Visiting Japan for the Rugby World Cup?

If you’ve been lucky enough to get tickets in the latest release, you’ll now be planning your trip to Japan. The match locations are spread across Japan and people unfamiliar with Japan may be wondering how to get around. Unfortunately the standard brand name travel guides aren’t always useful, because some of the stadiums are in less-touristed areas and aren’t mentioned in standard itineraries. Here’s some information to get you started in planning travel and sightseeing.

Getting around

Many visitors imagine whizzing all over Japan on a shinkansen (bullet train). While the shinkansen are fast, they don’t go everywhere and for longer distances, flying may be more convenient. Here’s some examples to give you an idea of travel times.


  • 7 hours by train from Tokyo, 3.5 hours from Osaka (shinkansen to Kokura, limited express to Oita), 2 hours from Fukuoka (limited express)
  • 90 minutes by air from Tokyo (JAL, ANA, Solaseed, Jetstar), 1 hour by air from Osaka (JAL, ANA)


  • 4.5 hours by train from Tokyo (shinkansen to Shin-Hanamaki, express train to Kamaishi)


  • 90 minutes by air from Tokyo (numerous airlines, including JAL, ANA, Air Do, Jetstar)
  • 8 hours by train (shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate, limited express to Sapporo)

For further details of travel to all stadiums, the Japan National Tourist Office has a special Rugby World Cup travel site full of useful information. If you’re thinking about getting a rail pass, work out whether it’s worth it first. Special tourist airfares are offered by both JAL and ANA.

Accommodation and sightseeing

There are a few things it’s useful to know about booking accommodation in Japan, including types of accommodation, Japanese reservation sites and standard business practices. With the large numbers attending Rugby World Cup matches, accommodation could be scarce in some places. It’s worth considering staying in the wider area, rather than close to the stadium. For example, for Shizuoka stadium, staying somewhere along the train line between Shizuoka and Hamamatsu stations will work. Check Hyperdia for train times and routes to make sure that the accommodation you’re looking at is easily accessible to the stadium.

With the Rugby World Cup matches happening all over Japan, it’s a great opportunity to explore beyond the standard guidebook itineraries and get to see a lesser known part of Japan. There are plenty of regional and local websites in English that will give you information about what to see and do, for example:

Kyushu covers Fukuoka, Oita and Kumamoto, or there’s a local Kumamoto tourism site, and hospitable Oita has developed a website specifically for their rugby visitors.

Kumagaya and Kamaishi have also developed websites for rugby tourists. If you want to explore around Kamaishi, the Iwate prefecture tourism website is useful.

Shizuoka is right on the main shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka, yet many tourists speed right past on the shinkansen. The Shizuoka tourism website provides information on great places to view Mt Fuji, hot springs, and food.

Useful general websites covering both famous and lesser-known places in Japan are Japan Travel by the JNTO and Japan Guide.

Feel free to ask me further questions about Japan travel here.

Would you like to receive my quarterly newsletter with the latest news for visitors, plus useful seasonal information? When you sign up, your email address will only be used to send you the newsletter.

For further information, the ebook Japan Just for You is a practical step-by-step guide to planning your trip to Japan, starting with developing your own personal trip concept. It’s now available on Apple, Amazon and Kobo, with other ebook stores to come soon.