Rugby World Cup 2019™ will be held in Japan for the first time
The next Rugby World Cup will kick off in Japan on September 20 and run until November 2. Previous hosts include the tier one nations of New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and the UK.
It is significant for Japan to be hosting the event for several reasons. The tournament is the first of its kind in Asia, the first to be staged outside the traditional heartland of the sport. It is also and first time back-to-back tournaments will be held in the same hemisphere. Interest in tickets has been unprecedented; Rugby World Cup 2019 received 4.5 million applications for lottery sales.
Twenty participating teams will face off for the cup. Forty-eight matches are scheduled to take place across the 12 venues, drawing more than 400,000 international fans to Japan. RWC 2019 will be an experience rugby die-hards won't want to miss.
Rugby in Japan
The hotly anticipated event has seen an astounding international and domestic response. Akira Shimazu, CEO of RWC 2019 Organizing Committee, said there is "tremendous demand” for tickets to Japan matches, tier one matches—including Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and England—and knockout phases.
Japan's National Rugby team is ranked 11th in the world, and the nation has the fourth highest number of rugby union players in the world. There are about 100,000 Japanese rugby players and about 3,000 official rugby clubs.
Tokyo Stadium will host the Japan v Russia, France v Argentina, Australia v Wales, England v Argentina and New Zealand v Namibia matches in the pool phase. The venue will also host the quarter-final:2, quarter-final:4, and bronze final. With a capacity of 50,000 people, the atmosphere for matches held here is sure to be electric.
The massive, multi-purpose venue in Chofu, Tokyo hosts big-name concerts and popular sporting events. Nearby attractions include Tokyo's second oldest temple, Jindaiji, built in 733, and Jindai Botanical Garden, a beautiful 105-acre garden. Other top attractions in Tokyo include Sensoji, Tokyo Skytree , Harajuku, Ueno Park, Tokyo Imperial Palace , and Meiji-jingu shrine, to name a few.
From Shinjuku Station, take the Express Keio line to Chofu Station (15 minutes). Transfer to the regular Keio Line for two stops to Tobitakyu (three minutes), the nearest station.
International Stadium Yokohama
International Stadium Yokohama is a huge stadium with a seating capacity of over 72,000. It was the venue of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final and will host some key matches in Rugby World Cup 2019, too. Fans can catch the New Zealand v South Africa, Ireland v Scotland, England v France and Japan v Scotland matches. It will also host the semi-final:1, semi-final:2 and the final.
Nearby attractions you won't want to miss include the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, the Minatomirai Nightscape, and the famous Yokohama Chinatown .
From Yokohama Station, you can either ride the subway Blue Line to Shin-Yokohama Station (11 Minutes), or the JR Yokohama Line to Kozukue Station (15 minutes).
The city of Sapporo is in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. With a capacity of over 41,000 people, Sapporo Dome is a popular venue for concerts, festivals and major sporting events. Sapporo Dome will host Australia v Fiji and England v Tonga matches.
Nearby attractions include the Sapporo Clock Tower and Nakajima Park. Hokkaido is also the birthplace of Japanese beer, so be sure to visit the Sapporo Beer Museum —an all-ages attraction with beer tastings available for those over 20 years old.
From Sapporo Station, take the Toho Line to Fukuzumi Station (15 minutes), the nearest station to the venue.
Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium
Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium will host Fiji v Uruguay and Namibia v Canada matches. The stadium is in Iwate, one of the northern prefectures that was ravaged by the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The stadium was built as part of the area's recovery project.
The 16,000-capacity venue was completed in August 2018. The stadium is surrounded by a breathtaking natural landscape of mountains, rivers and sea. It's close to the Daikannon Temple, which has panoramic views over Kamaishi Bay. There's also an old blast furnace in Kamaishi that's part of a newly listed UNESCO World Heritage site, the Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site, a relic of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution.
From Tokyo, you can catch the shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Morioka Station (about two hours) or to Shin-Hanamaki Station (three hours). Transfer to one of the many JR lines bound for Kamaishi Station (two hours). Alternatively, fly from one of Japan's major cities to Iwate Hanamaki Airport.
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium was renovated especially for Rugby World Cup 2019. This 24,000-capacity stadium is an hour by train from Tokyo, making access convenient. The city of Kumagaya also offers numerous nearby attractions of its own, including the Hanayu Spa Resort and Teppachi Hakkai, a local rugby bar.
Kumagaya Stadium will host Russia v Samoa, Georgia v Uruguay and Argentina v USA matches. The nearest station is Kumagaya. From Tokyo Station, take the JR Takasaki Line to Kumagaya Station (one hour), and hop on the bus for 10 minutes. If you've got a JR Pass or are willing to pay the extra yen, you can ride the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kumagaya (38 minutes) instead.
Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa
Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa was built for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. This 665-acre facility is dedicated to health, sports and nature and is located between Fukuroi and Kakegawa City in Shizuoka Prefecture. The stadium holds over 50,000 spectators and is surrounded by beautiful, dense forests.
Nearby attractions include the historic Hattasan Soneiji Temple, dating back to 725, and Kakegawa Castle, which was first built in 1513. Kakegawa Kachoen, Shizuoka's flower and bird park is another popular attraction nearby.
The venue hosts Japan v Ireland, South Africa v Italy, Scotland v Russia and Australia v Georgia matches. From Nagoya Station, take the shinkansen bound for Kakegawa Station (about one hour). Transfer to the JR Tokaido Line to Aino (four minutes). From Tokyo, take the shinkansen to Kakegawa (one hour and 45 minutes). From Osaka, board the shinkansen at Shin-Osaka Station for Kakegawa Station (about two hours) then, from Kakegawa Station, transfer to the JR Tokaido Line to Aino Station (four minutes).
City of Toyota Stadium
City of Toyota Stadium is in Toyota in Aichi Prefecture, is a 45,000-capacity venue with a retractable roof that folds like an accordion, giving it a theater-like feel.
The stadium will host Wales v Georgia, South Africa v Namibia, Japan v Samoa, and New Zealand v Italy. From Nagoya, hop on the Tsurumai Line at Fushimi Station for Toyotashi Station (45 minutes). If you'd rather stay in Osaka, take the shinkansen from Shin-Osaka for Nagoya Station (50 minutes). Transfer to the JR Chuo line for Tsuramai Station (seven minutes), then board the Tsurumai Line for Toyotashi (40 minutes).
Hanazono Rugby Stadium
This stadium in Osaka was built in 1929 and can hold 24,000 people. It is Japan's oldest stadium dedicated to Rugby Union. Hanazono hosts Japan's National High School Rugby Tournament each year, where teams from all 47 prefectures participate. For Rugby World Cup 2019, it will host Italy v Namibia, Argentina v Tonga, Georgia v Fiji and USA v Tonga matches.
The nearest station is Higashi-Hanazono. From Osaka Station, hop on the JR Osaka Loop Line to Tsuruhashi Station (about 15 minutes). Transfer to the Kintetsu-Nara Line for Higashi-Hanazono Station (about 20 minutes).
Kobe Misaki Stadium
Kobe Misaki Stadium holds over 30,000 spectators and is home to Kobe's professional soccer and rugby teams. During Rugby World Cup 2019, it will host England v USA, Scotland v Samoa, Ireland v Russia and South Africa v Canada matches.
While you're in the city, check out Kobe Harborland , a waterfront area with plenty of shopping and dining options. It's near the Kobe Maritime Museum (in the center of Meriken Park) and Kobe Port Tower, a 108-meter tall tower with three observation decks.
From Osaka Station, take the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Kobe Station (about 25 minutes). Transfer to the Kaigan Line (six minutes) to Misaki-Koen Station, nearest to the stadium.
Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium
Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium is only a 10-minute bus ride from Fukuoka International Airport. Surrounded by beautiful forests, the 20,000 person venue is in a picturesque location.
When you visit the area, pay a visit to Kushida-jinja Shrine. The beautiful shrine was founded in 757. Nature lovers should take a stroll through Ohori Park , and while you're there, visit the nearby Fukuoka Castle . For shopping opportunities, visit the nearby Canal City Hakata Mall nearby.
The Italy v Canada, France v USA, and Ireland v Samoa matches will be held here.
Kumamoto Stadium in Kumamoto , on the southern island of Kyushu, is a multi-purpose stadium that can hold up to 30,000 spectators. It's mainly used for football matches and Top League rugby matches.
While in the area, make sure to visit historic Kumamoto Castle, one of Japan's most impressive castles (though some sections are under renovation after suffering significant damage in a 2016 earthquake.) Suizenji Garden is a beautiful space to explore. It is a traditional Japanese landscape garden with Izumi-jinja Shrine on the north side.
The France v Tonga and Wales v Uruguay matches will be held here. From Hakata Station in Fukuoka, take the shinkansen to Kumamoto Station (about 40 minutes). From there, take a bus bound for the stadium (50 minutes).
Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa designed Oita Stadium for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The 40,000-capacity stadium has the largest retractable roof in Japan, which earned it the nickname “The Big Eye” thanks to its resemblance to a winking eye.
Nearby attractions include MT Takasaki Monkey Park, where 15,000 wild Japanese macaques roam freely, and the City Spa Tenku, featuring a rooftop pool with a breathtaking view.
Matches scheduled here in the pool phase are New Zealand v Canada, Australia v Uruguay, and Wales v Fiji. In the knock out stage, Oita will also host the quarter-final:1 and quarter-final:2 matches.
From Fukuoka, board the JR Sonic-Nichirin at Hakata Station for Oita Station (about two hours), with shuttle buses available to the stadium.
Traveling between venues
With venues scattered across the country, getting a Japan Rail (JR) Pass will help you save some yen and allow you to travel quickly and conveniently. The pass lets you take unlimited rides along the JR network, including journeys on the shinkansen and local trains, for one flat fee. Adult 21-day passes cost about 59,000 yen. Reservations on the trains during Rugby World Cup 2019 are highly recommended and you can make reservations for no extra charge with a JR Pass.
Note that the pass doesn't cover a handful of the fastest train services, like Nozomi trains on the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. It's also best to book your pass ahead of time, either through a travel agent overseas or through an online distributor. Take a look at JNTO's all-you-need-to-know guide for more details.
For ease of travel within Tokyo, the Tokyo Subway Ticket is another pass to consider. It allows for unlimited travel along the Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro lines, which are not included in the JR Pass. A three-day ticket costs 1,500 yen, and alongside your JR Pass, you'll be able to zip all over the city hassle-free.
Tickets start from 2,000 yen and go north of 100,000 yen for the best seats at the final match. To buy tickets, you need to create an account and register on the official website.
Applications for general tickets have ended, and the final phase of ticketing is now in process. These will sell on a first come, first-serve basis.
Where to stay
If you want easy access to all 12 stadiums, book accommodation in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, and Sapporo.
With two major airports, Tokyo is a convenient base for venues in Kumagaya, Yokohama, and Tokyo, and works as a base for Shizuoka, too. Nagoya, easily accessed via Chubu Centrair International Airport, is a good base for Toyota City and Shizuoka matches. Osaka is also close enough to Toyota City and Shizuoka to be a base and is within easy reach of Kobe and Hanazono stadiums, too. Fukuoka is an excellent place to stay for the matches in Kumamoto, Oita , and Fukuoka. For matches in Sapporo, you can fly to Sapporo New Chitose Airport. Iwate Hanamaki Airport is closest for Kamaishi, though if you'd rather stay in Tokyo, traveling there by bullet train is quite easy.
Accommodation in Japan includes ryokan (traditional Japanese guesthouse), minshuku (Japanese-style bed & breakfast), business hotels (small Western-style rooms with private bathrooms), capsule hotels (enclosed bunk beds with access to common seating areas and shared bathrooms), hostels (both private and dorm rooms), and, if weather permits, camping.
You can compare prices and make your bookings online. Keep in mind that while last-minute reservations are sometimes possible, they're not a surefire way to save money. Accommodations are usually booked out far in advance for big events, so if you plan on attending Rugby World Cup 2019, it's best to book now.
All information is correct as of March 2019.
TM© Rugby World Cup Limited 1986