This year the Rugby World Cup comes to Japan.
With matches taking place in no less than 12 cities across 3 of Japan's islands it's a great way of exploring Japan. If you're thinking of planning a trip to follow your team in Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, you're not alone.
The Japanese government expects the event to attract some 400,000 foreign tourists to Japan this year.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup
The tournament comes to Japan for the first time ever during the autumn.
Rugby fans from all over the globe will convene in the land of the rising sun for the 44-day event.
Games are being played up and down the country, with the first match kicking off on 20th September.
The great thing about it from The Real Japan's perspective is that many lesser-known cities will play host to games - not just the famous capital.
Indeed, games are being played on three different islands: Hokkaido, Honshu and Kyushu.
Speaking in Tokyo, tournament Director Alan Gilpin said:
“From match venues, team camps and host cities readiness, to the ticketing and volunteering programmes and tournament budget, strong progress has been made...
This has been achieved by a strong partnership between World Rugby, the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee, the Japan Rugby Football Union, host cities and national government."
“We are particularly encouraged with the strong demand for the ticketing pre-sales phases with more than two million tickets applied for to date. The challenge for all events is to convert demand into sales, but this is a superb position to be in with a little over a year to go.”
The 3 host islands
The largest, and most diverse, of Japan's 6,800 islands. It's where you'll find most of the well-known cities including Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima and Kobe.
The largest of Japan's southern islands, and it's one of my favourite parts of Japan. It's closer to South Korea than it is Tokyo. It's mountainous (even by Japan's already very mountainous standards!), and it's here that the climate becomes subtropical.
Countdown in Kobe
The 12 host cities
The 2019 Rugby World Cup is bringing The Real Japan to hundreds of thousands of visitors, many probably for the first time.
It's a fine example of how sport can help expand the perception of a country and, more importantly, encourage fans to explore it beyond the capital city, beyond the cliches.
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One of the major considerations with travelling in Japan is the inscrutable Japanese language.
A seemingly incomprehensible, often kaleidoscopic, barrage of cryptic symbols awaits the foreign traveller who doesn’t speak or read the language.
I’ve been exploring Japan since 2000 and I’ve picked up plenty of tips along the way.
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Asia's first Rugby World Cup
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said "With Rugby World Cup as the centrepiece, 2019 is the perfect stage to showcase to the world an attractive, thriving sport that continues to grow in every region and attract new participants and fans.
Rugby is all about teamwork and, working in partnership with our regions and unions, 2018 brought yet more important advances that will enable us to convert the excitement and interest in Asia’s first Rugby World Cup – a game-changing event – into sustainable growth for the sport.
We are well on our way"
Beaumont went on to say:
"There has been strong progress in Asia, where more than one million new participants have been attracted to the sport via our Impact Beyond 2019 legacy programme.
We are now working hard with Asia Rugby and our unions to ensure that this phenomenal achievement is sustainable and that the structures are in place to support and further grow the game in the world’s most populous and youthful region.
With Asia to the fore, we have seen record participation with more than 9.2 million players worldwide, as rugby ignites new passions in new countries and communities, as well as continued growth in existing traditional rugby nations."
Countdown in Osaka
Venues of the 2019 Rugby World Cup
All links below to the official Visit Japan 2019 website open in a new window.
Video: Higashi-Osaka, Japan's holy ground of rugby
Getting around Japan
The cost of internal flights in Japan continues to come down as the low cost carrier airlines become more established.
However, the Rugby World Cup is the perfect chance for making the most of Japan's world-famous bullet trains (shinkansen).
The Rugby World Cup is the perfect chance for making the most of Japan's world-famous bullet trains
All three host islands - Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu - are all connected to each other via Japan's extensive rail network. Undersea tunnels connecting the main island Honshu with Hokkaido in the north and Kyushu in the south.
Japan's incredible shinkansen bullet trains
This is where Japan's excellent value Japan Rail Pass comes into play. The pass offers fans unlimited access to the shinkansen network, connecting all the major cities including the capital Tokyo. Trains reach speeds of up to 320km/h (199mph).
The JR Pass also provides access to other Japan Rail national trains, buses, ferries, and airport transfers.
Note: buy the Japan Rail Pass in advance to get the cheapest prices.
Visiting Japan with tattoos
In Japan, tattoos have a long history.
The samurai were often covered from head to toe in them. In more contemporary history they have become synonomous with Japan's organised crime gangs - the yakuza.
However, attitudes to tattoos in Japan are changing.
With the advent of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, even the government is getting involved.
Of course, many rugby fans, to say nothing of the players themselves, have tattoos. As do many of the increasing numbers of foreign tourists coming to Japan each year.
And many of those will want (and should!) to try bathing in an onsen - Japan's natural hot springs.
Traditionally, onsen have had a ban on tattoos, largely on account of their association with the yakuza. But growing foreign tourism, alongside the more progressive attitudes, particularly of younger Japanese towards tattoos, means it is possible to sample the delights of onsen, even if you have tattoos.
But you'll need to do some homework first so that you're not refused entry. Read this article for more tips on using onsen if you have tattoos.
READ MORE: Onsen Tips For Those With Tattoos
48 games held at 12 stadiums
A total of 48 games will be held between September 20th and November 2nd, at 12 stadiums across the country.
The opening match takes place at Ajinomoto Stadium, in Tokyo, with the final match being held at International Stadium Yokohama in Kanagawa.
Download the Match Schedule HERE (instant PDF download)
Book your accommodation
Ranked based on customer reviews, below is a list of the best hotels and accommodation to stay at for the Rugby World Cup, covering every one of the 12 host cities.
You'll need to book your accommodation in advance to be sure you get the best deal and the best located accommodation options. Some hotels close to stadiums are already selling out rooms on dates around the games.
Countdown to kick-off!
The List of Best Hotels to stay in
Visitors to Fukuoka love: Hakata ramen, Japanese cuisine, Ōhori Park
Visitors to Kamaishi love: autumn/fall leaves
Visitors to Kobe love: food, sightseeing, harbours
Visitors to Kumagaya love: ambience, business, city trips
Visitors to Kumamoto love: castles, food, sightseeing
Visitors to Oita love: hot springs, food, sightseeing
Visitors to Osaka love: Osaka castle, Shinsekai, Minoo Park
Visitors to Sapporo love: Snow Festival , soup curry, Odori Park
Visitors to Shizukoa love: food, sightseeing, nature
Visitors love: Shinjuku district, Ryogoku Kokugikan (sumo stadium), Imperial Palace
Visitors to Toyota love: business, budget-friendly travelling, tranquility
Visitors to Yokohama love: harbours, sightseeing, city walks
Find your best hotel
Tickets are back on sale!
Tickets for all RWC2019 games are now on official re-sale. First-come, first-served (expect to queue when booking!).
Buy tickets HERE (good luck!)
This service is for those who, under unavoidable circumstances, will not be able to use the originally purchased tickets to resell them through official channels.
The original application period for tickets to the games was between Wednesday, 19 September 2018 and Monday, 12 November 2018.
Due to demand outstripping supply, tickets were allocated on a ballot system. The ballot result notification was announced on Monday, 26 November 2018.
If you were successful in getting tickets in the original sale round, the payment period was between Monday, 26 November 2018 and Wednesday, 5 December 2018.
Note: tickets that are not purchased via an official RWC 2019 website will be refused entry to the match.
This is the first time the tournament is held in Asia. It's also the first time consecutive tournaments have been staged in the same hemisphere, and also the first time that the event takes place outside the international rugby union team countries.
Best SIM cards for Japan
With more than 400,000 visitors predicted to come to Japan, SIM cards are expected to sell out completely for the Rugby World Cup. Order your SIM now with free delivery or free pick-up in Japan.
Visiting Japan for the RWC?
Need data to get rugby scores, find the stadium, find your mates in the crowd?
Like FREE beer?
...Introducing the best SIM cards For Japan with Exclusive RWC 2019 Supporter Bundles.
Who else gives you a free beer with your Japan SIM card?!
The Real Japan has joined forces with Mobal - a leading supplier of SIM cards in Japan - to offer you the perfect SIM for rugby fans.
With a Japan SIM in your phone you can easily find nearest big-screen to watch the match. keep up with the scores, find the best transport links, translate phrases and menus - and update your social media account with your awesome photos of Japan!
Buy your SIM today and get Mobal's FREE RWC Supporters’ Bundle with FREE Beer, FREE fan headband and FREE Rugby World Cup Fan Guide.
Plus, get free access to 400,000 WiFi hotspots around Japan to supplement your data usage - and save lots with discount vouchers for shopping and travel perks. Order now to get all of these benefits.
- FREE Worldwide Shipping & Pickup in Japan
- Discount shopping and travel vouchers included with all orders
- Money Back Guarantee
- Profits go to Charity
- English Language Support
If you're a rugby fan and you've never visited Japan before - this will be the best chance you'll ever get to explore the land of the rising sun.
Question: If you're thinking of going to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, what's the main question you have about travelling in Japan? Leave a comment below...
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Discover Japan - Official 2019 RWC Host Country:
Official Site of Rugby World Cup:
Official Rugby World Cup Ticketing site:
Japan Accommodation at Booking.com:
Get our SIM card deal:
Buy your Mobal SIM today
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How To Travel in Japan Without Speaking Japanese
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