Tips for planning your 2019 trip to the Rugby World Cup in Japan
After their shock win against the rugby giants of South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the turn to host falls to Japan. Sport plays a valuable part in their culture – rugby is no exception to this and anyone traveling to Japan for it will have an experience like no other. As a country that mixes traditional and contemporary – from historic shrines, temples and mountainous regions to ultramodern cities with neon lights and skyscrapers – there will also be lots to see and do in the downtime between matches. So whether you’ll be in Japan for the full World Cup stint or just there for select matches, here are a few top tips for planning your trip:
Knowing who’s playing at which stadium and prioritizing certain matches over others is definitely a must before your trip. Be prepared to travel to different stadiums across the country. If sightseeing is something you’re considering too, make sure to allow plenty of time between matches or be willing to sacrifice a game or two to be able to fit it in. That being said, most people can enter Japan for 90 days without a visa and the World Cup lasts for 43 days, with a couple of days between matches here and there for sightseeing.
In relation to the above, it’s a good idea to start planning on how you’ll be getting around Japan for each match. Most matches aren’t contained to the capital of Tokyo – for example, England’s first match is at the Sapporo Dome on Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan! Trains run like clockwork in Japan and train speed is split into different categories: local, rapid, express, limited express and super express. Consider purchasing a Japan Rail Pass ahead of time; it’s definitely a more cost-effective way of traveling around the country and you can choose to hold one for seven, 14 or 21 days.
With the World Cup starting in September and finishing in November, it’s good to know how the weather might change and how to dress accordingly. September can still be quite humid, with high temperatures of 29c whereas October is considered one of the loveliest times to visit Japan with pleasant temperatures between 15-23c. November boasts spectacular autumnal colors with very little rainfall, experiencing highs of 18c and lows of 10c. Make sure to take some comfortable and sensible footwear and waterproofs too – September can be wet and typhoon season finishes in October.
Japan’s currency is called the Japanese Yen, with the symbol ¥. At the time of writing, the exchange rate of 1 GBP is 142 JPY, 1 EUR is 126 JPY and 1 USD is 113 JPY. Yen comes in notes of 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000. To give you an idea, a meal in an inexpensive restaurant can cost, on average, from 650¥ to 1,000¥ whereas a beer in the more expensive Tokyo can cost anything from 600¥. Cash is the most popular means of transaction, but department stores and high-end restaurants accept debit/credit card.
Fish is a huge part of Japan’s cuisine, but you’ll find that other meats like pork, beef and poultry are eaten and there’ll be plenty of vegetarian options too. Learn how to use chopsticks before your trip, but never stick your chopsticks into a bowl of rice vertically – it’s considered taboo, bad luck and rude in restaurants. Slurping noodles is not frowned upon at all, but considered a sign of enjoyment of the food and an empty bowl or cup may be considered that you’re still hungry, not full, so potentially expect more food to appear on occasion.
It’s important to remember that Japan is an incredibly polite and respectful nation as a whole and you will be welcomed wherever you go. With any country, it’s a good idea to try and learn the basics of a language as natives will appreciate and respect your efforts, even if pronunciation is a bit off. All in all, anyone visiting Japan for the Rugby World Cup will have an experience that they’ll never forget.