Rugby fever has hit Japan. Here are your 12 match venues, complete with what to do in-between the action.
1. Sapporo Dome, Sapporo City
Japan’s fifth-largest city is home to the Sapporo Beer Museum and Brewery: Japan’s oldest homebrew. Pop next door to Lilac Restaurant too, for all-you-can-eat lamb. You have 60-minutes to chow down.
2. Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Fukuroi City
Temples, temples, everywhere. But green tea also sprouts up in abundance here, so if you need refreshment (or a break from the Asahi) find a tea house and order a pot.
3. City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota City
It makes sense to visit the Toyota Automobile Museum when you’re in the namesake city. Motor heads will marvel at the awesome collection of vintage cars. They’re not solely Toyota either.
4. Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Kamaishi City
This tsunami-hit fishing town lost over 1000 lives in 2011, but its Sanriku Fukko National Park remains a true beauty. With dramatic cliffs and wild beaches, retreat here for some peace and quiet.
5. Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo City
Essentials include the neonbathed streets of Shinjuku, tiny drinking dens in Golden Gai and guided night canoeing on the Kyu-Naka River. Tokyo’s enchanting old-school alleyways (or yokocho) are found all over.
6. Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka City
Yatai is a dining experience unique to Fukuoka. Once all over Japan, these tiny street food carts, crammed with a maximum of seven diners are constructed (and deconstructed) nightly.
7. Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashiōsaka City
Dotonbori is the best district for street food, shopping, and bars. This city is also one of the few places where bunraku (traditional Japanese puppetry shows) can still be found.
8. Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe City
Kobe is a blessed city. Not solely for its prized Kobe Beef, but also its Nada district which is Japan’s most famous sake producing region.
9. International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama City
Just a 20-minute train ride from central Tokyo, if you don’t fancy Yokohama’s museum dedicated to instant cup noodles, explore Landmark Tower (Japan’s second tallest building) and the Motomachi shopping street.
10. Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto City
Home to Kumamoto Castle — but to you and I it looks like a grand Japanese temple — this fortified safehold was quake damaged. However, repairs are underway and the grounds are well worth exploring.
11. Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya City
Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple is a national treasure and an impressive structure bursting with colour. Try the no-frills snacks sold outside, such as Shoden Inari Sushi. Packed with rice, vegetables and tofu.
12. Oita Stadium, Ōita City
Skip Ōita and escape to the nearby spa city of Beppu. Known for its onsen bathing and natural hot springs pluming mist across the city. Luxuriate in the pick n’ mix of bath styles: sand, mud and steam.