Game on: See the Rugby World Cup at Setouchi's Kobe Misaki stadium

The Rugby World Cup will touch down in Japan next year, with thousands flocking to see 'the game they play in heaven'. Yvette Caster finds out more

Published 7 Jan 2019, 09:11 GMT, Updated 30 Dec 2021, 16:50 GMT
Kobe Misaki Stadium, Setouchi
Kobe Misaki Stadium, Setouchi
Photograph by Kobe Tourism Bureau

Japan is gearing up to play host to one of the world's greatest sporting events — the Rugby World Cup — with the tournament kicking off on 20 September 2019. Games will be played across the country's stadiums including Setouchi's Kobe Misaki Stadium in the Hyōgo Prefecture.

England, Scotland and Ireland will all play matches at this impressive venue, which was built in 2001 and can hold more than 30,000 supporters. Kobe Misaki Stadium has previously hosted top martial arts, rugby and football events, including 2002 FIFA World Cup games and Japanese national team matches.

Key games scheduled to take place here include England v USA on 26 September, Scotland v Samoa on 30 September and Ireland v Russia on 3 October. The almighty South African Springboks will also play at the stadium on 8 October, bringing a truly international flavour to the region.

Other matches will take place across Japan, with the quarter-finals being held at Oita Stadium in Oita Prefecture and Tokyo Stadium in the capital. The semi-finals will be hosted at the International Stadium in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, where the final will also be held on 2 November.

If you're visiting Japan to see your sporting heroes, you'll need to be mindful of some cultural dos and don'ts:

1. Arrive on time: Make sure you arrive early or at least on time to restaurant reservations, matches, events and meetings. Tardiness is viewed as very disrespectful and, although the customer is always right, you'll stand out in all the wrong ways if you're late.

2. Don't tip your waiter or waitress: In Japan, tipping implies the establishment can't afford to pay staff a decent wage, and can lead to some very awkward interactions. Many staff will simply hand your money back.

3. Learn the rules of the onsen: Many Japanese hotels boast their own hot springs and baths. There are separate ones for men and women, and visitors are expected to bathe naked. Women's baths have red writing outside, while men's is blue. You're expected to shower thoroughly, sitting down, before bathing. All tattoos should be covered up as culturally these are associated with gangsters and criminals.

4. Take off your outdoor shoes: Some traditional Japanese hotels require you to wear socks or slippers in your room. Most will signify if they do, and often provide shoes/slippers for your use.

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