Held every four years, the Rugby World Cup will take place in Japan for the first time in 2019. Twenty teams will be playing 48 matches 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.
Sapporo Dome: 10 minute walk from Fukuzumi Station on the Toho Subway Line
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.
Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium: 5 minute walk from Unosumai Station along the Sanriku Railway or 25 minute shuttle bus ride from Kamaishi Station
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.
Kumagaya Rugby Ground: 15 minute shuttle bus ride from the Fanzone which is a 8 minute walk from JR Kumagaya Station
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.
Ajinomoto Stadium: 10 minute walk from Tobitakyu Station along the Keio Railway
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.
Nissan Stadium: 15 minute walk from JR Shin-Yokohama Station
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.
Shizuoka Stadium ECOPA: 15 minute walk from JR Aino Station
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.
Toyota Stadium: 15 minute walk from Toyota-shi Station on the Meitetsu Mikawa Line
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.
Hanazono Rugby Stadium: 10 minute walk from Higashi-Hanazono Station on the Kintetsu Nara Line
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.
Noevir Stadium Kobe: 5 minute walk from JR Wadamisaki Station or Misaki-koen Station on the Kaigan Subway Line
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.
Oita Bank Dome: 25 minute shuttle bus ride from the Fanzone next to Oita Station or 50 minute shuttle bus ride from Beppu Station
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. 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.
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.
Is there going to be public screening of the matches?
Yes, each host city has one or two Fanzones where matches are shown on large screens to the public on selected days. Admission is free. Besides live screening, the Fanzones also offer food and drinks, rugby-related activities and other entertainment.
Can the matches be watched on television?
NHK and Nippon TV will be broadcasting live more than half of the matches on their channels which are available for free at most hotels across Japan. NHK will broadcast some of the games on its General channel and some on its BS1 satellite channel. Note that Nippon TV is known under various different names outside of the Greater Tokyo region, such as Yomiuri TV in the Kansai Region around Osaka. Furthermore, all games will be broadcast live by J Sports, a set of pay-TV channels that require monthly subscriptions and are not usually available in hotel rooms.