‘6 Million people play Rugby around the world according to statistics. 3.2 million of whom are registered players.’
Are you one of them? Each week heading out onto a muddy pitch to do battle with the opposition. The clash of heads in the scrum, the maul, the ruck! Perhaps you’re the winger bombing down the touchline for a try? Maybe you’re the hooker or the Number 9? Whichever position, your love for Rugby is about to go through the roof! The Rugby World Cup is coming to Japan. Are you ready?
From Oita in the South to Sapporo in the North – rugby fans are about to descend on Japan to watch the 20 Nations battle it out for the title: World Champions. It all begins on 20th September. So what can you do in-between fixtures? We give you some tips.
The capital is the obvious place to start. It’s a big city (bit of an understatement!), so trying something with a local is a perfect way of getting under Tokyo’s skin. Trying green tea or wandering through the shopping streets of Shibuya will open your eyes to the how tradition and modern living juxtapose seamlessly. A look around Tokyo’s temples and gardens are far removed from the bustle of the busy streets. And Japan is very much about the food! Food tours are the perfect way to capture the underbelly (apologies) of this fantastic city.
Of course, no trip to Tokyo should go without visiting some of its well-known highlights. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Skytree, even Mt Fuji! Enjoy the rugby but also take the time to enjoy this super metropolis.
Japan’s second city, Osaka, is another bustling metropolis. So guided tours are an excellent way to feel comfortable in a crowded city and the best way to fully appreciate the culture. Away from the Rugby World Cup, Osaka is another place where food is central to daily life. Tour the main food street, enjoy delicious snacks and sake in the hidden food outlets, but also make sure to see the castle. You can even pop along to Universal Studios or take a day trip to nearby Kobe. Kyoto isn’t far away either and makes for a perfect couple of days away. Temples and tranquility, something all rugby fans may need after some hard sport and hard drinking!
Head north, and we mean way north, and the city of Sapporo is about as different to Tokyo and Osaka as you can get. The rugby matches will be played in the Sapporo Dome, which will create its own unique atmosphere. Outside the snow may not have arrived but it soon will. So make sure to explore the open city streets if you can. Also head into the nearby mountains. Fresh air and good food awaits. It’s a perfect combination.
Other cities (Kobe, Fukuoka)
Away from the major cities, other areas around Japan will play host to matches. Some like Kobe and Fukuoka in the South, to Tokyo’s near neighbours Yokohama (where the final will be held). Each city has its own cultural vibe, speciality food and attractions. Remember the devastation of the earthquake in Kobe (1995)? Now it’s a buzzing city with vibrant, modern facilities and waterfront attractions. Fukuoka and Oita will give you an idea of Southern Japan. Both places have some amazing food (Motsunabe in Fukuoka and Toriten in Oita), and let’s just say it’s a little more relaxed.
Japan is such a culturally different country to what many of us are familiar with. The food, the way of life, even down to the eating habits. Sport though brings everyone together and what better way to unwrap a country than the Rugby World Cup and the chance to explore? Make the most of your time in Japan, and make sure to enjoy the Rugby too!
Come on England!!