While you’re in the Tokyo area, make sure you also head to nearby Yokohama, the capital of Kanagawa prefecture, which is the birthplace of rugby in Japan. British military officers founded the Yokohama Football Club there in 1866.
It’s fitting, then, that the Yokohama match venue is Japan’s largest stadium, International Stadium Yokohama. With room for about 70,000 rugby fans, it boasts premium facilities including hybrid turf, newly upgraded seats, LED lighting and dynamic speaker systems.
For a taste of tradition while in Yokohama, try sukiyaki, a local specialty.
As an international trading port, Yokohama brought many innovations to Japan, rugby among them. Hot-pot-style dishes where you cook raw ingredients in a delicious pot of boiling soup at your table have long been a part of Japanese life, but it was in Yokohama that people first saw the conspicuous consumption of beef—by Western visitors—and incorporated it into their cuisine. At Yokohama Seryna Romanjaya, a famous sukiyaki restaurant, you can sample the dish at its best, made with the world renowned Kobe beef.
Major airports worldwide have multiple fl ights to Tokyo each day, and visitors can travel cost-effectively within Japan by buying a Japan Rail Pass in their home countries. The area around Tokyo Stadium is roughly 1.5h from Haneda Airport by train, while International Stadium Yokohama is around 1h by train from Shinjuku Station. Kamaishi is about 4.5h from Tokyo Station via the Tohoku Shinkansen and JR Kamaishi Line. To reach the Abukuma Caves, stop at Koriyama Station in Fukushima Prefecture and take the Ban-Etsuto Higashi line 45m to Kammata Station, followed by a short taxi ride.
Then set off through Fukushima towards host city Kamaishi, which is around 4.5 hours from Tokyo station by high-speed and local rail. Japan’s trains are arguably the world’s most pleasant to ride, making the trip a joy, and much of the journey is through Japan’s spectacular landscape, defined by the green of mountains, forests and fields.
On the way, you can change at Koriyama Station to reach Kammata Station and the Abukuma Limestone Caves, a complex approximately 3km long that is said to have the largest variety of stalactites in Asia. Limestone caves are a magical sight and the journey through them is an adventure in itself, with courses offering views of halls including the breathtaking Takine Palace, which is around 30m tall, and the evocative Lunar World, where dramatic lighting mimics the progress of daylight from sunrise to sunset.
When you reach Kamaishi, orient yourself to the area and its culture at the Kamaishi Daikannon. This 48.5m-high statue stands to pray for the safety of the sea and all who travel on it, including local fishermen. The area around the majestic figure grants visitors equally epic views of the ocean and the Iwate coast.
The match venue itself, Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, is part of an area where the earthquake of 2011 devastated nearby coastal settlements. It sits amid an unforgettable vista of hills, open sky, and groves of straight-trunked trees towering behind the stands. Matches there will be a poignant reminder of the resilience of the Japanese spirit, and a fitting counterpart to the determination of the sportsmen competing there for victory.