With the Rugby World Cup now just a few weeks away, it’s time to get a little more familiar with the venues and cities hosting the rugby matches around Japan. One of the most exciting aspects is the sheer spread between the 2019 Rugby World Cup host cities.

Navigating Japan’s smaller, more regional hubs can get a little confusing if you don’t speak Japanese or aren’t a geography master. So to help you navigate just how to get there, where to stay, and what to do, here’s a handy comprehensive guide on every single one of Japan’s RWC hosting cities.

Pro tip: Consider getting a Japan Rail Pass to save money traveling around Japan, and grab a wifi router or prepaid SIM card to make navigation and communication easy.

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Sapporo (Hokkaido Prefecture)

Sapporo Dome RWC venue
Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan – August 25, 2016: Sapporo Dome is the heart of sports and entertainment in Northern Japan. | Photo by iStock.com/ikuyan

The stadium: Sapporo Dome

Open in 2001, Sapporo Dome is home to the city’s popular Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, hosted three FIFA World Cup matches in 2002 and was the venue for the opening ceremony of the 2017 Asian Winter Games.

Must-visit spots

Although Sapporo is most famous for its winter celebrations, there’s a lot to do there all year round. If you don’t want to stray too far, you can head off on a little self-directed city tour: some highlights include the American Midwest–style Clock Tower, Nijo Market, a seafood market that’s arguably one of the best in Japan, the sprawling Odori Park, and of course the Sapporo Beer Museum.

We’ve previously put together a guide on the definitive guide to Sapporo sightseeing which you can bookmark here. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous there’s always the option of getting out of the city for a country or oceanside adventure. Here’s our guide to some handy little day trips from Sapporo.

How to get to the venue

Sapporo is one of the easier cities to navigate, and getting from Sapporo Station to Sapporo Dome couldn’t be more straightforward. Take the Toho Line from the station and get off at Fukuzumi Station, from there it’s a 10–15 minute walk. The journey takes about 35 minutes and costs ¥250 each way.

Recommended accommodation

You’ll find a bulk of Sapporo’s accommodation options in the Chuo (central) ward of the city. Many of these are within walking distance from the station. Susukino is the nightlife and entertainment district and is home to plenty of hotels of all budgets and styles. A great place to stay if you want to make the most of your time in the city, it’s located just south of the station.

Ascent Inn Sapporo: Centrally located budget hotel. Check availability and rates.

Kamaishi (Iwate Prefecture)

Kamaishi Iwate rugby world cup 2019 host cities
Kamaishi Station (the Sunfish Kamaishi fish market is right next door) | Photo by inunami used under CC

Stadium: Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium

Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium is the newest of all the RWC stadiums and was opened in August 2018. The stadium is in part as a dedication to the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, which devastated Kamaishi and the area that surrounds it.

Must-visit spots

Kamaishi isn’t the most accessible place to get around using public transport, in large part due to the destruction that occurred in 2011, so sightseeing travel by car is best. That’s not to say don’t get out there and visit the sights though; highlights include the towering Kamaishi Daikannon statue, a ten-minute taxi ride from Kamaishi Station, and the Sunfish Kamaishi fish market next to Kamaishi Station. Book a car and head to the picturesque Jodogahama Beach on the Sanriku Coast if you have time and want to explore further.

How to get to the venue

From From Kamaishi Station, the stadium is a 15-minute drive. There currently isn’t a lot of comprehensive information on other transport options. However, the city promises to update the details before the event.

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Recommended accommodation

You’ll find most of the hotels located along the east coast of the city. There is a handful clustered around the Kamaishi central area near the Kamaishi Daikannon and Kamaishi Port.

Rikuchu Kaigan Grand Hotel: Resort-style hotel with water views. Check rates and availability.

Tamanoyu: Classic, but incredibly affordable ryokan. Check rates and availability.

Kumagaya (Saitama Prefecture)

Saitama Stadium rugby world cup host cities
Photo by Courtesy of Tokyo 2020

Stadium: Kumagaya Rugby Stadium

Perfect for the RWC, the open-roofed Kumagaya Rugby Stadium is reserved purely for university level and some bigger-name rugby matches throughout the year. It was completed in 1991 but is undergoing a little facelift in time for the cup. It can fit about 10,000–15,000 spectators.

Must-visit spots

Kumagaya is more of a residential area than a tourist destination, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have a few hidden delights. Menuma Shodenzan Kangiin Temple is an extravagantly designed temple. About 20 minutes away by foot is Tone River, which, on a clear day, offers photogenic views of Gunma Prefecture’s mountains. For a day trip head to Kawagoe, Saitama’s Little Edo (traditional town) for sweets and quaint old world vibes.

How to get to the venue

From Kumagaya Station, the stadium is a 15-minute drive, a 45-minute walk, or a 20-minute bus ride—so take your pick. Bus fare will set you back ¥210 yen each way.

Recommended accommodation

There isn’t a lot on offer regarding hotel destinations, but you’ll find most of your accommodation options clustered around Kumagaya Station. (Alternatively, you can book in neihgbouring Tokyo and catch the train from there.)

Marroad Inn Kumagaya: Central spacious hotel with a budget price tag. Check rates and availability.

Hotel New Neo: Tidy, no frills, but centrally located budget-friendly hotel. Check rates and availability.

Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture)

International Stadium Yokohama rugby world cup host cities
Photo by Courtesy of Tokyo 2020

Stadium: Yokohama International Stadium

Yokohama International Stadium, also previously known as the Nissan Stadium, is one of the RWC’s major destinations. It’s the ideal city too for rugby-related adventure, as Yokohama is a city that gets a little passionate about sports. This mega stadium has been home to some 2002 and 2008 FIFA World Cup matches, and an impressive list of live music performances.

Must-visit spots

Officially the second biggest city in Japan, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Yokohama. For food though, you can’t miss trying an all-you-can-eat budget buffet at Yokohama Chinatown (the biggest of its kind in Asia). Also, be sure to visit the Cup Noodle Museum to try making your own unique noodle blend.

How to get to the venue

The stadium is located right by Shin-Yokohama Station, the city shinkansen service station. From Yokohama Station, you can take the subway Blue Line, which costs ¥240 each way, or the JR Yokohama Line which costs ¥170 each way and is covered by a JR pass. It’s about a 15-minute journey between stations.

Recommended accommodation

There are three main accommodation location options, which one you choose depends on your priorities. The area near Shin-Yokohama Station is ideal for those who want to be within walking distance from all the RWC action, the hotels near Yokohama Station are great for those who want easy access to Tokyo and the neighboring areas, and the Minato Mirai district is perfect for luxury hunters wanting a bayside view and easy access to sightseeing haunts.

Hotel & Hostel On The Marks Tokyo Kawasaki: Modern, stylish capsule hotel with hotel rooms and onsite restaurant. Check rates and availability.

Kannai Hotel: Stylish, modern hotel in the sport-centric hub of Kannai. Check rates and availability.

Hostel Village: Laid back hostel with an international atmosphere. Check rates and availability.

Fukuroi City (Shizuoka Prefecture)

rugby world cup host cities Shizuoka Epoca Stadium
Photo by hiro used under CC

Stadium: Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa

Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa opened in 2001, just in time to host a handful of FIFA matches in 2002. Situated in a sports center the park has a number of other sports facilities most often used for track and field events. It’s surrounded by mountain ranges and rolling hills, making for an impressive scene.

Must-visit spots

An excellent place for those who want to avoid the concrete coldness of the megacities, Fukuroi is surrounded by lush open plains, mountain ranges and also connects the town to the coast. It may not be the most bustling of cities, but it’s also not far from Hamamatsu, a city famous for musical instrument production and flower parks. If you want to explore the area in a little more depth, check out our Fukuroi guide and our Shizuoka guide.

How to get to the venue

From Shizuoka station, it’s a straightforward one train trip on the JR Tokaido Line. Hop off at Aino Station, from there it’s a 15- to 20-minute walk to the stadium. The journey takes a little over an hour and costs ¥970 each way.

Recommended accommodation

Its ideal coastal location lends the Fukuroi City area to plenty of beachfront resort-style options. For the largest variety of hotels, look along the coast south of Fukuroi City, between there and Hamamatsu.

Smile Hotel Kakegawa: Cheap, welcoming hotel located in the center of Fukuroi City. Check rates and availability.

Toyota (Aichi Prefecture)

toyota aichi rugby world cup host cities
Photo by Makoto Ito used under CC

Stadium: Toyota Stadium

Toyota Stadium is one of the most impressive RWC stadiums if only for its retractable roof, which looks like described accordion, as described. The 45,000-seat venue has been home to its fair share of live shows and sports performances since opening in 2001, including a massive show by boy band EXILE which saw 111,000 fans jam inside.

Must-visit spots

The city is home to a number of museums, many of which are supported by the globally recognized Toyota car company. For a day of museum hopping, consider visiting Toyota Kaikan, a museum dedicated to the car makers, as well as checking out the ultra-modern Toyota Municipal Museum. If you’re looking to go a little further check out our Toyota and Aichi guides.

How to get to the venue

Super centrally located, Toyota Stadium is just 15-minute walk east of Toyota-Shi Station, through Shirahama and Sengoku Parks.

Recommended accommodation

There are two main hubs of hotels in the general Toyota city area. The first is around the Toyota-Shi Station area, which luckily is also right by the stadium. If you head a little farther south, you’ll arrive at Okazaki, a neighboring city with a cluster of hotel options.

Toyoko Inn Toyotashi Ekimae: Breezy, laid-back hotel within between two Toyota stations. Check rates and availability.

Plaza Hotel Toyota: Modern, budget friendly hotel with easy access to the rest of the city. Check rates and availability.

Higashi-Osaka (Osaka Prefecture)

higashi Osaka stadium RWC
Photo by Adrian Formaran used under CC

Stadium: Hanazono Rugby Stadium

Hanazono Rugby Stadium is the oldest one dedicated to rugby in Japan. It was completed in 1929 and has only hosted rugby games throughout its almost 80-year existence. The 30,000 capacity venue hosts the National High School Rugby Tournament where every year teams from all 47 prefectures of Japan battle it out for the ultimate title.

Must-visit spots

Colloquially known as the country’s ‘rugby football town’, the area is very much dedicated to the sport, and many of the city’s main attractions are based around this stadium. To see the city from a different perspective, head on over to Hiraoka Park, a scenic, elevated park with an observation deck offering the best panoramic views in the city. Although it’s technically a different city, Higashi-Osaka is only about 30 minutes from the heart of Osaka, so there are plenty of opportunities to explore the city in a little more depth. For some extra inspiration check out out our Osaka guide.

How to get to the venue

From Osaka Station, it’s very straightforward, take the JR Osaka Loop Line to Tsuruhashi Station then switch to the Kintetsu-Nara Line and hop off at Higashi-Hanazono Station. The journey takes about 50 minutes in total and costs ¥440 each way.

Recommended accommodation

If you’re planning to spend a few days in the area, you have two best options for accommodation. You can stay in Higashi Osaka, near the rugby action, or go for Osaka City for more options. If you plan on doing the latter, try to find either somewhere near Osaka Station, or near Momodani Station, which is the ideal position between both points.

Hotel Wing International Select Higashi Osaka: Bright, bubbly hotel in the heart of Higashi Osaka. Check rates and availability.

Hostel Bushi: Modern, fun international Osaka hostel with dorm and private rooms. Check rates and availability.

Best seller HG Cozy Hotel No.24: Affordable budget friendly apartment style accommodation in the heart of the city. Check rates and availability.

Kobe (Hyogo Prefecture)

Photo by Gregory Lane

Stadium: Kobe Misaki Stadium

Kobe Misaki Stadium was completed in 2001, in time to host a number of 2002 FIFA World Cup matches. Also known as The Noevir Stadium Kobe, the impressive stadium, with its completely retractable roof, fits around 42,000 rowdy spectators.

Must-visit spots

Kobe may be a little more humble than some of Japan’s other major cities, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have a lot going for it. Want to check out a Chinatown? Kobe’s got it. How about old European charm and stunning natural views? There’s plenty of that too. In fact, we’ve written a guide on it. How about one of the most impressive and historic castles in Japan? Kobe doesn’t disappoint.

How to get to the venue

From Kobe-Sannomiya Station, the city’s central station, it’s a straightforward one-train journey. Ride the Kaigan Line to Misakikoen Station; from there, it’s a five-minute walk. In total, the trip takes a little over 20 minutes and costs ¥230 each way.

Recommended accommodation

Given its relatively compact size it doesn’t matter a lot where you stay in Kobe, but there are a few neighborhoods where you’ll find the densest collection of accommodation options. Along the port sits the more scenic hotels; near Chinatown, is where to stay if you want to be in the heart of the action; and finally around Kobe-Sannomiya Station is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an easy place to set up home base.

Hostel Yume Nomad: Cozy, casual style hostel with traditional Japanese charm. Check rates and availability.

Kobe Student Youth Center: Cheap, welcoming youth-focussed hostel in central Kobe. Check rates and availability..

Kobe Sannomiya R2 Hostel: Laidback, affordable, welcoming hotel located in the city center. Check rates and availability.

Fukuoka (Fukuoka Prefecture)

fukuoka castle sightseeing rugby world cup host cities
Photo by Gregory Lane

Stadium: Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium

Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium has, since its completion in 1995, been reserved for hosting professional soccer matches, with the occasional rugby match thrown in there for good measure. It’s also known as the Level5 Stadium, named after the game software company which sponsors the stadium.

Must-visit spots

At times a little overlooked, but Fukuoka is a city that’s not lacking in charm. We love it so much that we’ve even dedicated a feature on why you should move there, which you very well may feel tempted to do so after visiting. The impressive Kushida Shrine, lively Canal City shopping center, vibrant Shofuki-Ji Temple, incredible ramen—there’s plenty of inner-city attractions, and we’ve compiled a bunch right here. If you’re looking to go out a little farther, then maybe you might want to look into visiting Ainoshima Island, aka ‘Cat Island’.

Fukuoka food stalls
Photo by Gregory Lane

How to get to the venue

Hakata Station is Fukuoka’s central train station. To get to the stadium from Hataka, take the Kuko Line to Fukuokakuko Station, then switch to the local bus,which will drop you off not far from the stadium grounds. The trip takes about 30 minutes and costs ¥430 each way.

Recommended accommodation

tokyo book and bed hostel
Photo by Adriana Paradiso

One of the best most central spots to stay is around Tenjin-Minami subway station. It’s full of hotels, easily accessible via public transport and walking distance from the scenic Kego Park.

Book And Bed Tokyo – Fukuoka: A trendy hostel where guests can sleep inside bookshelves, affordable and central. It has a sister hostel in Tokyo too. Check rates and availability.

Trip Pod: A newly renovated, modern hostel with private, pod style rooms. Check rates and availability.

Kumamoto (Kumamoto Prefecture)

kumamoto castle sightseeing
Photo by Gregory Lane

Stadium: Kumamoto Stadium

Kumamoto Stadium was built in 1998 and has hosted many different events throughout its lifetime including sports matches and a mega stadium performance by Japanese rock group Mr. Children.

Must-visit spots

Kumamoto is arguably most famous for its historical Kumamoto Castle. The castle was partly destroyed following the April 2016 Kumamoto earthquake but is currently being reconstructed, in a fascinating way. To maintain its integrity, the castle being rebuilt like a 3D jigsaw puzzle, with each stone being positioned back in its original place. If you have a day up your sleeve, consider heading out to Mt. Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan and home to one of the strangest, almost moon-like landscapes you’ll ever visit.

How to get to the venue

Thanks in large part to the 2016 earthquake, getting around Kumamoto by train isn’t the most convenient option, the bus is the most direct way. To get to the stadium from Kumamoto Station, you can take the number 17 or 8 bus direct to the Park Dome Kumamotozen Bus Stop. The journey takes about 55 minutes and costs ¥600 each way.

Recommended accommodation

If you find bus networks a little confusing it’s highly recommended you stay close to the Kumamoto Station area. It’s surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shopping centers, all of which are accessible by foot.

Ikidane Residential Hotel Hakata Tenjin 1: Modern, breezy, stylish hotel with a budget friendly price tag. Check rates and availability.

Hotel Kumamoto Terrsa: Luxury-style resort accommodation with a budget price point. Check rates and availability.

Guesthouse Asobigokoro Kumamoto: Classic Japanese-style guest house with a welcoming hostel atmosphere. Check rates and availability.

Oita (Oita Prefecture)

beppu hot springs Oita
Photo by Gregory Lane

Stadium: Oita Stadium

Oita Stadium, aka Oita Bank Dome, is architecturally the most impressive of all the RWC stadiums. Designed by the world-renowned modern architect Kisho Kurokawa, it looks like something ripped from the pages of a sci-fi manga. It was completed in 2001 in time for the FIFA World Cup and fits about 40,000 spectators.

Must-visit spots

Oita claims they have some of the best hot springs in Japan, and we don’t necessarily disagree. Head to Beppu to check out the famous eight hells (known as Jigoku) and to get buried neck deep in the sand, as part of the famous sandbathing experience. Here’s a guide on what to expect in and around this bubbling hot spring–dotted prefecture. If you want to explore beyond Oita City, you can always head to Yufuin (or vice versa). If you want to explore the prefecture a little farther, see our suggestions for what to do in Oita.

How to get to the venue

The most direct way to get from Oita Station to the stadium is by bus. Take the Oita Bus bound for ‘Park Place via Ogiwara’ and hop off at ‘Oita Sport Park Higashi’, from there it’s an easy five-minute walk. The trip takes about 35 minutes each way and costs ¥400.

Recommended accommodation

Oita is home to a diverse selection of accommodation options, from traditional ryokan inns to budget-friendly options. We have a handful of recommended hotel choices right here worth checking out. Otherwise, as a general rule, like many other smaller Japanese cities, staying close to the central station is the best option.

Oita Regal Hotel: Modern spacious budget hotel in the center of Oita. Check rates and availability.

Guesthouse Fukiaesu: Cozy, classic style traditional Japanese inn. Check rates and availability.


Ajinomoto Stadium / Tokyo Stadium
Photo by Tokyo 2020

Tokyo, the most visited of all the 2019 Rugby World Cup host cities, is a beast of its own, hence why we have a whole website dedicated to this amazing metropolis. Our RWC-inspired guide—Tackling the Basics of a Trip to Japan—uses Tokyo as its base, and tips for transport, accommodation, sightseeing, etc. is all there.

Stadium: Tokyo Stadium (Ajinomoto Stadium)

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