunch before making your way to the station. Pop into a local sushi restaurant on the way back to the hotel (again, your concierge can send a few recommendations your way). From there, gather your things from the hotel and make your way toward Shin-Osaka Station to catch the bullet train to Osaka. You’ll want to snag a window seat for this ride––the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking.

Once you’ve arrived to Osaka, take a car over to Conrad Osaka and check in. Before heading to your new digs, take some time to check out the one-of-a-kind lobby art installment by Japanese artist Kohei Nawa. The views surrounding it aren’t too shabby, either.

Saturday Evening:

Once you’ve taken some time to regroup and freshen up, cozy up to a table at 40 Sky Bar & Lounge for a pre-dinner drink. For dinner,  an interactive street food tour around the Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi areas. You can inquire about setting up a formal tour, otherwise (if you’re feeling adventurous) simply take a car to the neighborhood and wander around in search of interesting bites.

Sunday Morning:

Spend some time sightseeing in Osaka. There’s so much to see and with just a few hours, choose wisely: some great options include the Umeda Sky Building in the Kita district, the historic Osaka Castle, the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku), and the Expo ‘70 Commemorative Park. One last sushi lunch awaits back at Kura inside the hotel.

Sunday Afternoon:

It’s time to pack up and make your way to the Osaka airport. Bid farewell to the dreamland that is this beautiful port city and get to planning your return trip––there’s much to be seen, eaten, and experienced.