A tour around Japan’s capital three years out from the next Rugby World Cup


Having spent a week in Japan leading up to the national team’s second Test against Scotland, I know fans heading to the country for the 2019 World Cup are in for a treat. And I’m not talking about the rugby, though I’m sure that will be brilliant too.

There is simply so much to explore that supporters making the trip to Japan in three years’ time will be as entertained between matches as they are during those 80 minutes.

Take Tokyo. Japan is a country of contrasts and nowhere is that more evident than in the capital. Get off at Harajuku station and within a few minutes’ walk in all directions there are four very different but must-see sights.


Big city: This aerial view of Tokyo shows its vastness. Photo: Getty Images

First there’s the Meiji Jingu shrine. Encased in a forest, the entrance marked by a torii gate made of giant cedar trees, this is the perfect place for a peaceful stroll and moment of reflection away from the hubbub of the nearby streets.

Around the corner is Yoyogi Park – a great spot for people watching! At weekends it’s full of people picnicking or enjoying an afternoon walk as well as musicians and entertainers. Keep an eye out for the Rockabillys, replete with leather jackets and slicked-back quiffs, dancing around to 1950s classics.

Across the road is Tokyo’s luxury shopping street, Omotesando. Known as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees, even if you can’t afford a new wardrobe from Dior and Burberry, it’s worth a look to admire the varied buildings, many designed by award-winning architects.

Nearby Takeshita Street is at the opposite end of the shopping scale. Bright and brash, teenage girls are the target market, but the wares on offer are so eclectic – some might even say bizarre – that it has to be seen to be believed.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Rugby tour: The All Blacks visit Tsukiji Fish Market in 2009. Photo: Getty Images

Other highlights of the week included a visit to Tsukiji Fish Market, where you can sample fresh sushi, egg roll sticks and other Japanese delicacies, and a look around Asakusa. This part of Tokyo shows the city’s more historical side, away from the skyscrapers, and houses the impressive Senso-ji Temple.

This is just the tip of the Tokyo iceberg. Even after a week in the city, I felt I merely scratched the surface in terms of things to see and do.

And that’s only the capital. It’s just as well the World Cup spans six weeks and the rest of the country. We’re also giving you the lowdown on Kyoto, Japan’s cultural centre.

Rugby Word travelled with InsideJapan Tours and stayed at the Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku.

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