We decided about two years ago to head to Japan for the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and had been working towards it ever since and when the time came it didn’t disappoint.
We started out time in Tokyo, staying at the Super Hotel in Akihabara, our rooms were small – think of a cabin in a cruise ship, compact but well designed. The staff were super friendly and the location ideal to let us explore nearby. There was also an in-house onsen, pillow bar and yukata’s available.
Our highlights include: Wandering through Hirajuko, Yoyogi park and the Meiji Shrine. Watching the opening Rugby World Cup match, where Japan won against Russia at the fan zone surrounded by locals. We attended our first live match were New Zealand beat South Africa and began our love affair with yakatori and ramen.
New Zealand 23 / South Africa 13
We then had quite some time until the next All Blacks match which was in Oita, so we choose to make our way overland by bullet train, next stop – Kyoto.
We stayed in Hotel Resol Trinity, for a week, making use of their public baths almost every day. We loved exploring the area, visiting shrines, shopping, discovering the Goin Geisha district, hearing the chirping of the nightingale floors of the Nijo castle, was a real delight. We also enjoyed our first sushi train, discovered Okinomayaki (a Japanese savory pancake) and watched Japan beat Ireland in a local pub.
We walked beneath many of the torii gates at Fushimi Inari-taisha, learn the art of sake making and visited the Imperial Palace and much more, we were averaging a lot of steps a day as there was so much to see and do.
We then jumped back on-board the bullet train to Hiroshima, we had decided to stay for just one night here so we could visit the atomic bomb dome and memorial museum, it was incredibly sad and moving but we appreciated the opportunity to see it for ourselves.
Our hotel, Candeo Hatchobori was walking distance so we explored on foot before getting a taxi to take us to have Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki, which was a treat, the host was a lovely lady into her 70’s.
Our last stop before returning to Tokyo was Oita, we had choosen a traditional Japanese guest house, nearby in Yufuin Yufin Hoshinosato – a popular hot spring destination. We slept on tatami mats and hired a car to get to the next match, which saw NZ win against Canada, we loved watching the players swap jerseys and bow to the crowd after the game.
It was quite an expedition to get to and from the Oita stadium, and we were glad of a couple of days to rest and recover before we flew back to Tokyo were we had rented a house through VRBO for 30 days, but more of that to come in Part II.
New Zealand 63 / Canada 0