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A Rugby Fan’s Guide to Japan During the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Japan is establishing itself as a great travel destination for sports fans, as not only does the country prepare for the 2020 Olympics, but this year sees it become the first Asian nation to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup. So what better time to gather your fellow sports buff pals and head to the Land of The Rising Sun?

The Japan Rugby World Cup lasts six weeks, and will be hosted in cities across Japan including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Sapporo. This means that you’ll easily be able to plan a great trip itinerary covering major cities in Japan whilst catching games at the same time. The six week long tournament starts on September 20, with the final being held in early November in Yokohama Stadium.

The History of Rugby in Japan

The History of Rugby in Japan

Japan isn’t the first country you’d associate with Rugby, however contrary to popular belief the sport does have a long history in Japan. The Japan Times mentions the earliest known recording of the sport in Japan - news of a meeting occurring on January 26, 1866 for the founding of the Yokohama Football Club. The first known artistic depiction of the sport being played in Japan can be dated back to 1874.

Some speculate that the country’s cold climate, coupled with the presence of over 1,000 British soldiers from the 20th Regiment’s 2nd Battalion in two camps in Yokohama in 1864 led to the adoption of the sport in Japan, and consequently the foundation of the first club in the city. Rugby remains a moderately popular sport in Japan today, with the National Rugby Union team known as “The Brave Blossoms”.

Travelling to Games in Japan

Travelling through Japan as a visitor is made easy with numerous travel options to choose from, ranging from budget buses through to more expensive internal flights. The best way to navigate your way in between host cities in Japan during the games can be done through purchasing a Japan Rail Pass for the duration of the event, which offers unlimited bullet train passes for Rugby fans for the entirety of the cup.

Other transport options include air travel, with the national carrier being JAL, and bus travel. For more detailed information on transport options in Japan, check out our Japan Travel Guide.

Travelling to Games in Japan

Japan City Guide for Australia Rugby Fans

Planning on heading to Japan this Rugby World Cup to support Australia? Australian fixtures will be held in cities across the country (provided the team make it to the finals). So, your Japan trip will see you cover extensive ground stretching from Hokkaido, to Tokyo, and Kyushu.

This gives ample opportunities to check out some of Japan’s most beautiful regions, and combine culture, art, history and food into your Rugby World Cup holiday.

  • Game One for Australia kicks off in Sapporo, located on the Northern island of Hokkaido. Known for skiing, Sapporo beer and the famous Sapporo ramen, there’s also plenty of nature-filled day-trips on offer.

  • Game Two sees Australia play Wales in the country’s capital, Tokyo. This neon-filled metropolis has plenty to see and do, from the famed seafood market, to Harajuku, and bars and clubs in the Roppongi district.

  • The next major port of call for Australia fans will be the town of Ōita, located on Kyushu island. Famous for its onsens (traditional japanese hot springs), spend your time relaxing and taking in the natural sites of this less-travelled region of Japan.

  • The final destination for Aussie fans is the Shizuoka prefecture, located on Honshu’s Pacific coast in between Tokyo and Kyoto. Home to Mount Fuji, other experiences include tea picking, and hot springs with sea views. You may even decide to travel to Kyoto for a few nights.

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