Held every four years, the Rugby World Cup will take place in Japan for the first time in 2019, one year before another quadrennial sporting event will be hosted in Japan, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. The Rugby World Cup will be held from September 20 to November 1, 2019 at twelve stadiums spread across the country from Hokkaido to Kyushu:
Capital of Hokkaido and Japan's fifth largest city, Sapporo is no stranger to hosting international sporting events. The Olympic Winter Games were held here in 1972, and Sapporo Dome, where some Rugby World Cup 2019 matches will be played, was also a venue in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The vibrant city offers a variety of delicious eats, entertainment and plenty of sightseeing attractions.
Kamaishi is home to one of the greatest rugby teams in Japanese history. The Shinnittetsu Kamaishi Rugby Club won the national championship seven years in a row from 1979-85, and its team members were known as the "Ironmen of the North". The newly completed stadium serves as a memorial of the 2011 tsunami that devastated Kamaishi and the Tohoku Region.
Located a 40 minute train ride north of Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture and affectionately known as Rugby Town Kumagaya, the city has a rugby history dating back to 1948. In just a few years, the local team emerged as national champions. Since then, Kumagaya has developed a strong rugby culture. Nearby sightseeing attractions range from traditional art at the Omiya Bonsai Village to modern technology at the Omiya Railway Museum and the outdoors in Chichibu.
The largest metropolis in the world needs no further introduction, and there is plenty to see and do in the city in between watching the rugby matches. Tokyo offers something for everyone from cultural and traditional attractions to exciting nightlife as well as an abundance of dining options.
Rugby's humble beginnings in Japan kicked off from Yokohama, one of the first port towns opened to foreign trade after the end of Japan's era of self-isolation. Foreign sailors introduced the sport into Japan, and Yokohama was the site of the first recorded rugby match in the country in 1866. Still today, many new and exciting trends can be found in Yokohama, and the local attractions reflect the city's international roots and role in the modernisation of Japan.
Shizuoka Prefecture is best known for its tea and as the site of the southern half of Mt. Fuji. Besides Mount Fuji, Shizuoka attracts many travelers from Tokyo to its beautiful Izu Peninsula. Located between the prefecture's two largest cities, Shizuoka and Hamamatsu, the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa is another former 2002 FIFA World Cup venue that will host some games for the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Located just outside of central Nagoya, Toyota City is where the headquarters of the car manufacturer of the same name are located. There are a number of Toyota related sightseeing attractions in the region. Other nearby attractions include the Korankei Valley which is very beautiful in the autumn, as well as the tourist spots of Nagoya.
Located east of central Osaka, the Hanazono Rugby Stadium is Japan's oldest rugby stadium. In addition to international events, the stadium hosts the annual national high school rugby competition in which teams from all 47 prefecture are represented. There is plenty to do around Hanazono thanks to its location between Osaka and Nara.
Kobe was one of the first port cities opened to foreign trade after the end of Japan's period of self-isolation. As such, it was also among the first entry points of rugby into the country. Today, Kobe is considered one of Japan's most attractive cities to live and offers a range of sightseeing attractions.
Oita Prefecture is located on the east coast of Kyushu and is well known for its abundant hot springs, including the ones in Beppu and Yufuin. Its rugby stadium is located in Oita City and previously also served as a venue during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Tickets for the general public are sold in two phases: In a first phase, applications for a ticket ballot system were accepted from September 19 through November 12, 2018. In a second phase, tickets went on sale on a first-come first-served basis on January 19, 2019 at 10am (Japan Time) on the official ticketing website.
How much are tickets and what view can I expect?
There are four ticket categories available for purchase, and prices range from 2,019 yen to 100,000 yen depending on match and seat. Note that the consumption tax is included in the ticket prices, and up to six tickets per match can be purchased by a single person. Seating plans and more detailed pricing can be found here and here respectively.
Where should I base myself or stay?
The matches are spread across the country over a period of about one and a half months. Depending on the tickets you have, it might be easier to base yourself in a nearby larger city where there would likely be more accommodation options and travel to the stadiums from there.
How do I get to the stadiums?
Below is a list of train stations closest to the stadiums. Access to some stadiums requires a bus ride while others can be reached on foot from the closest station:
Sapporo Dome: 10 minute walk from Fukuzumi Station on the Toho Subway Line
Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium: 5 minute walk from Unosumai Station along the Sanriku Railway
Kumagaya Rugby Ground: 15 minute bus ride from JR Kumagaya Station
Ajinomoto Stadium (Tokyo): 10 minute walk from Tobitakyu Station on the Keio Line
Nissan Stadium (Yokohama): 15 minute walk from JR Shin-Yokohama Station
Shizuoka Stadium ECOPA: 20-30 minute walk from JR Aino Station
Toyota Stadium: 20-30 minute walk from Toyota-shi Station on the Meitetsu Mikawa Line
Hanazono Rugby Stadium (Osaka): 15 minute walk from Higashi Hanazono Station on the Kintetsu Nara Line
Noevir Stadium Kobe: 10 minute walk from JR Wadamisaki Station or Misaki-koen Station on the Kaigan Subway Line
Level5 Stadium (Fukuoka): 8 minute bus ride from Fukuoka Airport
Oita Bank Dome: 40 minute bus ride from JR Oita Station
Egao Kenko Stadium (Kumamoto): 50 minute bus ride fro JR Kumamoto Station
Is there a transport pass that I can buy?
Depending on your match tickets, there are a variety of rail passes that may be of use. The main one useful for covering large distances is the Japan Rail Pass. Otherwise, consider getting the regional passes that will also be useful when sightseeing in the area. More details on train tickets and passes can be found here.