Discover what to see and do in Japan at Rugby World Cup 2019


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The World Cup to the Max. In Tokyo — and Beyond

William Webb Ellis could scarcely have known that his “fine disregard for the rules of football” would take hold in Japan. Less still could he have imagined that the world’s best would vie there for the trophy that bears his name.

Rugby fans will discover that their sport has indeed gained a passionate following in the Land of the Rising Sun and that Japan provides a setting of stimulating allure for Rugby World Cup 2019. Those fortunate enough to witness the action in person will get to enjoy the unsuspected charms of the host nation, as well as the excitement on the field.

The World Cup to the Max. In Tokyo — and Beyond

The players and spectators at the finals matches will bene fit from cutting-edge lighting and turf management at Tokyo Stadium (photo) and at International Stadium Yokohama

Tokyo is both portal and destination for Rugby World Cup 2019. The city’s air hubs, Haneda and Narita, are the natural choices for itineraries that include any combination of the 12 match venues. As destination, the Japanese capital and its neighbour, Yokohama, will host five pool-phase matches that feature teams from the British Isles. They will also host the semi-finals, the bronze final and the final.

The World Cup to the Max. In Tokyo — and Beyond

Try your hand at making Edo kiriko cut glass while in Tokyo

Beckoning sojourners is Tokyo’s eclectic dynamic of “Old meets New”. Bed and board are a joyful mix of the latest amenities and traditional hospitality. A surge of hotel construction has expanded the range of accommodation for any budget.

Diners will enjoy such diverse options as authentic British pubs, Japanese and Western eateries atop department stores, and even leisurely meals on pleasure boats. Next-door Yokohama offers such culinary attractions as Chinatown’s restaurants and the birthplace of sukiyaki.

The World Cup to the Max. In Tokyo — and Beyond

Food offerings at a British pub in Tokyo’s Roppongi nightlife district

Participatory craftwork is a source of memories of any travel haven, and Tokyo affords travellers a wealth of opportunities to indulge their hands-on inclinations. For example, some of the studios that produce Edo (Tokyo’s former name) kiriko (cut glass) in Tokyo’s Asakusa district and elsewhere in the city hold make-your-own workshops.

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Convenient train connections mean that taking in matches away from Tokyo and exploring “the rest of Japan” is easy. Furthest off the beaten path yet readily accessible is the newest and airiest of the 12 venues, Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium.

The World Cup to the Max. In Tokyo — and Beyond

Jiro Ishiyama, a standout forward on the championship Kamaishi teams of the 1970s and 1980s, spearheaded the creation of the city’s stadium (shown under construction)

The Kamaishi stadium has risen on the site of a primary school and middle school washed away by the tsunami that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Kamaishi, in Iwate Prefecture, has a proud rugby tradition, and a semi-professional corporate team sponsored by the city’s namesake steel-maker dominated Japanese rugby from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s.

The World Cup to the Max. In Tokyo — and Beyond

Bask in the hot-spring spas that dot the Japanese countryside, as at Miyagi Prefecture’s Akiu Onsen

The World Cup to the Max. In Tokyo — and Beyond

Kokeshi doll workshops, such as this one in Miyagi, let you exercise your painterly instincts

Japan’s north abounds in natural scenery that warrants attention in planning itineraries. Also worthy of attention are the region’s hands-on craft studios. Especially fun are the workshops where visitors can paint their own kokeshi dolls — simple cylindrical figurines that are traditional souvenirs of the region.

So come enjoy the action on the field at Rugby World Cup 2019. And delve into the countless attractions in store for the attentive traveller — in Tokyo and beyond.