Twelve cities will be hosting the Rugby World Cup 2019 matches this year.
Take a look at the interesting facts about Japan’s host cities and learn about the history that makes them what they are today.
Sapporo is the largest city in the northernmost main island of Hokkaido, with a population of 1.9 million.
The city is a popular destination for Japanese and international travelers alike, who flock to the city for uniquely local cultural events such as the annual Sapporo Snow Festival with its gigantic ice sculptures, culinary delights ranging from ramen and Genghis Khan lamb barbecue to the fresh seafood from local waters, and the natural scenic beauty of Hokkaido and its wide plains, mountains and coastlines.
Sapporo has played host to such international sports events as the 1972 Winter Olympics and the 2002 FIFA World Cup, as well as being the home city to professional baseball and soccer teams. This history of hosting many major sports events is a strong platform for the Rugby World Cup 2019 to showcase the special appeal of rugby to an even broader audience in Japan and overseas at Japan’s northernmost all-weather stadium.
Kamaishi is an industrial city located on the Sanriku Coast of Iwate Prefecture, blessed with stunning natural surrounds and a vital fishing port. After the events of March 11, 2011, however, many associate Kamaishi with the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster. Although devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, the city has made great strides in its recovery and looks to host the Rugby World Cup 2019 as a way to acknowledge and thank all those in Japan and around the world for their support.
Iwate Prefecture is home to many traditional arts that have been passed down for generations. The Sansa Odori Dance in Morioka City’s taiko drum parade holds a title in the Guinness Book of World Records, while the famous tiger dances (Toramai) of Kamaishi are showcased in the annual Kamaishi Festival, held during the third week of October. As the 2019 Kamaishi Festival will take place during the same period as the Rugby World Cup, visitors to the city will have a chance to witness these colorful dances for themselves.
Adjoining Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture (along with Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures) is part of the Greater Tokyo Area, which represents the home of over a quarter of Japan’s entire population.
As such, easy access allows many of the area’s residents to work, study and play in Tokyo on a daily basis. And because of its convenient location near Tokyo, Saitama has many of its own natural, historical and cultural attractions that visitors from Tokyo and elsewhere come to enjoy. Kumagaya City is in northern Saitama, and enjoys a particularly rich rugby history. A longtime power in high school rugby, Kumagaya is even called Japanese rugby’s “hallowed ground of the East,” in recognition of its hosting the annual spring national high school rugby tournament, one of the two major national high school rugby tournaments in Japan.
Likely the Japanese city most known by non-Japanese, Tokyo thus may not need much introduction. However, the capital city continues to surprise, intrigue and amaze visitors from around the world as well as from Japan.
With nearly 10 percent of the population of Japan within its city limits, Tokyo still manages to flow and function in providing to visitors and residents alike a world-class level of historical attractions, entertainment and cultural activities, and dining and hospitality choices. All this, along with general safety, public services and transportation delivered on a scale befitting the world’s largest metropolitan region. Tokyo looks to exceed the expectations of the entire rugby world from the moment it hosts the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2019, to the Final match closing out the celebration.
Tokyo is a cornucopia of sightseeing delights: the old downtown area where the futuristic Tokyo Skytree ®coexists with an ancient temple; Harajuku, setting trends for youth culture; Shibuya and its famous pedestrian scramble crossing; Odaiba, the popular waterfront area; the Ogasawara Islands, a world heritage site; and many more.
Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Tokyo, is where history saw the transition of Japan from an isolated island nation to a member of the world community.
When it comes to Japan and the international community, Yokohama City can justifiably lay claim to the title of “Japan’s Portal to the World.” Although there were other restricted ports used by the early Dutch and Chinese traders (most notably Dejima in Nagasaki), it was the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy in Kanagawa and his negotiation of the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854 that truly expanded Japan’s exposure to the rest of the world. Today, that small and sleepy fishing hamlet where Perry laid anchor is now Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest city and the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture.
Visitors to Kanagawa will discover a wonderfully diverse range of scenic, historical and modern points of interest. Kanagawa ranks among the most popular destinations in Japan for natural attractions such as hot springs (Hakone, Yugawara), mountains (spectacular views of Mt. Fuji in addition to peaks within the prefecture) and beaches (Enoshima, one of Japan’s top surfing spots). Its close proximity to Tokyo has resulted in a sophisticated transportation infrastructure that seamlessly links the two for commuters and tourists alike; whether you are based in Yokohama or Tokyo, you are assured of convenient access to both.
Long known among Japanese as one of the most scenic areas in the country, Shizuoka combines access to the iconic beauty of Mt. Fuji and the exquisite hot springs resorts of the Izu Peninsula along the Pacific coast, and has historically been a popular holiday and tourism destination.
Shizuoka is also known for the many star athletes it has produced, in sports ranging from soccer, swimming, and baseball to, of course, rugby. In addition to its domestic Top League club YAMAHA Jubilo which won the 2014-15 All Japan Rugby Football Championship, the Shizuoka Rugby Club was formed in 1929 and is very much active, along with the four other rugby clubs of the prefecture. Furthermore, tag rugby schools for children are held throughout the prefecture and rugby is becoming popular in wider generations.
Located approximately halfway between Tokyo and Osaka, Aichi Prefecture is a particularly interesting combination of the traditional (many aspects of Japan’s Samurai history) and the modern (the cornerstone of Japan’s leading technologies in industries such as automobiles and aerospace).
The prefectural capital Nagoya is Japan’s fourth largest city. History buffs will find much to explore in the prefecture where all three major feudal lords who eventually unified Japan (Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu) were born. Aichi Prefecture is also the birthplace of Toyota Motor, one of Japan’s best-known global brands.
Before Toyota City was renamed in 1959 in recognition of its leading corporate citizen, it was known as Koromo and it was best known for silk production until the 1930’s. In addition to the automobile company, however, Toyota is very well recognised in rugby for the accomplishments of the club team affiliated with the automaker. The winner of a number of national championships and one of the most popular teams in the domestic Top League, the club enjoys a strong home fan base eager to see the best of world-class rugby.
Feisty and Proud in its Individuality. Osaka Prefecture is Japan’s third most populous prefecture, behind Tokyo and Kanagawa, despite it being one of the smallest in actual area. The capital is Osaka City, and Osaka Prefecture is the core of the Kansai region, widely considered to be the cultural and historical “heart” of Japan.
The many historical landmarks here include Osaka Castle, Shitennoji Temple (the first and oldest Buddhist temple in Japan), and the Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine (prominently featured in the world’s firstnovel The Tale of Genji).
Osaka also has had a significant historical role in being the doorway to the Asia continent; it was known as the gate to the ancient Silk Road for Japan. Osaka is also well-known as an industrial and commercial center, headquarters for leading Japanese companies in such categories as pharmaceuticals, trade, electronics, foods and construction.
Kobe City is Japan’s sixth-largest city and the capital of Hyogo Prefecture. Along with Kyoto and Osaka, the city is a core pillar of the Kansai region of Japan; in comparison, the Kanto region to the east is prominently represented by Tokyo and Kanagawa.
Kobe’s waterfront vistas are truly spectacular. The Arima Hot Springs, which are the oldest hot springs in Japan, enjoy a high reputation. Near Kobe Misaki Park Stadium are the giant Hyogo Buddha statue, and the Testujin 28-go (Gigantor) monument which symbolizes Kobe’s recovery from the effects of the 1995 earthquake, and the revitalization of the local economy that has taken place since then.
Kobe is famous throughout the world for its superb Kobe Beef, but Kobe is also renowned for high-quality seafood and many other delicious local specialties. The Nadagogo district is home to numerous sake breweries that continue to produce great-tasting sake, making this Japan’s leading sake-producing region.
Situated in the north of the island of Kyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture occupies a key position as a link to Honshu, Japan’s main island. The prefecture represents the industrial hub of Kyushu, with nearly 40% of the island’s economy flowing from Fukuoka.
The prefectural capital, Fukuoka City, is the largest metropolitan area in Kyushu and is Japan’s fifth-largest city. It is an international city renowned for its 2,000-year history of exchange with China and Korea. The city is modern and compact, while still enjoying scenery from the nearby mountains and sea. Fukuoka’s rich food culture is also not to be missed, with Hakata tonkotsu ramen noodles and its fresh seafood as just some of the many delicious choices. The vivid local culinary scene is highlighted by the outdoor stands or yatai that serve some of the city’s best food in an al fresco setting.
Kumamoto Prefecture lies in the heart of Kyushu, on the southern borders of Fukuoka and Oita prefectures.
The earliest human activity can be traced back to approximately 1,000 BC, and the area became known as Higo Province around the 7th century. The abolition of the feudal system at the Meiji Restoration of 1868 led to the creation of prefectures, with Higo Province renamed Kumamoto Prefecture.
Among the many interesting roles that Kumamoto Prefecture played over history include being a main center for Christianity’s growth in Japan. For samurai buffs, it was in Kumamoto that the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi completed his opus on martial strategy and philosophy, The Book of Five Rings. Kumamoto Castle, in Kumamoto City, dates back to 1467 and is known as one of the top three castles in Japan.
Oita Prefecture is one of the three host locations in the southern main island of Kyushu, joining Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture and Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Oita is on the northeastern side of the island, bordering Ehime Prefecture and Yamaguchi Prefecture across the Inland Sea.
The prefecture is a nature lover’s paradise, with over 70 percent of it being forest or volcanic terrain. It is also known for being one of the first places where Buddhism took root in Japan over 1,300 years ago, with Buddha statues dating from that time sculpted into stone cliffs and rock faces throughout the prefecture. The best-known site for these statues is Usuki, which has 60 carvings from the 12th century and is considered the largest collection of ancient Buddhist stone figures in Japan.
Take the opportunity to experience Japan and its rich culture during this years Rugby World Cup, view our ticket-inclusive packages for more information – http://www.sarugbytravel.com/rugby-world-cup-2019-travel-packages/