The charms of Osaka — Japan’s second economic center
— are found in its inventive cuisine, seemingly endless
shopping, and quirky performance art (it’s the birthplace
of bunraku, Japanese puppet theater, and manzai, stand-up comedy). Developed as a mercantile trading center
during the Edo Period, Osaka is still a main center of
commerce — and a destination that tourists love for its
massive shopping complexes, including Japan’s longest
street of shops, Tenjinbashi-Suji.
Osaka’s fierce independence lends itself well to
groups who are already familiar with Japan’s other
major cities. Many of its unique attractions and cultural traditions can be incorporated into private events.
Live demonstrations of sho — Japanese calligraphy in
which artists use their emotions and entire body in the
artistic process — are popular. Bunraku, along with
other Japanese performing arts, can be performed in
English at Yamamoto Noh Theater, which also allows
for private events, letting guests dine while they enjoy
The Osaka International Convention Center has exhibition and conference space in the heart of the city for
groups of up to 2,700. International House Osaka has a
main hall equipped with a stage that seats about 1,000
guests, along with 14 meeting rooms.
For more information: Osaka Convention & Tourism
Bureau — + 81 ( 6) 6282 5911; email@example.com;
Straddled by mountains and sea, the port city of Kobe is
a 30-minute drive from Osaka and an hour-and-a-half
drive from Nagoya. This urban, modern city has a diverse
population due its long history as a major trade center,
and many international organizations are headquartered there, including the World Health Organization
Centre for Health Development and the United Nations
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
One of Japan’s premier international convention
venues, Kobe Convention Center opened in 1981, and
its extensive conference and exhibition facilities are all
linked by covered walkways. Kobe Convention Center
is also closer to the airport than any other convention
center in Japan. Trains running every five minutes from
neighboring Sannomiya Station can take attendees
downtown as well as to the Shinkansen bullet train and
Kobe’s culinary scene should not be missed — this
is, after all, the city that invented Kobe beef. Kobe’s
Nada district is revered as Japan’s premier center for
sake production. Kobe Animal Kingdom offers a beautiful natural setting for groups of up to 1,500 in its air-conditioned greenhouse, where guests can dine inside
an aviary that is home to rare birds, along with native
flora and fauna.
Arima Onsen, about a 20-minute drive, is Japan’s
oldest hot-spring village, dating back 1,300 years. The
nearby Mount Rokko range supplies another stunning
backdrop for events. Evening barbecues at the summit
offer panoramic views of the lit-up city.
For more information: Kobe Convention & Visitors
Association — + 81 ( 78) 303 0090; yukiko_nakajima@
NEON DREAM Osaka’s flashy Dōtonbori entertainment district
runs parallel to a canal of the same name, drawing locals and
visitors alike to its many restaurants and attractions.
TASTE OF JAPAN The Kobe Shu-Shin-Kan Brewery in Kobe’s
Nada district, famous for producing some of Japan’s best sakes,
accommodates receptions, banquets, and other private events.