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Comprehensive news about sporting experiences and tourism in Japan

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Whether you are interested in sports related news in Japan or new developments for visitors planning their next trip, here we will keep you posted on all the essential, relevant information and helpful tips so you won't miss a beat.

Delving into Tokyo’s Culture

Delving into Tokyo’s Culture

This time we visited Tokyo again, and met up with Émile at Meiji Jingu. It was a bright morning, and the first thing that caught his attention was the massive size of the torii (the gate to a shrine) at Meiji Jingu.

Meiji Jingu
One of the most famous shrines in Japan is Meiji Jingu. It was built to honor the greatly admired Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. After their deaths, 100,000 trees from all over the country were donated to build the forest that surrounds the shrine. It took many years, but Meiji Jingu was finally completed in 1920.

Émile had already visited several shrines in Kyushu, so he knew the rules and rituals that go into visiting them. The priests at Meiji Jingu were quite surprised by Émile’s knowledge and respect for Japanese tradition. During his visit, he saw brides and grooms in traditional Japanese wedding attire—kimono and hakama (traditional ceremonial clothing)—while making their way through the grounds of the shrine. At the same time, a couple was asking for favor and protection for their newborn during a Shinto rite of passage called hatsumiyamairi.

Émile was touched by just how much Japanese people respected the past while living in a modern world. “It is very important that families pass down these traditions from generation to generation,” he said. “It’s great to see how Japanese people respect their own traditions and culture.”

Harajuku and Shibuya
Near the ancient traditions and holy ceremonies of Meiji Jingu is the heart of contemporary Japanese youth culture—Takeshita Street. It’s packed with colorful shops and stores selling the latest fashions. When a trend sweeps through Japan, it usually starts here. Émile saw people eating rainbow-colored cotton candy twice as big as his head and tasted bubble tea, Japan’s latest food trend.

Also in Harajuku is one of the unique cafes in Japan. The Kawaii Monster Cafe was designed to overwhelm customers with cuteness. The servers are dressed in wild and vibrant clothes and perform wacky dances. The architecture and furniture almost feel alive. The food can only be described as bizarre—rainbow noodles, alien cakes, chocolate chicken, and more. However, the zaniness didn’t faze Émile. “This place is insane,” he exclaimed. “But it’s perfect for kids!”

Delving into Tokyo’s Culture

After the cafe, Émile hopped on the local train to Shibuya—just one station away from Harajuku. Shibuya is Tokyo’s most well-known shopping and entertainment district. It’s home to the famous Hachiko dog statue and iconic Shibuya Scramble Crossing. More than half a million peopl e cross this celebrated intersection every day.

Japan Olympic Museum
Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay long because the newly opened Japan Olympic Museum was waiting for him. Run by Japanese Olympic Committee, the museum, whose concept is ‘Olympic Museum for everyone’, teaches visitors about the history and significance of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Émile, a former rugby player himself and father of two rugby players, felt very touched by the atmosphere.
Émile said the architecture was beautiful and he thought it was the kind of place where one could build new memories with each visit. Several interactive experiences can be found at the museum that allow visitors to compare their abilities with those of an Olympic athlete.

Delving into Tokyo’s Culture

Akihabara
The next day, Émile visited Akihabara. The neighborhood is Japan’s otaku (geek) district, where videogame and electronic stores line every road, and back alleys are stuffed with shops specializing in fandom, from toys and comic books to posters and animation.

It was the perfect opportunity to shop for souvenirs. The only problem: there was just too much! Émile had no choice but to call up home and ask friends what they wanted.

Speaking of choices, choosing lunch in Akihabara is no simple feat. However, this is Japan, and a proper foodie shouldn’t visit Japan without experiencing kaitenzushi, or conveyor belt sushi. These restaurants have conveyor belts that deliver sushi directly to customers. If you see something you like, you simply take it off the line. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to eat sushi. Émile said he couldn’t believe the efficiency of the restaurant—or the price! His favorite was the maguro (tuna), but he was fortunate enough to visit during autumn to enjoy seasonal fish such as sanma (Pacific saury) and kanburi (Japanese amberjack).

Final Stop
The final destination of Émile’s cultural trip through Tokyo was a tea ceremony at the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo. Although the tradition originated from China, the Japanese tea ceremony evolved over 700 years to develop its own style and rituals. One of the primary concepts behind the tea ceremony is wabi-sabi—a Japanese aesthetic principle based on the beauty of impermanence. Everything, from the movements of the server to the temperature of the water, is a part of the art and the tea ceremony can take years to master. The entire experience is intended to lead you to a peaceful state, and it was a perfect end to Émile’s lively trip around Tokyo.

The culture of Japan is very nuanced. It respects sacred shrines and ancient rites but also emphasizes cuteness and fandom. It’s what makes discovering the country so special. No matter what your interest is, you can find it in Japan.

Day Trip to Yokohama

Day Trip to Yokohama

Travel just a short way south of Tokyo, and you’ll find Japan’s second most populated city—Yokohama. Long known as a port town, it now offers the perfect blend of tradition and modern convenience. Andy and Émile came through Yokohama on their Japan Sports Journey through Japan to visit a museum dedicated to one of the country’s best-known foods, take in some of the city’s sites, and sample the nightlife.

To get to Yokohama, the pair decided to travel in luxury on Japan’s high-tech bullet train. It was a welcome change after airplanes and buses! Called the Shinkansen in Japanese, the bullet train is a marvel of modern transportation. It quietly glides over its tracks, and can reach a speed of about 300 kilometers per hour. As Andy and Émile left Tokyo Station en route to Shin-Yokohama Station, Andy said it was his first time to ride. He couldn’t believe the entire trip took only 18 minutes. Before they had really settled down, they were already in Yokohama (You can understand how fast it is, considering that it takes at least 45 minutes by taxi to get to Shin-Yokohama Station from Tokyo Station)!

The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is a large food court themed to look like a street in the 1950s, jam-packed with ramen shops. Visitors not only learn the history of ramen there, but they get to eat it too. Ramen from every region of Japan is featured. Émile said he was surprised that so many different flavors existed—soy sauce, miso, salt, pork, chicken—and he was amazed by the sheer variety of toppings. There are even different types of noodles, and you can try each one to discover your favorite.

After thinking long and hard, the pair settled on ramen from Kumamoto. The ramen received high praise from Émile. “The taste is good and the presentation is second to none!”. When you see it coming, you say ‘bon appétit!’” Andy said he wasn’t very hungry at first, but once he smelled it, he had to eat it!

Day Trip to Yokohama

After stuffing themselves with noodles, Andy and Émile took a stroll through Yamashita Park. It stretches across Yokohama’s waterfront and offers visitors beautiful views of the bay and passing ocean liners. For an even closer look, the guys purchased tickets for the Sea Bass—one of Yokohama’s ocean buses. The passenger ship gives visitors a unique way to travel from Yokohama Station and see some of the bay’s most popular tourist spots. One of them is Minato Mirai, a seaside area that includes the Yokohama Cosmo World, the Landmark Tower, and a number of shopping malls. The guys took a ride on the Sea Bass to visit Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse—a historical harbor building that now serves as a popular mall and event venue.

Day Trip to Yokohama

After a bit of shopping and sightseeing, the group visited Noge, Yokohama’s famous nightlife district, for a quick nightcap. The riverside hub hasn’t changed much over the last 50 years. There are no skyscrapers or bright lights, just narrow streets and tiny bars and izakayas filled with friends telling stories and sharing drinks—the perfect place to end the journey in Yokohama.

Sights and Flavors of Osaka and Kobe

Sights and Flavors of Osaka and Kobe

Osaka and Kobe, Japan’s third- and seventh largest cities, respectively, are part of the Keihanshin region—which also includes Kyoto. The two cities offer a popular and easily doable three- to four-day itinerary for tourists. Andy hit both of them for the kind of food, culture, and fun you can only have in Kobe and Osaka. First stop? Kobe’s very own Chinatown.

Chinatown and a Sake Museum
Kobe’s Nankinmachi is one of the city’s major tourist attractions—and for a good reason! The area is home to more than 100 Chinese restaurants, stores, and even a temple dedicated to Guan Yu—a major figure of China’s Three Kingdom’s Period. Three impressive archways mark the east, west, and south entrances to the neighborhood, while guardian lions watch over its north. A pavilion featuring the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac highlights the main square. Posing for a picture, Andy said he was born under the sign of the tiger.

Next was a visit to Kobe’s sake district—the largest in Hyogo Prefecture—to see the historic Sawanotsuru Museum. The Sawanotsuru has been brewing sake for more than 300 years, and their museum shares insights about the entire brewing process. But no visit to a sake museum is complete without a tasting, and Andy found the umeshu to be his favorite. It’s made from shochu (distilled liquor), plums, and sugar. He liked it so much that he ordered it whenever he had the chance for the rest of his trip!

Later in the day, the weather turned for the worse—but that just meant everyone got to relax at an onsen earlier than expected.

Hot Springs, Hiking, Kobe Beef
Arima Onsen is—you guessed it—an onsen town located in the city limits of Kobe. Its mountain setting is packed with natural hot springs and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns). Despite about 1,000-year history, the small town is still considered a hidden treasure. There are two kinds of springs you can enjoy there. Kinsen, or gold spring, is enriched with iron and salt and has a yellow hue, while ginsen—or silver spring—contains radium and carbonate that the locals say cures muscle aches. Andy said it was the perfect way to rest after all the walking he had been doing over the past few days.

Refreshed after soaking in the onsen and a good night’s sleep, Andy was ready to take on Mount Rokko, a famous retreat for hikers and nature lovers. The views from the peak give a rewarding panoramic view of the surrounding area. Andy said it was simply beautiful. The entire five-hour journey required crossing over rocky terrain, murky swamps, and steep slopes, but the experience was worth it. Of course, afterwards Andy was ready for another dip in one of Arima Onsen’s soothing hot springs.

For his last night in Kobe, Andy was treated to world-famous Kobe beef at a teppanyaki restaurant, where the chef cooks your meal right in front of you on an iron griddle. During his meal, Andy was able to talk with the chef, learning about the restaurant’s history and the chef’s training, while looking out at Kobe’s night skyline from the restaurant’s windows. He then called it an early night. After all, the trip wasn’t over yet. Osaka was waiting!

Feasting in Osaka
In the morning, Andy visited the Umeda Sky Building—a landmark of Osaka. From the observation deck, he could see the Rokko mountain range and joked that he was still feeling a bit sore from yesterday. It was time to reenergize with one of Osaka’s most famous delicacies.

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped piece of dough with a piece of octopus inside; it is topped with bonito flakes, mayonnaise, a sweet brown sauce, and green onions. While you can find it anywhere in Japan, it was invented in Osaka. The locals put a lot of love and care into the dish, and at the takoyaki restaurant Takonotetsu, you can have the experience of making this dish yourself. Andy was given a crash course on how to cook the perfect takoyaki. He enjoyed it so much he said he might have to take his own takoyaki grill back to England.

Andy took a stroll through Kuromon Market. It’s known as “Osaka’s Kitchen” because everyone—from grandmas to professional chefs—buys their supplies there. The rain was pouring, so the day ended with a trip to the local pub for a few drinks and kushiage—Osaka-style deep-fried meat, veggies, and cheese on skewers.

City with Many Sides
When morning came, Andy started off the day with a visit to Nakanoshima Park. Nestled between the Dojima and Tosabori rivers, it is Osaka’s first public park. It also has an impressive rose garden that features some 4,000 roses. Andy took a picture of a particularly beautiful red rose to show his support for the English rugby team.

Sights and Flavors of Osaka and Kobe

He then toured Osaka Castle, one of the most historic and important buildings in Japan. The castle has stood as an icon for more than 400 years. For Andy, the view from the castle was particularly impressive, as the surrounding foliage had begun to change to its autumn colors. Helmets and armor from the samurai that once manned the castle were on display, and Andy tried on the helmet of the daimyo (ruler) himself—Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He was surprised by the weight of the great ruler’s helmet.

Andy then paid a visit to Taikoen Yodogawa-tei, a garden and restaurant that is more than 100 years old. Its lush greenery and peaceful atmosphere were a complete change of pace from Osaka’s busy streets. It features a beautiful landscape design, serene pond, and stunning architecture that can be enjoyed all year round. Andy remarked that it was exactly what he needed after such a long and exciting tour.

Sights and Flavors of Osaka and Kobe

Next was a change of pace—spending time with students from a local high school known for its rugby team. The kids were thrilled to meet Andy, and although the weather was rough, they were still able to play a bit. At the end of the day, Andy gave the students some words of encouragement. He told them there is always room for improvement, but more importantly, win or lose, they should always enjoy the game.

The trip was coming to an end, but there was still time for one more delicious meal. The Michelin three-starred restaurant Hajime boasts a menu unlike anything else you will find in Japan. Its avant-garde course menu, titled “Dialogue with the Earth 2019,” features culinary delights that represent different aspects of nature such as clouds and earth. Andy described the meal as “absolute magic” and said it was one of the best food experiences of his entire life.

Andy thought that his trip through Kobe and Osaka was unforgettable. He had climbed tall mountains, sported the armor of a Japanese daimyo, and spent the night in a hidden valley surrounded by natural hot springs—all in just a few days. It just goes to show that you can find a wealth of things to do in Kobe and Osaka. What will you discover on your trip?

Rugby World Cup 2019 came to an end!

Rugby World Cup 2019 came to an end!

 After nearly 50 games , Rugby World Cup 2019 came to an end on November 2nd. What a thrilling journey it was! With about six weeks of exciting performances by 20 qualifying teams from around the world, over 600 players, tens of thousands of fans cheering in stadiums around Japan, hundreds of thousands more viewing from home, pubs, sports bars and official “fan zones” set up around Japan, along with millions more around the globe, we were all on the edge of our seats in anticipation of the final game. We were so excited that Japan’s thrilling victory over Scotland set a new record this year for the most-watched live sports event in the Kanto area of Japan at this time! (The Kanto area is the region in which Tokyo is located)

 November 2nd also marked the conclusion of Japan Sports Journey’s Campaign, where we are giving away 80 prizes including original souvenirs and rugby memorabilia. We here at Japan Sports Journey want to say “Thank you SO MUCH for all the applications to this campaign!”

 And remember - later, we will showcase the social media posts made by all 80 of the prize winners, so be sure to check it out!

A True Tokyo Experience

A True Tokyo Experience

As the nation’s capital, it should come as no surprise that Tokyo offers a wealth of activities to be enjoyed, and our three rugby legends made the most of their time in the city.

Chofu
First, we caught up with Justin, who was visiting Tokyo Tourist Information Counters in Chofu , where he chatted and took pictures with rugby fans and tried his hand at a variety of activities. One of them was making paper models of Tokyo Station or Tokyo Tower. Justin decided to tackle a model of Tokyo Station. Making the models takes a lot of skills, and the 2.01m Justin said, “It definitely would help if I had smaller hands!”

He then tried on a colorful costume and had a few pictures of himself taken, which were turned into a GIF animation that he was able to view on his phone. He also visited a virtual reality (VR) station, which offered panoramic views of locations around Tokyo. For his VR journey, he decided to take a spin around the Tama area, and he couldn’t believe just how immersive the experience was.

Asakusa
Later, we met up with Émile, who is starting off his morning in the Kappabashi area of Asakusa. The area is known for its kitchen products—including plastic replica food. One of the best-known shops that specializes in this is Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya. After learning about the history and the detailed process that goes into making replica foods, Émile had the chance to make some of his own. He tried his hand at making some plastic ramen and curry and rice. As he said, “It was so real, it looked good enough to eat.”

A True Tokyo Experience

He then moved on to one of Asakusa’s most famous destinations: Kaminarimon. As he looked at the impressive red gate and the shopping streets leading towards the Sensoji Temple, he was pleased to see so many young people wearing kimono and enjoying the fine weather.

Émile then went in for a very different experience at Kawarana, where he took on the challenge of smashing ceramic tiles with his bare hands. After a quick introduction and training session, he put on a karate gi and belt and went at it. He was blown away by the experience: “This is so much fun! I thought it would be quite difficult, but it was rather easy and not painful at all.”

Moving on to a culinary experience, Émile dropped by at Chagohan Tokyo. First, he learned how dashi (Japanese broth) is made. Then, he had the chance to make his own Osaka-style okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancake), using a variety of ingredients. He was even able to make his own sauce!

A Slow Boat Ride
The next stop was a sake tasting shop in Ryogoku, which is also known as the home of sumo wrestling. At the shop, Émile met up with Andy Gomarsall MBE, who used to play scrum-half for the England national rugby team, Leeds Carnegie, and Gloucester Rugby. The two former players sampled a few varieties of sake, and they both tried warm sake for the first time.

After this, Émile and Andy boarded a yakatabune (a low, barge-style boat with tatami flooring inside the cabin) where they set off on the Sumida River. Andy and Émile enjoyed a delicious meal of sashimi, tempura, and soba. Émile said, “It was fantastic. All of the different fish and vegetables are wonderfully fresh and delicious.” Andy added, “My family loves sashimi, so they would be very jealous of me right now—on a boat, in Tokyo, with tons of sashimi.”

The yakatabune made its way out to the Odaiba area and stopped near Rainbow Bridge. They went out on to the deck of the yakatabune, where they took pictures of the stunning skyline.

As the yakatabune headed back to Asakusa, Andy and Émile were in for a special treat. Joining them in the tatami room of the yakatabune was a musician who played the shamisen, a traditional three-stringed instrument. Both of the rugby greats were impressed by the performance.

Andy said, “It was so unique—powerful and impactful. I feel that music always tells a story, and this really expresses Japan in such a beautiful way.” Émile added, “It was my first time hearing music like this. You had some songs that were melancholic, and other songs that were very dynamic. It was fantastic!” It was a perfect end to a very busy day.

Dropping in on Ginza
Émile began the next morning by picking up some souvenirs for his friends and family at a shop in Ginza.
Later, he visited the celebrated Japanese lacquerware shop, Yamada Heiando. The shop’s customers include the Emperor of Japan and the Imperial Family, and Émile was awestruck by the craftsmanship that was on display there.

Then it was time for a quick lunch at Tempura Abe, a popular tempura restaurant. Émile was surprised by just how popular it was: “It’s small and in a basement, but people are lining up just to get in. Wow, this is amazing!” He was even more amazed by the food, and exclaimed, “The food is light and delicious and freshly served straight from the kitchen by the chef! My culinary experience in Japan is never-ending; I continue to be surprised each day.”

Calligraphy, Sushi, and Art
We then caught up with Andy, who was at the famous YANESEN Tourist Information Center in Taito Ward. He was there for a lesson in calligraphy. First, he learned the proper way to write strokes in kanji—Japanese characters. Then, after a bit of practice, he started learning how to write the characters for “friend” and “Japan.” Andy said, “It was tough—there were so many things to remember, but it was such a wonderful experience.” For his part, the calligraphy master was impressed by Andy’s patience and dedication to getting his characters right.

Next up was a visit to Sushi Gonpachi, the restaurant made famous by the movie Kill Bill. Andy got to see some of the places in the restaurant where some of the movie’s scenes were shot. He also had sushi there, and he said, “It was just extraordinary to witness the chef making the sushi with such attention to detail—it was incredible.”

A True Tokyo Experience

Finally, Andy went to MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless, which he thought was completely spectacular. “This was simply amazing,” he said. “The creativity and conceptualization by the creators are fascinating. You could spend the whole day here and not got bored—the variety of the artwork and how you interact with it is brilliant.”

The Many Charms of Shizuoka

The Many Charms of Shizuoka

Arriving at Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station, Émile was amazed by the sheer number of commuters to be found during rush hour. From Shinagawa, he took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Shizuoka. It was Émile’s first time to take the Shinkansen, and he was thoroughly impressed by the train’s combination of comfort and speed.

Storied Castle
In less than an hour, he arrived at Shizuoka Station, where he met Mr. Ohashi, his guide to Sumpu Castle. On the way to the castle, Ohashi explained the history of Shizuoka, which was once called Sumpu during the Warring States Period (1467 –1600 ) and the Edo period (1603–1868). Historically, Shizuoka is well known for its connection to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Ieyasu spent his youth in Sumpu as a hostage between the ages 8 and 19, and started to build Sumpu Castle, which later served as his retirement home, in 1585 . In Shizuoka City, there are several statues of Ieyasu depicting him during different times in his life—childhood, adulthood, and during his later years. Shizuoka also is famous for mikan (Japanese mandarin oranges), and the mikan tree that Ieyasu himself planted more than 400 years ago still stands next to the statue of him as an older man.

Sumpu Castle was destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout history, and unfortunately none of the original castle buildings remain. The innermost courtyards of the former castle grounds were converted into a public park and a Japanese garden called Momijiyama Garden. The park also offers a clear view of Mt. Fuji.

Once he got to Sumpu Castle, Émile was very curious to learn some Japanese history, see how people lived during the Edo period, and find out about the battle techniques of the samurai. There was a replica of Ieyasu’s kabuto (warrior helmet) and sword in an exhibit. Émile found that the sword was quite heavy, but he was shocked to learn that Ieyasu was only 159 cm (5’2”) tall. He thought that samurai should be tall and big. He lamented, “I didn’t want to know that! They are nano samurai.”

The Many Charms of Shizuoka

A Scenic Hotel
Afterwards, Émile dropped in at Nippondaira Hotel. Located on the Nihondaira Plateau, the hotel offers a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji and the natural surroundings of the plateau. Émile was very impressed with the architecture, and at the hotel’s restaurant he enjoyed fine cuisine prepared with local ingredients—seasonal vegetables and fish—and served alongside fresh green tea produced in Shizuoka.

The Many Charms of Shizuoka

Getting in Touch with Nature
The final destination in Shizuoka was Kakegawa Kachoen, a theme park where you can enjoy seasonal flowers in full bloom and spend time with various kinds of birds. You can take pictures with an owl on your arm, pet a penguin while it’s sitting on your lap, watch a bird show, and feed beautiful parrots. As soon as Émile picked up some food, several birds flew and landed on his shoulders, head, and hands to get a snack. Émile enjoyed their company and called out to the birds, “Émile’s Restaurant, open 24/7!”

What surprised him the most was the secretary bird named “Kick-kun” (Mr. Kick). The bird, which is originally from Africa, hunts its prey in its natural habitat by stamping with its long feet. Kick-kun showed off his athletic prowess by kicking a rugby ball, which really impressed Émile, who said, “I may borrow him for the game! He’ll play well.”

On his way back to Tokyo, Émile said that his trip had really been changing his views about Japan. “People tend to think of Japan as being filled with big cities, high tech, and manga culture. But there’s so much more to see!”

History, Industry, and Cuisine Meet in Nagoya

History, Industry, and Cuisine Meet in Nagoya

Justin visited Nagoya, a city in Aichi Prefecture.
Nogoya is located at the center of the main island of Japan, and 2.32 million people are living there.
There are many historic places there, and also it has played an important role in Japan’s industrial society, as you will read below.

The first stop on Justin’s busy day was the picturesque Nagoya Castle. Originally built in 1612 by the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, it was the residence of the Owari Tokugawa family until 1868 . After being mostly destroyed during World War II, the castle was rebuilt in 1959. It offers impressive views of the Nagoya cityscape, and the golden shachi (mythical creatures with the head of a tiger and the body of a carp) that adorn its roof are a symbol of the city. The castle is located in Meijo Park, which is a popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in the spring.

The castle is currently under renovation at least until 2022 , but close to Nagoya Castle is the Honmaru Goten Palace, whose rooms are decorated with stunning traditional Japanese paintings. After his visit, Justin said that he was most impressed with the rich designs of the Ichi-no-ma and Jodan-no-ma rooms.

History, Industry, and Cuisine Meet in Nagoya

Next up was a visit to a ramen restaurant for a heaping bowl of miso garlic ramen and several plates of gyoza. After this filling meal, it was time for a fascinating visit to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology. The famous automaker got its start making looms, and on his tour of the museum, Justin learned how the company developed more and more sophisticated looms before making the transition to motor vehicles. “This was really fascinating,” Justin said.

History, Industry, and Cuisine Meet in Nagoya

It was then time to move to Toyota, a city close to Nagoya, where the City of Toyota Stadium is located. Justin met up with an enthusiastic group of rugby fans close to the stadium before heading into the stadium to watch the game between Wales and Georgia.

After the match, Justin went back to Nagoya to drop in at a famous local izakaya (a Japanese pub) that is famous for its chicken wings, where he had a delicious evening feast. “These might be the best wings that I’ve ever had!” Justin exclaimed. Justin ate up about 50 chicken wings!

And with that, Justin’s visit to Nagoya came to a close. See you next time in Shizuoka!

Exploring the Traditions of Scenic Kyushu

Exploring the Traditions of Scenic Kyushu

Next on the Japan Sports Journey was Kyushu—Japan’s third-largest island—and this time Émile Ntamack, former Stade Toulousain player and veteran of the French national rugby team, was along for the ride. Kyushu is home to historical shrines and traditional Japanese hot springs, and landscapes that range from vast gorges to stunning coastlines. It was Émile’s first time on the island and he was excited to do and see everything Kyushu had to offer.

Fabulous Fukuoka
Émile began his Kyushu experience in Fukuoka, the largest city in Kyushu. The city has a long history of international trade, and today Fukuoka is a global business center that attracts foreigners from all over the world.

On his way to Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium to watch the France–USA match, Émile met and mingled with fans in Fukuoka’s popular Hakata Ward and ate authentic wagyu (Japanese beef) skewers. A local performer dressed like a ninja gave Émile lessons in throwing shuriken (ninja stars) and wielding a sword.

After France’s 33–9 victory, Émile was overjoyed. He moved on to Nakasu Kawabata, a neighborhood brimming with historical significance. Home to Hakata’s famous Kushida Shrine, the area is a base for the culture of Hakata. Here, you’ll not only find Canal City, a modern entertainment complex, but also the city’s oldest shopping district. In Nakasu Kawabata, Émile celebrated at the local yatai (food stall) called KENZO. He ate a full Fukuoka-style feast featuring motsunabe (a hot pot of beef or pork intestines), yaki ramen (fried noodles), and yakitori (grilled chicken skewers).

Cultural Wonders
Following the sporting excitement, Émile was ready to take it slower and learn more about Fukuoka’s history and culture. He visited the Munakata Taisha Shrines near the sacred island of Okinoshima—a World Heritage Site and a notable site of worship in Japan. It was a particularly fortunate day for Émile, as the Munakata Shrine Autumn Grand Festival was under way. Émile was lucky enough to see urayasu no mai, a sacred dance that is performed only once per year. He then climbed 100 steps to the island’s most holy place and took a quiet moment to pray.

After a quick Japanese-Italian lunch at A.PUTEC FLEGO, Émile headed to Uminonakamichi Seaside Park for a bit of cycling. The park is surrounded by Hakata Bay and seasonal flowers can be found there all year long. There is even a petting zoo there that is home to a family of capybara. Before the day ended, Émile was invited to dinner at Nihon Bare, a local favorite. Like Émile, the owner is a former rugby player and current coach, so they had a lot to talk about.

On the next day, the weather was nice enough to visit Ohori Park, with its peaceful trail that runs around a picturesque pond. It’s also home to the Fukuoka Art Museum. Émile remarked, “Ohori Park is so nice and relaxing, and the pond is beautiful—it’s a perfect spot where families can spend a day.” Later, Émile visited Kego Shrine and Dazaifu Tenmangu. Kego Shrine is a shrine where local lords used to worship, and has played a part in historical battles. Meanwhile, Dazaifu Tenmangu is one of the most important Tenmangu shrines (shrines dedicated to scholarship) in Japan. Of all the shrines that Émile visited, this one was his favorite.

Shops and stalls lined the roads leading to Dazaifu Tenmangu, and Émile ate manju called umegaemochi — traditional sweets made from wheat dough. He also took an omikuji—a paper fortune that tells you whether your luck is bad or not. Before ending his shrine-hopping trip in Fukuoka, Émile made one last prayer—for France’s victory over Tonga—and began the next leg of his trip.

Exploring the Traditions of Scenic Kyushu

Natural Wonders
Émile was off to the city of Beppu in Oita Prefecture. Located between the sea and the mountains, Beppu is one of Japan’s most famous onsen (hot spring) towns. While there are plenty of onsens for bathing, the city also has seven major geothermal hot springs—which the locals refer to as “the seven hells of Beppu.” As the name implies, these “hell” hot springs are only for viewing! Émile said he couldn’t believe how the hot springs looked and contrasted with their surroundings.

For Émile’s final stop in Kyushu, he traveled to Kumamoto Prefecture, which is famous for its centuries-old castle, fresh fruit, and the volcanoes of Aso. It was here that the group took a cycling trip to visit Mt. Komezuka, a young volcano that is only about 3,000 years old.

While looking out at the rolling farm hills and powerful views of the caldera, Émile said, “T his is s uch a thrilling experience! The scenery is beautiful and the surrounding forest is so peaceful and relaxing. I can’t believe that about 50,000 people live inside this enormous caldera, coexisting with the volcano over many generations. Although it was a tough ride up, thanks to our electric bikes we could enjoy the ride without too much trouble. I’d definitely recommend it to everyone!”

Exploring the Traditions of Scenic Kyushu

After a quick lunch of Akaushi with rice at a restaurant near the Aso Volcano Museum Center, Émile took a 30-minute hike to the summit of Mt. Kishimadake. At the top, they could see Mt. Takadake, the tallest mountain in the region. After hiking back down the mountain, a surprise was waiting for Émile— a horseback ride at the Aso Kusasenri Riding Club. Émile said he was blown away by the sizes of Kumamoto’s horses. Like a true rugby star, he chose the biggest horse—Ai-chan , who weighs in at 900 kilograms.

On his final night in Kyushu, Émile enjoyed local sake and kaiseki (a course meal), which included sashimi, local steamed vegetables, and grilled Kumamoto beef. Émile was delighted with every new dish. “The food I’m having simply gets better and better,” he said. “There are so many varieties and so many flavors: the food is delicious and goes well with the sake the manager recommended!” Finally, after such a long and exciting day, Émile enjoyed a foot and body massage at the hotel before retiring to bed.

That’s it for Émile’s journey in Kyushu—an island filled with culture, nature, and adventure. Follow them next time as their journey continues in Nagoya.

Getting Away from the City—In Tokyo

Getting Away from the City—In Tokyo

Justin’s Japan Sports Journey took him away from the city side in Tokyo, but this time he wasn’t traveling alone. Former Wallabies Mark Gerrard (fullback, center, wing, flyhalf), scrum-halves Sam Cordingley and Sam Payne, and general manager Lochie Lawrence joined him on his adventure.

Stepping into the sumo ring
In Mitaka city, the lucky guys experienced one of Japan’s oldest sports: sumo. They suited up in traditional mawashi and were given authentic training by former wrestlers at the RAIEN Sumo Experience, which offers foreign visitors and residents a rare chance to enter the sacred dohyo (sumo ring) usually reserved only for practitioners of the ancient ritual. After a crash course in the basics, the crew put on a demonstration.

They wondered if rugby players could benefit from this physically demanding sport. “This would be good training for some of the positions like the front-rowers,” Sam said while catching his breath. Likewise, Mark and Lochie thought that the sumo experience wasn’t easy, but it was a lot of fun. “It’s absolutely something you have to do if you visit Japan,” they said.

Getting Away from the City—In Tokyo

On the Trail in Okutama
Venturing further, they were surprised to learn there is a fair share of countryside in the Tokyo Metropolis. The town of Okutama is located about two hours from Shinjuku Station and features lush forests, tall mountain peaks, and crystal-clear rivers. Known for its traditional onsen, scenic fishing spots, and natural beauty, Okutama is a popular quick getaway for Tokyoites.

Their first stop was Kobayashi House— a Japanese-style home in the mountains where locals from the Hinohara village produced charcoal and other goods. The residence was a vital checkpoint for weary travelers.

Centuries later, the traditional architecture has stood the test of time and Kobayashi House is a designated Important Cultural Property that overlooks beautiful peaks and is surrounded by flowing streams and rolling hills. It’s a historic example of how people lived harmoniously among nature.

Justin said that they felt privileged to see the traditions and history of Japan and that the trek up the mountain was well worth it. “There was an immediate sense of calm and tranquility when we finished,” he said. After learning more about the history of Kobayashi House, the guys took a moment to enjoy the view and eat onigiri (rice balls) and karaage (fried chicken).

More details of Kobayashi House:
https://www.gotokyo.org/en/spot/1022/index.html

Tired and still hungry, the group made their way to Kabutoya—a 300-year-old inn next to the Minamiaki River. At the entrance, the staff surprised them by jumping out, dressed as ninja. Justin and the others were taught ninja hand signs—which they joyfully continued to use throughout the rest of their journey in their photos.

After spending a bit of time in the inn’s onsen, the crew donned yukata and ate a spread of locally produced delicacies. They stuffed themselves with fresh fish caught from the streams surrounding Hinohara and vegetables grown in the family-run inn’s farm. “The fish was so good I practically ate the bones,” Mark said.

The feast continued with a barbecue, featuring beef and local chicken. Absolutely stuffed, they ended the night by merrily drinking regional beers and watching Scotland thrash Samoa 34–0 on TV. They all agreed it was a one-of-a-kind experience. “You can’t do this anywhere else,” Justin said.

More details of Kabutoya:
http://www.kabutoya.net/english/index.html

Getting Away from the City—In Tokyo

Taking the Plunge
In the morning, the group went for a bit of outdoors fun with Canyons Japan, which leads adventure trips in various locations. The guys met up with their guide, Moana, who showed them the ropes and led them on a canyoning excursion through Okutama’s dramatic limestone peaks and rushing waters.

The crystal-clear water was completely refreshing, but the course offered plenty of thrills too. The guys had the option of taking natural slides down into the water, but they opted to take the five-meter plunge instead.

On their way to Okutama’s Earth Garden restaurant for steaks and hamburgers, the group met up with former French national team player Émile Ntamack (center, wing, fullback). This was his first trip to Japan, and Émile said he was amazed that such natural beauty could be found so close to urban Tokyo.

For their final stop, they were invited by the local brew factory VERTERE to taste exclusive craft beers. VERTERE cans and bottles its own beers, but they can only be found locally. Beers on tap included a chai tea latte stout and a spicy Belgian wheat. Most of the guys began with the Norway Cream—a smooth and sweet mild ale, but the winner was the chai tea latte stout, according to Sam and Lochie.

Looking back over the past two days, the group said they had been constantly and pleasantly surprised. “We got to experience things regular tourists can’t if they just stay in the city,” Justin said.

Stay tuned for the next stage of the rugby journey: Kyushu. We’ll see you there!

Culture, Cuisine and Bonsai in Saitama

Culture, Cuisine and Bonsai in Saitama

Justin’s next stop on his tour of Japan was Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo.

First was a visit to Kawagoe, known as “Little Edo” because parts of the city preserve the ambiance of the Edo period (1603–1867). To honor the feeling of old-time Japan, some tourists wear kimonos and stroll around the historical area near Kurazukuri Street, the main thoroughfare.

One of Kawagoe’s most celebrated restaurants is Hayashiya, which specializes in eel and has been open for nearly 200 years. Justin dropped in for a delicious bite, and he loved the rich, high-quality eel and its sweet, fragrant sauce.

After a pleasant stroll around Kawagoe, Justin headed to Omiya. He checked in at the famous Higashiyama ryokan (Japanese inn), which has been in operation for more than 110 years. The ryokan is also known for its restaurant, which serves kappo cuisine—a multi-course meal decided on only by the chef and that is made of seasonal ingredients. Justin sat down to a splendid kappo dinner. Two of his favorite dishes were the chawanmushi (savory egg custard) and the mini-shabu shabu (thin slices of meat cooked quickly by swirling them in boiling water).

Culture, Cuisine and Bonsai in Saitama

The next morning, Justin visited the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum. The world’s first publicly run museum dedicated to bonsai has been drawing enthusiastic visitors from Japan and around the world since 2010. Nearby is the Omiya Bonsai Village, which was established about 100 years ago when a group of artisans from Tokyo moved there. Six of the original 30 bonsai gardens are still open, and some are real gems, including such miniature trees that are nearly 1,000 years old. Needless to say, Justin was thoroughly impressed by both the museum and the gardens. He remarked, “It’s amazing that people take care of these plants for such a long time. All this effort to maintain such beauty is really inspiring.”

Culture, Cuisine and Bonsai in Saitama

The final stop in Omiya was the Musashi Ichinomiya Hikawa Shrine. Musashi Ichinomiya is the most important shrine of the 280 Hikawa Shrines found around Japan. Dedicated to Susanoo, the Shinto god of the sea and storms, it used to be the main shrine of what was called Musashi Province, a region that included the greater Tokyo area, most of Saitama Prefecture, and part of Kanagawa Prefecture. The shrine also gives Omiya its name—in Japanese, Omiya means “great shrine.”

Reflecting on his visit to Omiya, Justin said, “It’s great to visit a city where you can feel Japanese history—and it’s within an hour from Tokyo.”

And with that, it was time for Justin to move on to the next leg in his journey: the Tama area of western Tokyo.

Great Rugby, Food and Drink in Kamaishi!

Great Rugby, Food and Drink in Kamaishi!

Justin Harrison is general manager of the Classic Wallabies, the alumni of Australia’s national rugby union team, where he played lock forward.

In late September, Justin visited Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, to catch some rugby action, sample delicious local food, and take in the amazing sights.

On the way to Kamaishi, he stopped by the city of Tono, where he enjoyed craft beer made from fresh water and hops from Iwate. He also got to sample some local vegetables, which he said were incredibly good—like a gift from Mother Nature.

After checking in a hotel in Kamaishi, Justin was in the mood for sushi, so he dropped in at one of Kamaishi’s best-known restaurants. Iwate is renowned for incredibly fresh fish, so the sushi was truly excellent. It was served with fragrant and tasty sake from Hamachidori, a local brewery. Justin finished the pleasant evening with a walking tour of Kamaishi bars, where friendly locals greeted him with enthusiasm.

Great Rugby, Food and Drink in Kamaishi!

The next day, Justin visited Kamaishi’s Fanzone, where he met many excited rugby supporters who posed for photos with him as they waited for the afternoon match to start.
Staff members at the Fanzone were welcoming guests with big smiles. Mr. Suzuki from the Office of the Commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency was also visiting the Fanzone, which was getting guests excited for the upcoming games played in Kamaishi. At the Fanzones, you can enjoy local food as well as touch rugby; they are great places to experience rugby and regional culture.

He then went to Dairen Ramen for a local favorite: rugger ramen. This dish originated in the 1980s, a period when Kamaishi’s rugby team, then called Nippon Steel Kamaishi, won the national rugby championship several years in a row. Rugger ramen is served in a spicy miso broth with plenty of garlic. It is topped with an egg—shaped like a rugby ball—and, keeping with the rugby theme, diners can choose thick noodles (known as “forwards”) or thin noodles (“backs”).

After lunch, there was a match between Fiji and Uruguay, at Kamaishi Unosumai Memorial Stadium, which was built last year on a site where schools were destroyed by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011. With a fighting spirit, Uruguay pulled off a historic shock by winning the thrilling match 30–27. It was a great day to watch the rugby match—the sky was perfectly blue, and there was a fresh breeze blowing. Justin said, “When I visited Kamaishi last time, the stadium was still under construction. Today I was touched to see the completed stadium—it’s majestic and I’m very excited that we could watch the game here.”

Great Rugby, Food and Drink in Kamaishi!

After another evening in Kamaishi, Justin visited the Hamachidori brewery, which means he got the second opportunity to enjoy the taste in this journey. Hamachidori produces some 130,000 bottles of sake each year, 90 percent of it for the local market. So Justin really appreciated this rare chance to sample this beloved regional drink.

And with that, Justin was off to his next stop: Saitama. See you there!

An Australian Rugby Legend Visits Sapporo

An Australian Rugby Legend Visits Sapporo

In Japan’s beautiful northern prefecture of Hokkaido, former star of the Australian national rugby team and current general manager of the Classic Wallabies, Justin Harrison, spent the weekend exploring the culture, tasting the food, and meeting the locals. Justin was looking forward to his journey. Arriving late in Sapporo, Justin spent his first evening catching up with old teammates—Sterling Mortlock, Lote Tuqiri, and Matt Cockbain—who were visiting Japan for RWC. The vets shared drinks, stories, and opinions on Australia’s Saturday game against Fiji at Sapporo Stadium. The next day, Justin visited the rugby Fanzone near Sapporo TV Tower in the popular Odori Park to meet up with hundreds of visiting Australia fans. While at the tower, Justin recalled that he had come to Sapporo a year before to scout the stadium and shared history he had learned. He particularly admired William S. Clark. Clark, an American professor and leader in agricultural education, was invited by the Japanese government to Sapporo to establish the Sapporo Agricultural College—known today as Hokkaido University. Today, Clark is celebrated for modernizing Sapporo, and is familiar to local people. His statue at Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill even wore the rugby jersey of the Japanese team on September 19th-20th!

An Australian Rugby Legend Visits Sapporo

That evening, and to celebrate Australia’s 39–21 victory over Fiji, Justin visited the Rugby Bar at a hotel in Sapporo. The bar has installed a big-screen TV so that guests can watch RWC matches, and is serving all drinks—from beer to cocktails—for ¥500 each during the tournament.

Later that evening, they went to Irish pub Brian Brew. Of course, Brian Brew serves drinks, but it’s also a popular tourist spot thanks to their fish and chips, grilled steak, and meat pies. Aussie and Japanese fans alike were celebrating Australia’s win at the pub and were absolutely thrilled to meet the former players. Justin and Tuqiri took pictures with fans and signed the pub’s famous wall of rugby legends before ending the night.

An Australian Rugby Legend Visits Sapporo

The next day, Justin wanted to try one of Hokkaido’s famous dishes: jingisukan, or grilled lamb. It was his first time trying it, and he really loved the taste. Before leaving Sapporo on Sunday to follow the Wallabies for their journey across Japan, Justin headed away for a bit of quiet in the city’s award-winning Moerenuma Park. The weather was perfect for viewing the scenery and contemporary architecture, including the glass pyramid, Hidamari. He was amazed by this magnificent spot where art and nature come together.
Justin agreed that this place was perfect for the families to have a picnic.
“There’s a lot of kids here now, and Moms and Dads, and everyone has got a smile on their face. They’re clearly enjoying the fusion of the outlook and nature, and that’s one of the things we know about Japanese culture too. Enjoying what’s around you. The surrounding and finding peace and tranquility wherever you are.”

That’s all for Sapporo. Where will Justin go next?

Cool prizes for sharing your memories of Japan!

Cool prizes for sharing your memories of Japan!

 Campaign Overview
In this amazing new campaign, we're giving out so many great prizes to some lucky winners, selected from applicants via Facebook! The rules are simple: Post your photo/video in the comment section, and collect Likes! Campaign runs from September 20th to November 2nd. In this campaign, we have four themes. You can win exciting prizes determined by each one.

Cool prizes for sharing your memories of Japan!

 Cool Prizes!
You can win these unique prizes! Fancy lacquered chopsticks and rugby ball-shaped chopstick rests, which were made specially for this campaign. Realistic food replicas will be selected by one of our rugby legends reporters, from a food replica shop during his stay in Japan. Imagine showing off these replicas of tasty food you experienced in Japan! There are even custom-made rugby-themed Ukiyo-e, an awesome blend of traditional art style and modern sport! There are miscellaneous autographed Tokyo souvenirs jointly developed by Tokyo Metropolitan Government and local businesses, and for hard-core sports fans the most exciting prize might be the signed rugby jerseys and polo shirts!
Check out this URL for more details!
https://www.sportsjourney.jp/photo_campaign

Cool prizes for sharing your memories of Japan!

 These prizes are super rare, so to get your hands on them, you’ll need to sign up with your best photo or video! It’s not hard - you’re going to take photos and videos anyway, so why not share here what you loved about Japan? You’ll get a chance to win some SUBARASHII (WONDERFUL) prizes! Go for the win!

Welcome to Rugby World Cup 2019 Action

Welcome to Rugby World Cup 2019 Action

Rugby World Cup 2019 Starts Today!
 
 Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off today with Japan playing Russia in Tokyo.
Over the course of 48 matches, 20 teams will play in 12 stadiums to determine who will claim the title of world champion!
Don’t miss this chance to be a part of history and enjoy everything Rugby World Cup 2019 has to offer here in Japan.

 
Follow All the Action
 
 Throughout Rugby World Cup 2019, this website will continue to provide updates on the reporters’ activities and useful information.
Stay tuned and keep updated.
As the reporters, three former rugby players, Justin Harrison, Andy Gomarsall and Émile Ntamack are about to come to Japan!
 For more information about the reporters, please take a look at the article posted on September 6th.
Also, on this website you can find the information of the stadiums, the sports bars where you can share your passion for sports with others, and several useful tips to travel around Japan.
 
 Check out our Facebook page too!
https://www.facebook.com/Japan-Sports-Journey

"Experience Kyushu- The Kyushu Matsuri Festival"

"Experience Kyushu- The Kyushu Matsuri Festival"

 Kyushu is Japan’s third largest island , and located in the southwest of the country. Primarily a mountainous region, this area is well known for its natural beauty and idyllic landscapes, active volcanoes, waterfalls, natural hot springs, white sand beaches, great outdoor activities and well preserved castles. Most people are familiar with Nagasaki which was one of the few cities open during about 200 year isolation of Japan but there are many other great places to visit; such as The bustling city of Fukuoka, which is well-known for its nightlife and many outdoor food stalls. Other areas are noted for various types of porcelain, historical events and several famous delicacies that shows Kyushu’s vibrant international culture.

"Experience Kyushu- The Kyushu Matsuri Festival"

 One of the best ways to experience everything Kyushu has to offer is at the various local festivals steeped in rich cultural significance, great food and drinks, and original Japanese activities. Over 50 festivals are held in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi areas during the festival season from September 20th - Nov 3rd. There are several events and festivals in Fukuoka Prefecture including: the Kokura Castle Festival, the star gazing party for the HOKUTO-NO-MIZUKUMI , the Kanda Kohzaki Yamakasaka Competition, and Saga International Balloon Fiesta to name a few. Sample some of Japan’s best sake from 20 different breweries at the Yuda hot springs sake festival held in October In Yamaguchi Prefecture. Or perhaps enjoy the Haga Kimono Week where you can rent a traditional Japanese Kimono - and have your photo taken while walking in the classic cityscape. If you love traditional dancing you’ll want to try the Kagura Festival in Kumamoto or Yokagura traditional theatrical dance at the Miyazaki Mythology 7 Days . Other festivals and events are located all over Kyushu and Yamaguchi.

"Experience Kyushu- The Kyushu Matsuri Festival"

 There are so many festivals during the festival season that it is impossible to highlight them all, but one great website to keep you updated on all the area has to offer, is Matsuri Kyushu. The site offers news and a great map with links to essential information for all the festivals in the Kyushu and Yamaguchi areas. It is intuitively organized to make your visit memorable. Kyushu has many charms such as warm climate and warm people, rich cultural heritage, history, and natural beauty. The matsuri festival season is a great way to sample these charms of Kyushu.
For more details: https://matsuri.welcomekyushu.com/

Travel Japan with Rugby Greats

Travel Japan with Rugby Greats

Once Fierce Rivals, Now Adventure Buddies

 Three former rugby players from Australia, the UK, and France who used to compete ruthlessly on the pitch are about to share their unique experiences as they travel to Rugby World Cup 2019 host cities here in Japan.

Here’s some introductions
 • Justin Harrison is a former lock forward from Australia who has played with the Plus500 Brumbies, the New South Wales Waratahs, Ulster Rugby, and Bath Rugby. He also played for Australia in Rugby World Cup 2003. He is now the general manager for the Classic Wallabies. Active in charity activities, Harrison has visited Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture and Sapporo in Hokkaido Prefecture to play rugby with children.

 • Andy Gomarsall MBE is a former scrum half from the UK. He played for a number of professional teams, including the London Wasps, Gloucester Rugby, and Harlequin Football Club. He played for England when the team won Rugby World Cup 2003 and went to the finals in Rugby World Cup 2007. He was a co-commentator for ITV’s coverage of Rugby World Cup 2011.

 • Émile Ntamack, who hails from France, played center, wing, and fullback for Stade Toulousain and the French national team; he has won 46 caps. He represented France in Rugby World Cups 1995 and 1999, and coached the French U20s to a championship in 2006. His son, Romain Ntamack, plays fly half for Stade Toulousain and the French national rugby union team.

 
Experience the many regions of Japan!

 These rugby legends will be traveling to the host cities including Tokyo, to enjoy various activities while supporting their home teams.
Transportation system is well developed in Japan, so you can easily travel from Tokyo to other cities!

These are just a few of the things that these rugby legends will experience:
 • Paying a visit to Japanese traditional fighters: they’ll train with Sumo wrestlers and eat traditional Sumo food after their training session.
 • Canyoning at Okutama, which is famous for its nature in Tokyo
 • Watching and cheering for their favorite teams while mingling and drinking with local sports fans at sports bars.
 • Hitting must-see spots in Yokohama, where the final match will take place.
 • Enjoying what Hokkaido has to offer: fresh seafood, beer, and more!

Travel Japan with Rugby Greats

 
Come on to Japan Sports Journey Facebook!

 If you’re looking for sports and fun athletic activities in Japan, you should definitely check these three rugby legends! You can follow their adventures during their stay in Japan—where they’re going and what they’re doing, eating, and trying—through their updates not only on this NEWS page, but also on our official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Japan-Sports-Journey
Join the journey with us!

How to get to Tokyo Stadium from Shinjuku Station

How to get to Tokyo Stadium from Shinjuku Station

 One of the main venues for the upcoming Rugby World Cup is Tokyo Stadium. It is located just outside central Tokyo, a short train ride from Shinjuku station. Shinjuku station is one of the busiest transportation hubs in the world and can be a bit daunting to navigate, but if you take your time it’s not so difficult. Here I will guide you on your way to Tokyo Stadium from the station.

How to get to Tokyo Stadium from Shinjuku Station

 Shinjuku Station is serviced by many different railways but to reach Tokyo Stadium you'll need to take the Keiō Line to Tobitakyū Station. To get to the Keiō Line from the JR Line head for the South Exit. Be careful because there is also a South-East and a New South Exit! Once out of the South Exit, look to your right and you will see a sign for the Odakyu and Keiō lines. As you follow the signs, on your right will be a sign for “Mosaic Street”, next to that, on the left is the passageway to the Keiō Line. Navigate your way down the stairs and passageway. When you reach the bottom of the stairs, to your right is the Keiō Line ticket gate. Proceed to platform 2 or 3 to catch the Special Express or the Semi-Special Express.
There are many trains you can take to reach the stadium, but I suggest taking either the Special Express or the Semi-Special Express to Chōfu station for speed and convenience. The ride only takes about 15 minutes. When you reach Chōfu Station you will need to transfer to the Local train or the Rapid train, from there ride 2 stops to Tobitakyū Station. On days when games are held at Tokyo Stadium, the Special Express and the Semi-Special Express trains will stop at Tobitakyū station before and after the game. For more details such as departure and arrival times, please ask the station attendants.

How to get to Tokyo Stadium from Shinjuku Station

 From the station, Tokyo Stadium is a short 5-minute walk from the north exit. Once you reach Tobitakyū Station exit from the North Gate and go down the stairs. Cross the street in front of you and turn right on the main road. Keep walking straight until you reach the staircase on the street that leads to the stadium. Walk up the stairs and you’re there!

Explore Japan during Rugby World Cup 2019

Explore Japan during Rugby World Cup 2019

 Rugby World Cup 2019 is on its way, and with matches taking place at 12 venues around Japan—from Hokkaido to Kyushu—it’s a perfect opportunity to see some great sports and explore Japan. Here are two regions of the country where you’ll be able to do both.

Explore Japan during Rugby World Cup 2019

Kyushu

 Perhaps best known for its hot springs, volcanoes and bountiful nature, Kyushu will be hosting Rugby World Cup 2019 matches at venues in Fukuoka, Oita and Kumamoto Prefectures. If you plan to watch a game in Kyushu, here are a few must-see travel destinations near the stadiums.

 Fukuoka City, the largest city in Fukuoka Prefecture and Kyushu, is home to the famous Hakata ramen, and historical castles and UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Munakata Taisha Shrine. The city offers a mix of traditional and modern elements, giving visitors the chance to explore the Canal City Hakata shopping center, Fukuoka Tower, and Fukuoka Castle.

 After around a 40-minute ride by Shinkansen from Fukuoka City, you’ll arrive in Kumamoto station. Celebrated around the country for its bear mascot, Kumamon, Kumamoto is home to historical and natural sites which include the Suizenji Jojuen (the Suizenji Park), Mount Aso—one of the largest active volcanos in Japan—and Kumamoto Castle. Though the castle was damaged in a 2016 earthquake, tourists still flock there for sightseeing.

 While many Prefectures of Kyushu are known for their hot springs, Beppu and Yufu City in Oita Prefecture—which is known as the “onsen Prefecture,”—offer an onsen experience that is a cut above. At these two cities, visitors can choose between sunamushi (hot beach sand bathing) and traditional hot springs.

 For more information about what to do in Kyushu, visit https://www.kyushuandtokyo.org

Explore Japan during Rugby World Cup 2019

Tohoku

 Should your rugby journey take you up to Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture, there’s plenty to see around Tohoku as well. Perhaps the region is well known for its five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Chuson-ji and Motsu-ji temples. Iwate has an endless array of travel spots.

 During the summer, Jodogahama Beach, part of the Sanriku Fukko National Park, is one of the most iconic beaches travelers visit. Widely known for its scenic beauty, the beach is listed among Japan’s 100 Best Beaches .

 Apart from its beaches, hiking trails and lakes, visitors can explore one of Japan’s three great limestone caves , Ryusendo Cave. And that’s just Iwate Prefecture—Tohoku has plenty to offer the curious traveler.

 See what else you can do in Tohoku! Go to https://www.tohokuandtokyo.org.

 Finally, if you’re interested in exploring even more of Japan, you should definitely check out https://www.tourism-alljapanandtokyo.org/?lang=en. It’s full of travel tips, information about Japanese festivals, and listings of specialty shops in Tokyo where you can buy goods that come from all around the country.

The Perfect Way to Enjoy Tokyo during Rugby World Cup 2019

The Perfect Way to Enjoy Tokyo during Rugby World Cup 2019

Fanzones

 With Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019 just around the corner, locations have been set up where rugby fans around Japan can come together to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime experience. They’re called Fanzones, and they’re event spaces where rugby fans can enjoy RWC2019 matches together.

 If you’re looking for a place to watch the matches live, or prefer an energized crowd to celebrate with, then the Fanzones are definitely for you. Located in each of the cities where RWC2019 matches will take place, the Fanzones will feature a big screen to watch the live matches, rugby-themed activities, food and drinks, and special events that celebrate each area’s local culture.

The Perfect Way to Enjoy Tokyo during Rugby World Cup 2019

 There are two areas in Tokyo which have Fanzones. The Chofu area and Yurakucho area.

 The Fanzone at Chofu station is just a minute away from the Hiroba exit at Chofu Station. The Fanzone at Tokyo Sports Square is just around a minute walk away from the Kyobashi exit of Yurakucho Station. However, if you are arriving from the subway, exit D9 will take you to where you need to go.

To find out more about the Fanzones, visit https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/fanzones/

The Perfect Way to Enjoy Tokyo during Rugby World Cup 2019

If you get lost or do not know what to do in Tokyo

 If you get lost or do not know what to do during your stay in Tokyo, there are around three hundred ‘Tokyo Tourists Information Desks’ and five ‘Tokyo Tourist Information Centers’ that will be a great help for you. The former ones are the information desks officially approved by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The latter ones are run by Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and they are Tokyo Metropolitan Government (1st floor of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building No.1), Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (3rd floor of Busta Shinjuku), Haneda Airport (2nd floor of Haneda Airport International Terminal), Keisei Ueno (in front of the ticket gates at Keisei Ueno Station), and Tama (3rd floor of Ecute Tachikawa). You can find a lot of great information about Tokyo and all of Japan! They also offer free Wi-Fi and useful information about accommodation facilities in Tokyo and Tokyo Tourism Volunteers.

For more information about Tokyo Tourist Information Centers and their services, visit
https://www.gotokyo.org/en/plan/tourist-info-center/index.html

Find your best restaurants in Japan

Find your best restaurants in Japan

 In Japan you can find some of the best cuisine from all over the world. Japan is said to be the country with the highest density of restaurants with around 250 per person! Not only that but often times eateries are very small and well hidden. It can be quite overwhelming finding the best restaurants to suit your particular taste and preference. You definitely will need some guidance and proper planning otherwise you end up overwhelmed fairly quickly.

Find your best restaurants in Japan

 LIVE JAPAN is a great multilingual resource provided by GURUNAVI, a local famous curated gourmet navigation site, for planning your foodie adventure. The website has great content on many other topics including manners, lodging and shopping but today I want to focus on their Eating page. You will find many ways to search for that special place, from a category listing of types of food or cuisine like sushi or nabe, to simply browsing articles, latest hot spots, food events, coupons, and popular restaurants. The feature I like the most is the handy search feature where you can browse by location and categories such as: Japanese cuisine, cafes, all-you-can-eat, seafood, etc. The site is filled with great photos and brief but helpful info, making it a convenient guide for food and many other topics while visiting Japan.

More information: https://livejapan.com/en/go-eating/

Find your best restaurants in Japan

 My second suggestion only deals with food, called EAT TOKYO, a multilingual site provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The approach on this site is simple, choosing to focus on two main factors, Location and Type of Cuisine. You can search one or the other or combine both. You can choose a specific location by name or search nearby allowing access to your current location. There are also search features for smoke free restaurants and coupons. There is also some added content about popular Japanese foods and, helpful Manga concerning specific food culture and manners, that will prepare you for a uniquely Japanese dining experience.

More information: http://www.menu-tokyo.jp/
 
 Although you can find many websites with similar features and content these two suggestions offer a simpler way to browse and choose a suitable eatery. But the more important thing is that they are well curated content assuring quality choices. Furthermore, they are from reliable sources. I hope these sites help you to avoid the overwhelming choices travelers experience when it comes to food in Japan.

Taking Tours in Tokyo

Taking Tours in Tokyo

 With Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on their way, Tokyo’s government is making it easier than ever for foreign visitors to experience the city. A selection of free (or budget-friendly) multilingual tours are available. In this article, we will introduce you to Tokyo Volunteer Guides, which can help you quite a few ways you can explore the city.
 
 If you prefer a tour without the stress of navigating your way around Tokyo by yourself, then the 13 routes that the site lists are an ideal choice. Available in seven languages—English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean—the tours can take you through 13 different Tokyo experiences. Below are four routes to get you inspired.

Taking Tours in Tokyo

Route 1: Shinjuku Gyoen and Tea Ceremony
For ¥4,410, you can explore the famous Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, a century-old landmark. Shinjuku Gyoen is home to three gardens that draw inspiration from French, English, and Japanese culture. The regal tour ends at the Imperial Hotel, where participants can take part in a tea ceremony.

Route 2: Explore Shinjuku
This free guided tour of Shinjuku—one of Tokyo’s busiest areas—takes participants to trendy shopping spots and food stalls. Visitors can even visit the Hanazono Shrine, a venerable Shinto shrine that was established in the mid-17th century.

Route 3: Explore Asakusa
Built in the seventh century, Sensoji Temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple and a must-see attraction. For ¥1,490, you can explore other sites in the vibrant neighborhood of Asakusa and visit the iconic Kaminarimon, or “Thunder Gates.”

Route 4: Sumo Museum and Edo-Tokyo Museum
If you’re interested in sumo wrestling, Japan’s national sport, then this experience is for you. This ¥2,900 guided tour includes a trip to the Sumo Museum followed by the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

 Please note that reservations for these 13 tour routes must be made at least three days in advance. And, prices may vary depending on the number of participants.

Taking Tours in Tokyo

Other Tours
 Foreign visitors can also choose to explore the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building and the 45th floor observation decks. The 40-minute tour of the government office is only available in English. And thrill-seekers can enjoy a full view of Tokyo from 202 meters above the ground, free of charge. The observation decks have cafes available.
 
 And this is just a taste of the tours that are available. For more information, go to https://www.gotokyo.org/en/guide-services/.

Great Ways to Travel around Japan

Great Ways to Travel around Japan

 Planning your travel around Japan doesn’t have to be a hassle. Here are a couple of ways to make getting around the country easy and budget friendly.

Great Ways to Travel around Japan

JAPAN RAIL PASS

 First-time visitors to Japan are often amazed at Japan’s intricate railway system. Fortunately, the JAPAN RAIL PASS makes traveling by train inexpensive and simple. The JAPAN RAIL PASS offers foreign tourists—or Japanese citizens who have lived outside of Japan for more than 10 years—, nationwide access to Japan Railways Group (JR Group) rail networks for 7, 14, or 21-day trips.The JAPAN RAIL PASS also enables you to take some Shinkansen"bullet trains" and buses.

 There are two types of the JAPAN RAIL PASS available for purchase: “Green” and “Ordinary” passes. Equivalent to first-class, the “Green” PASS allows holders to travel in spacious train cars that offer more legroom—something to consider while visiting Japan during peak tourist season. Meanwhile, the “Ordinary” PASS allows you to use regular seats on all trains.

 The price of an ordinary 7-day JR Adult PASS is ¥29,110—a bargain compared to buying individual JR train and bus tickets. Covering train and bus lines from Hokkaido to Kyushu, the JAPAN RAIL PASS is definitely a cost-effective method of getting around Japan. And, for travelers who prefer the scenic route, traveling by train is the perfect alternative to explore some of Japan’s hidden towns.

Website
http://japanrailpass.net/en/index.html

Great Ways to Travel around Japan

Air Travel in Japan

 However, if the majority of your trip involves exploring Hokkaido or Kyushu, flying may be a better option. Private airline companies provide discounted airfare to foreign visitors starting at ¥5,400—an offer that’s hard to resist.

 Depending on your travel route, planes may be faster and cheaper. A basic web search shows roundtrip airfare from Tokyo to Sapporo can roughly cost from ¥15,000 to ¥30,000. Price aside, the biggest benefit of traveling by air is saving time. A flight from Tokyo to Sapporo takes around one hour and 30-50 minutes whereas a trip by Shinkansen would take about eight hours and 15 minutes.

 Regardless of your travel plans, Japan has made it simple and affordable to travel by train or plane.

GoTokyo- The official tokyo travel guide : Your personal on the go concierge service.

GoTokyo- The official tokyo travel guide : Your personal on the go concierge service.

 You can get lost trying to find quality information while planning a trip. When it comes to Tokyo, the GoTokyo.org website ( https://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html ) has got you covered. The site has recently been intuitively redesigned to appeal to visitors. It has been written and edited by native English speakers and translated into 9 languages. The pages are laid out simply without a lot of clutter to distract and confuse the user, and links are large and easy to navigate. Articles are concise and informative and written with the foreign traveler in mind. There are links to helpful apps, a handy search feature, and you can even change the font size and color. Special features include maps and routes provided by Google Maps, a search function for accommodations and user reviews of local attractions through TripAdvisor, and photos provided by Instagram users. Content is divided into 4 main links at the top: New & Now, Area Guides, See & Do. and Plan Your Trip. Below I describe each of these site areas.

GoTokyo- The official tokyo travel guide : Your personal on the go concierge service.

 New and Now is a curated guide filled with current and seasonal events, trends and highlights, and suggestions and guides from locals. From traditional to off the beaten path, here you will be able to tap into Tokyo on every level. There are quick links to upcoming, seasonal and popular events, and an Events Calendar. Further down you'll find feature articles on trends, the Best of Tokyo, local’s suggestions, and a month by month guide to Tokyo.

 Area Guides divides Tokyo intuitively by geographic area and then popular stations in that area are listed. If you click on an area you will get links to local train stations, nearby attractions, and visitor photos. Clicking on a train station will bring you deeper into the essential info on how to get there, what to do, tips, a google map with Nearby Attractions, and a Must See guide.

 In See and Do activities can be explored by popularity, suggested, or by individual interest like: Food and Drink, Shopping, Accommodations (where you can book hotels directly through TripAdvisor), Events, and even Time Trip Tokyo which is filled with photos of Tokyo from the past! One interesting section is the Walks and Tours. Here you can find suggested areas to enjoy with a Google Maps walking guide. Also there are visitor photos linked to Instagram accounts, and reviews of attractions from TripAdvisor.

 Plan Your Trip is like having a personal travel agent with answers to questions you forgot to ask. At the top are links by interest, like Where to Stay, a few basic travel related links, a link to Suggested Walks and Tours, and a link to some handy PDFs you can download, Further down are most of the logistical sundries you'll need like: visa information, customs and courtesies, banking, useful apps, accessibility, shopping tips, free tour guides and much more.

GoTokyo- The official tokyo travel guide : Your personal on the go concierge service.

 There is so much to see and do in Tokyo. GoTokyo.org is your personal on the go concierge service to navigate this amazing area without feeling overwhelmed. GoTokyo is curated and presented by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau, bringing you the best up to date information in one location about this amazing area!

Website
https://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html

Twitter site
https://twitter.com/hashtag/gotokyo?lang=en

A monthly newsletter called Tokyo Now
https://www.gotokyo.org/english/agent/citypromotion/mailnewsletter/