Crouch, bind, set for the 2019 Rugby World Cup™ in Japan! With matches spread over 12 venues in cities across the country, travelling for the Rugby World Cup™ lets you experience Japanese culture and hospitality beyond the usual tourist cities. From tasting tours at the Sapporo Beer Museum in Hokkaido to exploring Kumamoto Castle in Kyushu, Japan has plenty of things to do between matches during the Rugby World Cup™.
To help plan your itinerary, we've compiled things to do as well as what to eat and drink in each of the Rugby World Cup™ host cities. The first match kicks off 20 September in Tokyo, so grab your 2019 Rugby World Cup™ tickets and get ready for adventure.
Tips for getting around Japan during the Rugby World Cup™
Save money by purchasing a JR Rail Pass to take advantage of Japan's bullet-train network, catch matches in venues across the country and explore beyond Tokyo while you're at it. If you're short on time, book a quick domestic flight between cities.
Once you're on the ground, pick up a Wi-Fi router at the airport for unlimited wireless Internet in Japan. With the portable router, you can use all your favourite navigation and translation apps without using your phone's data.
Sapporo City - Sapporo Dome
Famous for Sapporo beer, world-class skiing and an annual snow festival, Sapporo is the northernmost city hosting Rugby World Cup™ matches in 2019. Between mountains of beautiful autumn foliage and a pumping nightlife, Sapporo has many things to do to between rugby matches. If you're a foodie, you won't want to miss the Sapporo Autumn Festival in Odori Park that runs to the end of September.
Rugby World Cup™ matches in Sapporo City:
|**Date**||**Match**||**Time**(All times are in BST)||**Match type**|
|Sat 21 Sept||Australia vs Fiji||5.45 a.m.||Pool D|
|Sun 22 Sept||England vs Tonga||11.15 a.m.||Pool C|
Things to do in Sapporo:
- Sapporo Dome - Get to the Rugby World Cup™ game early to explore the observation deck or take a tour of the futuristic sports complex on an off day.
- Sapporo Beer Museum - Learn about the history of beer in Japan and enjoy a beer tasting at the end of the brewery tour.
- Hokkaido Museum - From a woolly mammoth skeleton striding through the lobby to artefacts of the indigenous Ainu people, the Hokkaido Museum displays the long and fascinating history of Japan's northern island.
- Kimono rental and photoshoot - Get fitted with an authentic Japanese kimono and have a photoshoot in a traditional Japanese garden for an immersive cultural experience.
What to eat and drink in Sapporo:
- Sapporo Beer - On tap at the Sapporo Beer Garden. They also have an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet which includes unlimited crab.
- Miso Ramen - A Hokkaido speciality, miso ramen is made with miso broth (unsurprisingly) and topped with corn and a piece of locally produced butter for a rich umami flavour.
- Jingisukan - Thin sliced lamb and vegetables that you grill at your table on a special metal skillet. Fun fact: it's named after the Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan.
Kamaishi City - Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium
The serene seaside town of Kamaishi City bursts with rugby spirit. The Nippon Steel Corporation Kamaishi Rugby Club won seven national championships in a row from 1979-1985 and earned themselves the nickname the 'Ironmen of the North'. The Rugby World Cup™ teams will play in the newly built Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium which memorialises the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the area.
Rugby World Cup™ matches in Kamaishi:
|Sun 25 Sept||Fiji vs Uruguay||6.15 a.m.||Pool D|
|Sun 13 Oct||Namibia vs Canada||4.15 a.m.||Pool B|
Places to stay are limited in the area, so be sure to book your hotel in Kamaishi City sooner rather than later.
Things to do in Kamaishi City:
- Iron and Steel Museum - Discover the history of iron and steel making in Japan. Interactive displays recreate the first blast furnace in the country, and artefacts include raw iron ore and early steel-making tools.
- Kamaishi Festival - From October 18-20, watch performers in tiger costumes dance down the streets and boats adorned with colourful flags parade in the harbour.
- Kamaishi Daikannon Statue - A 159-foot (48.5 m) tall statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy looks out to the sea to watch over fishermen. Climb the inner stairway to an observation deck cradled in her arms for an awe-inspiring view of the Pacific Ocean.
What to eat and drink in Kamaishi City:
- Wanko soba noodles - An all-you-can-eat noodle game where the server keeps handing you small bowls of soba noodles until you declare defeat. Challenge your friends to see who can eat the most.
- Wine - Thanks to the soil in the Iwate region, small and large wineries abound, making it the perfect place to savour a glass of local Japanese wine.
- Fresh seafood - Head to the local fish market called Sunfish Kamaishi. Restaurants on the second floor serve freshly caught seafood including oysters, Japanese scallops and sea urchin. Dig into the local speciality of kaisendon, which consists of raw oysters, salmon, shrimp and fish roe, all served over a bowl of rice.
Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash
Tokyo - Kumagaya Rugby Stadium & Tokyo Stadium
Staying in the buzzing metropolis of Tokyo during your time in Japan for the Rugby World Cup™ gives you easy access to several match venues. Just hop on a train and you're in Kumagaya or Yokohama in less than an hour. Plus, Tokyo Stadium is hosting eight matches, including the opening between Japan and Russia on 20 September. Between shopping in Shinjuku, eating sushi in Tsukiji and learning the ways of the samurai in Shibuya, you surely won't run out of things to do in Tokyo during the Rugby World Cup™.
Rugby World Cup™ matches in Kumagaya:
|Sun 24 Sept||Russia vs Samoa||11.15 a.m.||Pool A|
|Sun 29 Sept||Georgia vs Uruguay||6.15 a.m.||Pool D|
|Wed 9 Oct||Argentina vs USA||5.45 a.m.||Pool C|
Kumagaya is an easy day trip from Tokyo, but the Saitama Prefecture has plenty of charm to entice you to stay for a few days. However, hotels in Kumagaya are more limited than in Tokyo, so it's better to book early.### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Tokyo:
|Sun 20 Sept||Japan vs Russia||11.45 a.m.||Pool A|
|Sat 21 Sept||France vs Argentina||8.15 a.m.||Pool C|
|Sun 29 Sept||Australia vs Wales||8.45 a.m.||Pool D|
|Sun 5 Oct||England vs Argentina||9.00 a.m.||Pool C|
|Sun 6 Oct||New Zealand vs Namibia||5.45 a.m.||Pool B|
|Sun 19 Oct||Pool B winner vs Pool A runner-up||11.15 a.m.||Quarter-finals|
|Sun 20 Oct||Pool A winner vs Pool B runner-up||11.15 a.m.||Quarter-finals|
|Fri 1 Nov||Semi-final 1 loser vs semi-final 2 loser||10.00 a.m.||Bronze final|
A top-notch public transport system makes it easy to stay anywhere in Tokyo and still get around to see the sights. Pick a hotel near Tokyo Stadium (also called Ajinomoto Stadium) to stay near the rugby action, or find a hotel in a neighbourhood that fits your interests with this guide on where to stay in Tokyo. ### Things to do in Tokyo:
- Robot Restaurant show - Experience samurai battling robot dinosaurs and ninjas riding giant frogs to pumping techno music under glowing neon lights.
- Go-kart on Tokyo roads - Rev your engine for a go-kart adventure on the streets of Tokyo. You can even dress up like your favourite video game character with provided costumes.
- Wear samurai armour - Learn about Japanese samurai history and culture while try on authentic armour for a photoshoot.
- Go shopping in Tokyo - Whether you're looking for the latest fashion, cutting-edge electronics or all things anime, you'll find it while shopping in Tokyo.
- Yanaka walking tour - For a glimpse at old Tokyo, take a guided walking tour through the historic Yanaka district. Visit the nearly 2,000-year-old Nezu Shrine and stroll along a shopping street of traditional boutiques.
What to eat and drink Tokyo:
- Bar-hoppingin Tokyo - Get an introduction to izakaya (Japanese pub) culture when you go bar-hopping with a local in Tokyo.
- Sushi - One of the best places in Tokyo to eat sushi is at the Tsukiji Fish Market, where you can see the day's fresh catch on display.
- Lunch with a sumo wrestler - Learn about the sport of sumo wrestling and watch a live demonstration by two former wrestlers before sitting down for a lunch of chankonabe hotpot.
Yokohama - International Stadium (Nissan Stadium)
Home to the largest Rugby World Cup™ venue, Yokohama is hosting seven games, including the thrilling final match, in International Stadium. The city of Yokohama is a hub of international trade, making it very welcoming and accessible to foreign visitors. While you can easily ride the train to Yokohama from Tokyo in just 18 minutes, this port city offers plenty of shopping, sightseeing and unique restaurants to warrant spending at least a few days exploring the city.### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Yokohama:
|Sat 21 Sept||New Zealand vs South Africa||10.45 a.m.||Pool B|
|Sun 22 Sept||Ireland vs Scotland||6.45 a.m.||Pool A|
|Sun 12 Oct||England vs France||9.15 a.m.||Pool C|
|Sun 13 Oct||Japan vs Scotland||11.45 a.m.||Pool A|
|Sun 26 Oct||Quarter-final 1 winner vs quarter-final 2 winner||9.00 a.m.||Semi-finals|
|Sun 27 Oct||Quarter-final 3 winner vs quarter-final 4 winner||9.00 a.m.||Semi-finals|
|Fri 2 Nov||Semi-final 1 winner vs semi-final 2 winner||9.00 a.m.||Final|
While you can easily reach International Stadium (also called Nissan Stadium) by public transport, put yourself in the heart of the Rugby World Cup™ excitement by booking a hotel near the Stadium in Yokohama.### Things to do in Yokohama:
- Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine - Take a guided tour of Kamakura's most important shrine dedicated to the patron deity of samurai. Forest-bathe under ancient trees and find samurai artefacts like swords and masks in the shrine museum. On 16 September, you can watch the 800-year-old tradition of yabusame (horseback archery) performed on the grounds during a festival.
- CupNoodles Museum Yokohama - This family-friendly museum explores how the beloved staple of instant ramen is made and how it was invented. You even get to make and take home your own unique Cup Noodles creation.
- Hedgehog cafe - Drink coffee while cuddling a variety of hedgehogs in this uniquely Japanese experience.
What to eat and drink in Yokohama:
- Yokohama food tour - From soft-serve ice cream in Chinatown to Yokohama's speciality spaghetti dish, take a guided tour of the unique cuisine that this city has to offer.
- Shinyokohama Raumen Museum - The world's first food-themed amusement park includes a gallery of the history of ramen and a food court featuring nine ramen restaurants serving different styles of this noodle dish from across Japan. English menus, vegetarian and no-pork options are available.
- Kirin Beer - The Kirin Beer Village offers complimentary brewery tours with a beer tasting.
Hamamatsu - Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa
Turn up the volume while cheering during the four Rugby World Cup™ matches in Hamamatsu's Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa. Chances are you've encountered cars, motorcycles and musical instruments manufactured in Hamamatsu for brands like Honda, Yamaha, Kawai and Suzuki. Known as the City of Music, even Hamamatsu's only skyscraper, the Act City Tower Observatory, was designed to look like a harmonica. ### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Hamamatsu:
|Sat 28 Sept||Japan vs Ireland||8.15 a.m.||Pool A|
|Fri 4 Oct||South Africa vs Italy||10.45 a.m.||Pool B|
|Wed 9 Oct||Scotland vs Russia||8.15 a.m.||Pool A|
|Fri 11 Oct||Australia vs Georgia||11.15 a.m.||Pool D|
Snag a hotel in Hamamatsu near Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa for easy access to and from the Rugby World Cup™ matches. ### Things to do in Hamamatsu:
- Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments - Peruse a collection of over 1,200 musical instruments from around the world and even have the chance to play some of them.
- Enjoy nature - From the shores of Lake Hamana, to the slopes of the Nakatajima Sand Dunes, to the underground waterfall in Ryugashido Cavern, there is plenty of outdoor adventure to experience around Hamamatsu.
- Hamamatsu Flower Park - Exhibiting over 3,000 different species of plant, you can see elaborate flower displays year round in the greenhouses.
- Watch Japanese powerboat racing - Watch racers zoom across the water during thrilling speedboat races at the Boat Race Hamanako stadium.
What to eat and drink in Hamamatsu:
- Green Tea - The misty mountains of Hokuen grow over 40 percent of Japan's high-quality green tea.
- Grilled eel - Unagi (eel) raised in Lake Hamana are highly prized across Japan for their firmness and rich taste.
- Gyoza - The citizens of Hamamatsu eat the most gyoza per person in all of Japan, so you know it must be good.
Toyota City - Toyota Stadium
Known for manufacturing - you guessed it -Toyota cars, Toyota City is set to host four matches during the Japan Rugby World Cup™. Auto enthusiasts can check out both the Toyota Automobile Museum and the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology to see some rare cars and how they were made. Nearby Nagoya is a more bustling city, offering plenty of things to do during the Rugby World Cup™.### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Toyota City:
|Mon 23 Sept||Wales vs Georgia||11.15 a.m.||Pool D|
|Sat 28 Sept||South Africa vs Namibia||10.45 a.m.||Pool B|
|Sun 5 Oct||Japan vs Samoa||11.30 a.m.||Pool A|
|Sun 12 Oct||New Zealand vs Italy||5.45 a.m.||Pool B|
- Toyota Automobile Museum - See Japanese, European and American automobiles dating from the late 1800s to now.
- Hida Takayama and Shirakawa-go day trip - Travel back in time to Japan's Edo period (1603-1867) as you explore the open-air museum of preserved houses at Hida Takayama. In Shirakawa-go, take in the picturesque gassho-zukuri farmhouses whose steep thatched roofs have withstood heavy snowfall for over 250 years.
- Nagoya Castle and gardens - Wander around the stronghold of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu at Nagoya Castle and admire the beautifully painted palace rooms. Then, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of several gardens and Atsuta Jingu Shrine with a knowledgeable guide.
What to eat and drink in Toyota City and Nagoya:
- Gohei-mochi - For something mildly sweet, try grilled sticky rice on a skewer covered with a sweet sauce.
- Hitsumabushi - Grilled eel served over rice is a famous regional speciality.
- Food tour in Nagoya - Grab a beer, slurp some noodles and meet the locals as your guide takes you to several standing bar restaurants around town.
Osaka - Hanazono Rugby Stadium
Built in 1929, the historic Hanazono Rugby Stadium might be one of the best places to watch a Rugby World Cup™ match in Japan. Osaka is known as Japan's party city and is full of izakaya (Japanese pubs) to celebrate or commiserate in after a game. Fill your belly with delicious street food as you stroll down Dotonbori Street, marvel at Osaka Aquarium's whale shark exhibit and explore the area's stunning castles and temples.### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Osaka:
|Sun 22 Sept||Italy vs Namibia||6.15 a.m.||Pool B|
|Sat 28 Sept||Argentina vs Tonga||5.45 a.m.||Pool C|
|Thurs 3 Oct||Georgia vs Fiji||6.15 a.m.||Pool D|
|Sun 13 Oct||USA vs Tonga||6.45 a.m.||Pool C|
Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto are well connected by train, making Osaka a good headquarters for your time in Japan during the Rugby World Cup™. Stay near the sightseeing and nightlife in a central Osaka hotel.### Things to do in Osaka:
- Osaka Aquarium - Considered one of the best aquariums in the world, Osaka Aquarium's highlights include adorable penguins, a huge whale shark and giant spider crabs.
- Biking tour of Osaka - Cycle around Osaka to discover its hip neighbourhoods and historic sights like Osaka Castle and the Japan Mint.
- Nara Deer Park - The local population of sacred deer are so used to people they will eat special deer crackers right out of your hand. Also in the park, Todaiji Temple houses one of Japan's largest bronze Buddha statues and is worth a look.
- Himeji Castle - Take a guided tour though Himeji Castle's maze-like passageways and beautifully preserved grounds at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Universal Studios Japan® - Take the whole family for thrilling theme park rides based on Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Jaws and more.
What to eat and drink in Osaka:
- Osaka food guide - Known as the Kitchen of Japan, Osaka's food scene is so legendary we wrote a whole guide on what to eat in Osaka.
- Kyoto food tours - Nearby Kyoto is one of the best places to enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and maybe catch a glimpse of a geisha while bar-hopping in Gion.
Kobe - Kobe Misaki Stadium (Noevir Stadium Kobe)
World famous for its delicious beef, Kobe is hosting several exciting Rugby World Cup™ matches in Kobe Misaki Stadium (also called Noevir Stadium Kobe). You'll find plenty of great restaurants and a lively shopping district in this modern port city.### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Kobe:
|Thurs 26 Sept||England vs USA||11.45 a.m.||Pool C|
|Mon 30 Sept||Scotland vs Samoa||11.15 a.m.||Pool A|
|Thurs 3 Oct||Ireland vs Russia||11.15 a.m.||Pool A|
|Thurs 8 Oct||South Africa vs Canada||11.15 a.m.||Pool B|
Kobe Misaki Stadium is just a 10-minute subway ride from the city centre, so you have plenty of hotel options in Kobe.### Things to do in Kobe:
- Taiko traditional drum lesson - Work up a sweat while learning the art and technique of playing traditional taiko drums.
- Mount Rokko - Take the vintage cable car to the summit for breathing views of Kobe, Osaka and the surrounding area. It's a romantic spot to watch the sunset.
- Tetsujin 28 Robot Statue - A 59-foot (18 m) robot that protects the citizens of Kobe. See it in Wakamatsu Park near the Shin-Nagata Station.
- Visit Kyoto: Just a short train ride from Kobe, its easy to spend a weekend in Kyoto, or longer, to check out all the historical and cultural sights of this ancient capital.
What to eat and drink in Kobe:
- Kobe beef - Valued for its tenderness, marbling and rich flavour, chances are you've heard of the internationally famous Kobe beef. It comes with a hefty price tag, but if you love steak, eating Kobe beef in Kobe is a must.
- Sake - Kobe's Nada district is a historical sake-brewing region in Japan and is known to produce some of the country's best sake.
- Chinese food - From Peking duck to steamed buns, you can find a variety of Chinese specialities in Kobe's Chinatown, a short walk from Motomachi train station.
Fukuoka - Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium
The bustling harbour city of Fukuoka, the largest city on the southern island of Kyushu, is hosting several Rugby World Cup™ games in Hakatanomori Stadium. You can easily fly into Fukuoka's airport or take the bullet train from other parts of Japan. Relaxing beaches, plentiful shopping and mouth-watering cuisine make Fukuoka a great place to enjoy the Rugby World Cup™.### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Fukuoka:
|Thurs 26 Sept||Italy vs Canada||8.45 a.m.||Pool B|
|Wed 2 Oct||France vs USA||8.45 a.m.||Pool C|
|Sun 12 Oct||Ireland vs Samoa||11.45 a.m.||Pool A|
The Hakatanomori Stadium is located in a park near the airport with the Level5 Stadium. If you want to stay closer to the heart of the city, check out hotels in Fukuoka near Tenjin Central Park. ### Things to do in Fukuoka:
- Hojoya festival - Food vendors and a carnival atmosphere surround this Buddhist festival at Hakozaki shrine from 12-18 September.
- Itoshima - This beach is famous for surfing and sunsets.
- Cycle around Shika Island - Just a short ferry ride from Fukuoka, you can rent bikes on Shika Island to cycle around the flat coastal roadway and enjoy the gorgeous water views.
- Yusentei Park - Check out the beautiful autumn colours at this Japanese-style garden.
What to eat and drink in Fukuoka:
- Hakata ramen - Slurp up thin noodles with rich pork bone broth simmered for 12 hours. Even if you've had ramen in other parts of Japan, Fukuoka's speciality is a must-try.
- Hakata Udon - In Fukuoka, thick udon noodles are cooked until soft and served in a lightly sweet broth.
- Mentaiko - Pollock roe marinated in salt and red chilli peppers. This salty and spicy dish is popular in Japanese bars.
Oita - Oita Stadium (Showa Denko Dome Oita)
Oita is hosting some exciting games during the Rugby World Cup™, including two quarter-final matches. When you're not cheering for a try at Oita's stadium, explore the gorgeous natural scenery of the area or party hard in a nightclub. Known as a hot springs resort area, don't miss out on a relaxing soak in the nearby town of Beppu.### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Oita:
|Wed 2 Oct||New Zealand vs Canada||11.15 a.m.||Pool B|
|Sun 5 Oct||Australia vs Uruguay||6.15 a.m.||Pool D|
|Wed 9 Oct||Wales vs Fiji||10.45 a.m.||Pool D|
|Sun 19 Oct||Pool C winner vs Pool D runner-up||8.15 a.m.||Quarter-finals|
|Sun 20 Oct||Pool D winner vs Pool C runner-up||8.15 a.m.||Quarter-finals|
Find hotels near Oita Stadium (also called the Showa Denko Dome Oita) to stay close to the action. If you're looking to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and some relaxing warm water, check out the nearby hot springs resort town of Beppu and opt for a traditional ryokan experience.### Things to do in Oita:
- Hot springs - Thanks to the area's geothermal activity, hot springs abound in Oita and nearby Beppu. While many hot springs typically ban tattoos, some onsen are relaxing their tattoo policies to accommodate Rugby World Cup™ fans.
- Takasakiyama Nature Zoo - More like a nature park than a zoo, animals roam the mountainside freely. Plan your visit for feeding time to see hundreds of wild monkeys up close.
- Oita Prefectural Art Museum - Grab a drink in the café and relax in the spacious atrium before wandering around to check out the various galleries.
What to eat and drink in Oita:
- Toriten (chicken tempura) and chicken karage - Two types of battered and deep-fried chicken - what's not to like?
- Sushi - Fish caught in the nearby Bungo Suido Channel are said to be meatier and more delicious than those caught elsewhere.
- Bungo beef - Similar to Kobe beef, Bungo beef is known for its marbling and melt-in-your-mouth flavour.
Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash
Kumamoto - Kumamoto Stadium (Egao Kenko Stadium)
Built around Kumamoto Castle in 1607, vibrant and relaxed Kumamoto City is hosting two Rugby World Cup™ matches at Kumamoto Stadium (also called Egao Kenko Stadium). Explore the area's scenic mountains and islands or learn about Kumamoto City's warrior roots at the magnificent castle. You're sure to see the region's adorable mascot Kumamon, a smiling black bear with red cheeks, all around town.### Rugby World Cup™ matches in Kumamoto:
|Sun 6 Oct||France vs Tonga||8.45 a.m.||Pool C|
|Sun 13 Oct||Wales vs Uruguay||9.15 a.m.||Pool D|
Kumamoto Stadium is near the airport, but you'll find a better selection of hotels in Kumomoto City itself. That also puts you in a better location for exploring the area.### Things to do in Kumamoto:
- Kumamoto Castle - One of Japan's most impressive castles. The castle suffered major damage from the 2016 earthquakes and is under repair, but the plaza in front of the main keep will be open during the Rugby World Cup™ from 5-14 October.
- Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Centre - Watch live traditional craft demonstrations, such as basket making, and meet local artists. Everything on display is for sale, making it a great place to buy souvenirs.
- Dolphin watching - Take a day trip to the beautiful Amakusa Islands and cruise around Shimabara Bay looking for wild dolphins.
- Visit Nagasaki - The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is well worth a trip, and be sure to check out the Nagasaki Kunchi festival at the Suwa Shrine. Eating festival food and watching dragon dances is a perfect way to fill time between Rugby World Cup™ matches as the celebration runs from 7-9 October.
What to eat and drink in Kumamoto:
- Shochu - An alcoholic beverage distilled from rice, barley or sweet potatoes. The island of Kyushu is the best place to try shochu, and Kumamoto is home to 28 shochu distilleries.
- Karashi Renkon - Lotus root stuffed with miso and spicy mustard. It goes great with sochu.
- Ikinari Dango - A dessert dumpling made of sweet potato topped with anko (sweet red bean paste) all wrapped in dough and steamed.