By Camille Meyers, on August 14, 2019

Rugby World Cup Japan: Things to Do Between Matches

Crouch, bind, set for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan! With matches spread over 12 venues in cities across the country, traveling for the Rugby World Cup lets you experience Japanese culture and hospitality beyond the usual tourist cities. From tasting flights at the Sapporo Beer Museum in Hokkaido to exploring Kumamoto Castle in Kyushu, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Japan during the Rugby World Cup.

To help plan your itinerary, we’ve compiled things to do and what to eat and drink in each of the Rugby World Cup host cities. The first match kicks off September 20 in Tokyo, so grab your 2019 Rugby World Cup tickets and get ready for adventure.

Tips for Getting Around Japan during the Rugby World Cup

Save money by purchasing a JR Rail Pass to take advantage of Japan’s bullet-train network, catch matches in venues across the country, and explore beyond Tokyo while you’re at it. If you’re short on time, book a quick domestic flight between cities.

Once you’re on the ground, pick up a wi-fi router at the airport for unlimited wireless internet in Japan. With the portable router, you can use all your favorite navigation and translation apps without using your phone’s data.

Sapporo City – Sapporo Dome

Pouring Sapporo Beer on tap

Famous for Sapporo beer, world-class skiing, and an annual snow festival, Sapporo is the northernmost city hosting Rugby World Cup matches in 2019. Between mountains of beautiful fall foliage and a pumping nightlife, Sapporo has many things to do to between rugby matches. If you’re a foodie, you won’t want to miss the Sapporo Autumn Festival in Odori Park that runs through the end of September.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Sapporo City:

Date Match Time Match Type
Sat Sept 21 Australia vs Fiji 1:45 pm Pool D
Sun Sept 22 England vs Tonga 7:15 pm Pool C

Where to stay near Sapporo Dome:

You can book your accommodations near Sapporo Dome, or stay in a downtown Sapporo hotel and easily take the train to the stadium.

Things to do in Sapporo:

  • Sapporo Dome – Get to the Rugby World Cup game early to explore the observation deck or take a tour of the futuristic sports complex on an off day.
  • Sapporo Beer Museum – Learn about the history of beer in Japan and enjoy a beer tasting at the end of the brewery tour.
  • Hokkaido Museum – From a wooly mammoth skeleton striding through the lobby to artifacts of the indigenous Ainu people, the Hokkaido Museum displays the long and fascinating history of Japan’s northern island.
  • Kimono Rental and Photoshoot – Get fitted with an authentic Japanese kimono and have a photoshoot in a traditional Japanese garden for an immersive cultural experience.

What to eat and drink in Sapporo:

  • Sapporo Beer – On tap at the Sapporo Beer Garden. They also have an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet which includes unlimited crab.
  • Miso Ramen – A Hokkaido specialty, miso ramen is made with miso broth (unsurprisingly) and topped with corn and a piece of locally produced butter for a rich umami flavor.
  • Jingisukan – Thin sliced lamb and vegetables that you grill at your table on a special metal skillet. Fun fact: it’s named after the Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan.


Kamaishi City – Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium

Large scallops grilled in the shell in Kamaishi

The serene seaside town of Kamaishi City bursts with rugby spirit. The Nippon Steel Corporation Kamaishi Rugby Club won 7 national championships in a row from 1979–1985 and earned themselves the nickname the “Ironmen of the North.” The Rugby World Cup teams will play in the newly built Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium that memorializes the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the area.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Kamaishi:

Date Match Time Match Type
Wed Sept 25 Fiji vs Uruguay 2:15 pm Pool D
Sun Oct 13 Namibia vs Canada 12:15 pm Pool B

Where to stay in Kamaishi City:

Places to stay are limited in the area, so be sure to book your hotel in Kamaishi City sooner rather than later.

Things to do in Kamaishi City:

  • Iron and Steel Museum – Discover the history of iron and steel making in Japan. Interactive displays recreate the first blast furnace in the country and artifacts include raw iron ore and early steel making tools.
  • Kamaishi Festival – From October 18–20, watch performers in tiger costumes dance down the streets and boats adorned with colorful flags parade in the harbor.
  • Kamaishi Daikannon Statue – A 159-foot (48.5-m) tall statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy looks out to the sea to watch over fishermen. Climb the inner stairway to an observation deck cradled in her arms for an awe-inspiring view of the Pacific Ocean.

What to eat and drink in Kamaishi City:

  • Wanko Soba Noodles – An all-you-can-eat noodle game where the server keeps handing you small bowls of soba noodles until you declare defeat. Challenge your friends to see who can eat the most.
  • Wine – Thanks to the soil in the Iwate region, small and large wineries abound, making it the perfect place to savor a glass of local Japanese wine.
  • Fresh Seafood – Head to the local fish market called Sunfish Kamaishi. Restaurants on the second floor serve freshly caught seafood including oysters, Japanese scallops, and sea urchin. Dig into the local specialty of kaisendon, which consists of raw oysters, salmon, shrimp, and fish roe all served over a bowl of rice.


Tokyo – Kumagaya Rugby Stadium & Tokyo Stadium

Tokyo Buildings at Night

Staying in the buzzing metropolis of Tokyo gives you easy access to several match venues during your time in Japan for the Rugby World Cup. Just hop a train and you’re in Kumagaya or Yokohama in less than an hour. Plus, Tokyo Stadium is hosting 8 matches, including the opening between Japan and Russia on September 20. Between shopping in Shinjuku, eating sushi in Tsukiji, and learning the ways of the samurai in Shibuya, you surely won’t run out of things to do in Tokyo during the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Kumagaya:

Date Match Time Match Type
Tues Sept 24 Russia vs Samoa 7:15 pm Pool A
Sun Sept 29 Georgia vs Uruguay 2:15 pm Pool D
Wed Oct 9 Argentina vs USA 1:45 pm Pool C

Where to stay in Kumagaya:

Kumagaya is an easy day trip from Tokyo, but the Saitama Prefecture has plenty of charm to entice you to stay for a few days. However, hotels in Kumagaya are more limited than in Tokyo, so it’s better to book early.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Tokyo:

Date Match Time Match Type
Fri Sept 20 Japan vs Russia 7:45 pm Pool A
Sat Sept 21 France vs Argentina 4:15 pm Pool C
Sun Sept 29 Australia vs Wales 4:45 pm Pool D
Sat Oct 5 England vs Argentina 5:00 pm Pool C
Sun Oct 6 New Zealand vs Namibia 1:45 pm Pool B
Sat Oct 19 Winner Pool B vs Runner Up Pool A 7:15 pm Quarter Finals
Sun Oct 20 Winner Pool A vs Runner Up Pool B 7:15 pm Quarter Finals
Fri Nov 1 Loser Semifinal 1 vs Loser Semifinal 2 6:00 pm Bronze Final

Where to stay near Tokyo Stadium:

A top-notch public transportation system makes it easy to stay anywhere in Tokyo and still get around to see the sights. Pick a hotel near Tokyo Stadium (also called Ajinomoto Stadium) to stay near the rugby action, or find a hotel in a neighborhood that fits your interests with this guide on where to stay in Tokyo.

Things to do in Tokyo:

  • Robot Restaurant Show – Experience samurai battling robot dinosaurs and ninjas riding giant frogs to pumping techno music under glowing neon lights.
  • Go-Kart on Tokyo Roads – Rev your engine for a go-kart adventure on the streets of Tokyo. You can even dress up like your favorite video game character with provided costumes.
  • Wear Samurai Armor – Learn about Japanese samurai history and culture while try on authentic armor for a photoshoot.
  • Go shopping in Tokyo – Whether you’re looking for the latest fashion, cutting-edge electronics, or all things anime, you’ll find it while shopping in Tokyo.
  • Yanaka Walking Tour – For a glimpse at old Tokyo, take a guided walking tour through the historic Yanaka district. Visit the nearly 2,000-year-old Nezu Shrine and stroll along a shopping street of traditional boutiques.

What to eat and drink Tokyo:

  • Bar Hopping in Tokyo – Get an introduction to izakaya (Japanese pub) culture when you go bar hopping with a local in Tokyo.
  • Sushi – One of the best places in Tokyo to eat sushi is at the Tsukiji Fish Market where you can see the day’s fresh catch on display.
  • Lunch with a Sumo Wrestler – Learn about the sport of sumo wrestling and watch a live demonstration by 2 former wrestlers before sitting down for a lunch of chankonabe hotpot.


Yokohama – International Stadium (Nissan Stadium)

Rugby World Cup host city Yokohama Chinatown street

Home to the largest Rugby World Cup venue, Yokohama is hosting 7 games, including the thrilling final match, in International Stadium. The city of Yokohama is a hub of international trade, making it very welcoming and accessible to foreign visitors. While you can easily ride the train to Yokohama from Tokyo in just 18 minutes, this port city offers plenty of shopping, sightseeing, and unique restaurants to warrant spending at least a few days exploring the city.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Yokohama:

Date Match Time Match Type
Sat Sept 21 New Zealand vs South Africa 6:45 pm Pool B
Sun Sept 22 Ireland vs Scotland 4:45 pm Pool A
Sat Oct 12 England vs France 5:15 pm Pool C
Sun Oct 13 Japan vs Scotland 7:45 pm Pool A
Sat Oct 26 Winner Quarterfinal 1 vs Winner Quarterfinal 2 5:00 pm Semi Finals
Sun Oct 27 Winner Quarterfinal 3 vs Winner Quarterfinal 4 6:00 pm Semi Finals
Sat Nov 2 Winner Semifinal 1 vs Winner Semifinal 2 6:00 pm Final

Where to stay in Yokohama near International Stadium:

While you can easily reach International Stadium (also called Nissan Stadium) by public transport, put yourself in the heart of the Rugby World Cup excitement by booking a hotel near the Stadium in Yokohama.

Things to do in Yokohama:

  • Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine – Take a guided tour of Kamakura’s most important shrine dedicated to the patron deity of samurai. Forest bathe under ancient trees and find samurai artifacts like swords and masks in the shrine museum. On September 16, you can watch the 800-year-old tradition of yabusame (horseback archery) performed on the grounds during a festival.
  • CupNoodles Museum Yokohama – This family-friendly museum explores how the beloved staple of instant ramen is made and how it was invented. You even get to make and take home your own unique Cup Noodles creation.
  • Hedgehog Cafe – Drink coffee while cuddling a variety of hedgehogs during this uniquely Japanese experience.

What to eat and drink in Yokohama:

  • Yokohama Food Tour – From soft-serve ice cream in Chinatown to Yokohama’s specialty spaghetti dish, take a guided tour of the unique cuisine this city has to offer.
  • Shinyokohama Raumen Museum – The world’s first food-themed amusement park includes a gallery of the history of ramen and a food court featuring 9 ramen restaurants serving different styles of this noodle dish from across Japan. English menus, vegetarian, and no pork options are available.
  • Kirin Beer – The Kirin Beer Village offers complimentary brewery tours with a beer tasting.


Hamamatsu – Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa

The Rugby World Cup venue Hamamatsu city by the lake

Turn up the volume while cheering during the 4 Rugby World Cup matches in Hamamatsu’s Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa. Chances are you’ve encountered cars, motorcycles, and musical instruments manufactured in Hamamatsu for brands like Honda, Yamaha, Kawai, and Suzuki. Known as the City of Music, even Hamamatsu’s only skyscraper, the Act City Tower Observatory, was designed to look like a harmonica.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Hamamatsu:

Date Match Time Match Type
Sat Sept 28 Japan vs Ireland 4:15 pm Pool A
Fri Oct 4 South Africa vs Italy 6:45 pm Pool B
Wed Oct 9 Scotland vs Russia 4:15 pm Pool A
Fri Oct 11 Australia vs Georgia 7:15 pm Pool D

Where to stay near Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Hamamatsu:

Snag a hotel in Hamamatsu near Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa for easy access to and from the Rugby World Cup matches.

Things to do in Hamamatsu:

  • Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments – Peruse a collection of over 1,200 musical instruments from around the world and even have the chance to play some of them.
  • Enjoy Nature – From the shores of Lake Hamana, to the slopes of the Nakatajima Sand Dunes, to the underground waterfall in Ryugashido Cavern, there is plenty of outdoor adventure to experience around Hamamatsu.
  • Hamamatsu Flower Park – Exhibiting over 3,000 different species of plants, you can see elaborate flower displays year-round in the greenhouses.
  • Watch Japanese Powerboat Racing – Watch racers zoom across the water during thrilling speedboat races at Boat Race Hamanako Stadium.

What to eat and drink in Hamamatsu:

  • Green Tea – The misty mountains of Hokuen grow over 40 percent of Japan’s high-quality green tea.
  • Grilled Eel – Unagi (eel) raised in Lake Hamana are highly prized across Japan for their firmness and rich taste.
  • Gyoza – The citizens of Hamamatsu eat the most gyoza per person in all of Japan, so you know it must be good.


Toyota City – Toyota Stadium

Known for manufacturing—you guessed it—Toyota cars, Toyota City is set to host 4 matches during the Japan Rugby World Cup. Auto enthusiasts can check out both the Toyota Automobile Museum and the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology to see some rare cars and how they were made. The nearby Nagoya is a more bustling city, offering plenty of things to do during the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Toyota City:

Date Match Time Match Type
Mon Sept 23 Wales vs Georgia 7:15 pm Pool D
Sat Sept 28 South Africa vs Namibia 6:45 pm Pool B
Sat Oct 5 Japan vs Samoa 7:30 pm Pool A
Sat Oct 12 New Zealand vs Italy 1:45 pm Pool B

Where to stay near Toyota Stadium:

Book a hotel near Toyota Stadium to be close to the game. You’ll also find a wide selection of hotels in Nagoya, which is just an 1.5-hour train ride away.

Things to do in Toyota City and Nagoya:

  • Toyota Automobile Museum – See Japanese, European and American automobiles from the late 1800s to now.
  • Hida Takayama and Shirakawa-go Day Trip – Travel back in time to Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1867) as you explore the open-air museum of preserved houses at Hida Takayama. In Shirakawa-go, take in the picturesque gassho-zukuri farmhouses whose steep thatched roofs have withstood heavy snowfall for over 250 years.
  • Nagoya Castle and Gardens – Wander around the stronghold of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu at Nagoya Castle and admire the beautifully painted palace rooms. Then, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of several gardens and Atsuta Jingu Shrine with a knowledgeable guide.

What to eat and drink in Toyota City and Nagoya:

  • Gohei-mochi – For something mildly sweet, try grilled sticky rice on a skewer covered with a sweat sauce.
  • Hitsumabushi – Grilled eel served over rice is a famous regional specialty.
  • Food Tour in Nagoya – Grab a beer, slurp some noodles, and meet the locals as your guide takes you to several standing bar restaurants around town.


Osaka – Hanazono Rugby Stadium

Glico running man sign in Osaka

Built in 1929, the historic Hanazono Rugby Stadium might be one of the best places to watch a Rugby World Cup match in Japan. Osaka is known as Japan’s party city and is full of izakaya (Japanese pubs) to celebrate or commiserate in after a game. Fill your belly with delicious street food as you stroll down Dotonbori Street, marvel at Osaka Aquarium’s whale shark exhibit, and explore the area’s stunning castles and temples.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Osaka:

Date Match Time Match Type
Sun Sept 22 Italy vs Namibia 2:15 pm Pool B
Sat Sept 28 Argentina vs Tonga 1:45 pm Pool C
Thurs Oct 3 Georgia vs Fiji 2:15 pm Pool D
Sun Oct 13 USA vs Tonga 2:45 pm Pool C

Where to stay in Osaka:

Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto are well connected by trains, making Osaka a good headquarters for your time in Japan during the Rugby World Cup. Stay near the sightseeing and nightlife in a downtown Osaka hotel.

Things to do in Osaka:

  • Osaka Aquarium – Considered one of the best aquariums in the world, Osaka Aquarium’s highlights include adorable penguins, a huge whale shark, and giant spider crabs.
  • Biking Tour of Osaka – Cycle around Osaka to discover its hip neighborhoods and historic sights like Osaka Castle and the Japan Mint.
  • Nara Deer Park – The local population of sacred deer are so used to people they will eat special deer crackers right out of your hand. Also in the park, Todaiji Temple houses one of Japan’s largest bronze Buddha statues and is worth a look.
  • Himeji Castle – Take a guided tour though Himeji Castle’s maze-like passageways and beautifully preserved grounds at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Universal Studios Japan® – Take the whole family for thrilling theme park rides based on Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Jaws, and more.

What to eat and drink in Osaka:

  • Osaka Food Guide – Known as the Kitchen of Japan, Osaka’s food scene is so legendary we wrote a whole guide on what to eat in Osaka.
  • Kyoto Food Tours – Nearby Kyoto is one of the best places to enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and maybe catch a glimpse of a geisha while bar hopping in Gion.


Kobe – Kobe Misaki Stadium (Noevir Stadium Kobe)

Giant robot statue in Kobe

World famous for its delicious beef, Kobe is hosting several exciting Rugby World Cup matches in Kobe Misaki Stadium (also called Noevir Stadium Kobe). You’ll find plenty of tasty restaurants and a lively shopping district in this modern port city.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Kobe:

Date Match Time Match Type
Thurs Sept 26 England vs USA 7:45 pm Pool C
Mon Sept 30 Scotland vs Samoa 7:15 pm Pool A
Thurs Oct 3 Ireland vs Russia 7:15 pm Pool A
Tues Oct 8 South Africa vs Canada 7:15 pm Pool B

Where to stay in Kobe:

Kobe Misaki Stadium is just a 10-minute subway ride from the city center, so you have plenty of hotel options in Kobe.

Things to do in Kobe:

  • Taiko Traditional Drum Lesson – Work up a sweat while learning the art and technique of playing traditional taiko drums.
  • Mount Rokko – Take the old-timey cable car to the summit for breathtaking views of Kobe, Osaka, and the surrounding area. It’s a romantic spot to watch the sunset.
  • Tetsujin 28 Robot Statue – A 59-foot (18-m) robot that protects the citizens of Kobe. See it in Wakamatsu Park near the Shin-Nagata Station.
  • Visit Kyoto: Just a short train ride from Kobe, it’s easy to spend a weekend in Kyoto or longer while checking out all the historical and cultural sights of this ancient capital.

What to eat and drink in Kobe:

  • Kobe Beef – Valued for its tenderness, marbling, and rich flavor, chances are you’ve heard of the internationally famous Kobe beef. It comes with a hefty price tag, but if you love steak, eating Kobe beef in Kobe is a must.
  • Sake – Kobe’s Nada district is a historical sake-brewing region in Japan and known to produce some of the country’s best sake.
  • Chinese Food – From Peking duck to steam buns, you can find a variety of Chinese specialties in Kobe’s Chinatown a short walk from Motomachi train station.


Fukuoka – Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium

Fukuoka city skyline as one of the host cities for the Rugby World Cup

The bustling harbor city of Fukuoka is the largest city on the southern island of Kyushu and is hosting several Rugby World Cup games in Hakatanomori Stadium. You can easily fly into Fukuoka’s airport or take the bullet train from other parts of Japan. Relaxing beaches, plentiful shopping, and mouth-watering cuisine make Fukuoka a great place to enjoy the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Fukuoka:

Date Match Time Match Type
Thurs Sept 26 Italy vs Canada 4:45 pm Pool B
Wed Oct 2 France vs USA 4:45 pm Pool C
Sat Oct 12 Ireland vs Samoa 7:45 pm Pool A

Where to stay in Fukuoka:

The Hakatanomori Stadium is located in a park with the Level5 Stadium near the airport. If you want to stay closer to the heart of the city check out hotels in Fukuoka near Tenjin Central Park.

Things to do in Fukuoka:

  • Hojoya Festival – Food venders and carnival atmosphere surround this Buddhist festival at Hakozaki shrine from September 12-18.
  • Itoshima – This beach is famous for surfing and sunsets.
  • Cycle around Shika Island – Just a short ferry ride from Fukuoka, you can rent bikes on Shika Island to cycle around the flat coastal roadway and enjoy the gorgeous water views.
  • Yusentei Park – Check out the beautiful fall colors at this Japanese style garden.

What to eat and drink in Fukuoka:

  • Hakata Ramen – Slurp up thin noodles with rich pork bone broth simmered for 12 hours. Even if you’ve had ramen in other parts of Japan, Fukuoka’s specialty is a must try.
  • Hakata Udon – In Fukuoka, thick udon noodles are cooked until soft and served in a lightly sweet broth.
  • Mentaiko – Pollock roe marinated in salt and red chili peppers. This salty and spicy dish is popular in Japanese bars.


Oita – Oita Stadium (Showa Denko Dome Oita)

Beppu Hot Springs make for a relaxing soak during the Rugby World Cup

Oita is hosting some exciting games during the Rugby World Cup including two quarter final matches. When you’re not cheering for a try at Oita’s stadium, explore the gorgeous natural scenery of the area or party hardy in a night club. Known as a hot springs resort area, taking a relaxing soak in the nearby town of Beppu is definitely one of the top things to do in Oita during the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Oita:

Date Match Time Match Type
Wed Oct 2 New Zealand vs Canada 7:15 pm Pool B
Sat Oct 5 Australia vs Uruguay 2:15 pm Pool D
Wed Oct 9 Wales vs Fiji 6:45 pm Pool D
Sat Oct 19 Winner Pool C vs Runner Up Pool D 4:15 pm Quarter Finals
Sun Oct 20 Winner Pool D vs Runner Up Pool C 4:15 pm Quarter Finals

Where to stay near Oita Stadium:

Find hotels near Oita Stadium (also called the Showa Denko Dome Oita) to stay close to the action. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and some relaxing warm water, check out the nearby hot springs resort town of Beppu and opt for a traditional ryokan experience.

Things to do in Oita:

  • Hot springs – Thanks to the area’s geothermal activity, hot springs abound in Oita and nearby Beppu. While many hot springs typically ban tattoos, some onsen are relaxing their tattoo policies in to accommodate Rugby World Cup fans.
  • Takasakiyama Nature Zoo – More like a nature park than a zoo, animals roam the mountainside freely. Plan your visit for feeding time to see hundreds of wild monkeys up close.
  • Oita Prefectural Art Museum – Grab a drink in the café and relax in the spacious atrium before wandering around to check out the various galleries.

What to eat and drink in Oita:

  • Toriten (Chicken Tempura) and Chicken Karage – Two types of battered and deep-fried chicken—what’s not to like?
  • Sushi – Fish caught in the nearby Bungo Suido Channel are said to be meatier and more delicious than those caught elsewhere.
  • Bungo Beef – Similar to Kobe beef, Bungo beef is known for its marbling and melt-in-your-mouth flavor.


Kumamoto – Kumamoto Stadium (Egao Kenko Stadium)

Kumamoto Castle with cherry blossoms in Kumamoto

Built around Kumamoto Castle in 1607, vibrant and relaxed Kumamoto City is hosting 2 Rugby World Cup matches at Kumamoto Stadium (also called Egao Kenko Stadium). Explore the area’s scenic mountains and islands or learn about Kumamoto City’s warrior roots at the magnificent Castle. While you’re exploring Kumamoto’s many things to do during the Rugby World Cup, you’re sure to see the region’s adorable mascot Kumamon, a smiling black bear with red cheeks, all around town.

Rugby World Cup Matches in Kumamoto:

Date Match Time Match Type
Sun Oct 6 France vs Tonga 4:45 pm Pool C
Sun Oct 13 Wales vs Uruguay 5:15 pm Pool D

Where to stay in Kumamoto:

Kumamoto Stadium is near the airport, but you’ll find a better selection of hotels in Kumomoto City itself. That also puts you in a better location for exploring the area.

Things to do in Kumamoto:

  • Kumamoto Castle – One of Japan’s most impressive castles. The castle suffered major damage from the 2016 earthquakes and is under repair, but the plaza in front of the main keep will be open during the Rugby World Cup from October 5-14.
  • Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Center – Watch live traditional craft demonstrations, such as basket making, and meet local artists. Everything on display is for sale, making it a great place to buy souvenirs.
  • Dolphin Watching – Take a day trip to the beautiful Amakusa Islands and cruise around Shimabara Bay looking for wild dolphins.
  • Visit Nagasaki – The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is well worth a trip and be sure to check out the Nagasaki Kunchi festival at the Suwa Shrine. Eating festival food and watching dragon dances is a perfect way to fill time between Rugby World Cup matches as the celebration runs from October 7-9.

What to eat and drink in Kumamoto:

  • Shochu – An alcoholic beverage distilled from rice, barley, or sweet potatoes. The island of Kyushu is the best place to try shochu, and Kumamoto is home to 28 shochu distilleries.
  • Karashi Renkon – Lotus root stuffed with miso and spicy mustard. It goes great with sochu.
  • Ikinari Dango – A dessert dumpling made of sweet potato topped with anko (sweet red bean paste) all wrapped in dough and steamed.

Whether you’re staying for a few days or a few weeks, you’ll find so many cultural, historical, and delicious things to do in Japan during the Rugby World Cup that you may never want to leave. With thousands of excited fans traveling to Japan for the Rugby World Cup it’s sure to be a lively time to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.