Whether it’s a maiden or return trip to Japan, its main island, the diverse Kansai area, has endless offerings for tourists—from shops and eats to immersive activities in cultural sites.
[Related story: Good hotel deal in Osaka–P6,500 for twin rooms]
Here are some activities you may enjoy when booking a tour with the newly opened Karaksa Hotel chain, which has branches in Osaka and Kyoto.
Make your own takoyaki at the Konamon Museum.
This museum restaurant near the Tonbori River in Osaka’s busy Shinsaibashi shopping district gives guests a crash course on how to make one of the city’s most sought-after delicacies.
The restaurant’s ground floor bar is where the magic happens: each “student” sits in front of a takoyaki maker and is provided ingredients from batter to fillings. The restaurant’s veteran cooks then guide guests through the process.
At Konamon, you can make your own takoyaki and eat it, too!
Create Japanese sweets at Kanshundo.
An hour’s drive from Osaka is this quaint sweets shop in Kyoto, which allows guests to practice the fine art of molding and designing mochi.
Held in the shop’s quiet upstairs room, the hourlong lesson is almost meditative, with students required to pay close attention to the delicate task of shaping and designing the sweets.
Ingredients and tools are provided, but it is up to guests to apply their dexterity to make the sweets just as they are designed to be: a lotus flower, an autumn leaf, or a mochi ball that evokes the image of the morning dew.
Students may take home their masterpieces, but pre-made sweets are served at the end of the class, with the city’s exquisite green tea.
Wear the kimono at Yumeyakata.
There is perhaps nothing more immersive than wearing Japan’s traditional garb, the kimono. Head off to Yumeyakata Kimono Rental Shop in Kyoto, one of the city’s biggest, and check out the various packages.
The premium package offers the best experience: from choosing among hundreds of kimonos in various patterns and colors, to hairstyling and a shoot for souvenir photos.
The experience gives you a Japanese royal treatment of sorts, with at least two staffers working together to put on layers upon layers of garments on you (it is impossible for you to put it on yourself). It is not for the prude or fainthearted.
You may have to hold your breath, especially when the obi is bound around your waist, but it’s totally worth it.
And, of course, shopping!
For Filipinos, no overseas trip may ever be complete without some shopping. The Shinsaibashi area in the heart of Kyoto has a dizzying strip of retail shops always crawling with locals and tourists alike. If you want to shop somewhere a little less crowded, the Rinku Premium Outlet Store just off the Osaka proper near the airport offers a quieter alternative, but not behind in the variety of brands it offers.