The rugby kicks off at Tokyo Stadium. Bringing rugby fans from all over the world to Japan’s buzzing capital city, the opening ceremony is sure to be a spectacular show to celebrate the very first occasion the tournament has been held in Asia.
When it isn’t playing host to the world’s greatest rugby tournament, the stadium is used for Japan league 1st division football, and numerous concerts, as well as flea markets for savvy shoppers.
Japan v Romania will be the first of 2019’s landmark tournament, then age-old rivals Australia and Wales will jostle for their place, closely followed by two-time reigning World Cup champions New Zealand as they face Africa 1. England will give the Argentinian Pumas a run for their money in early October and, as the tournament reaches fever pitch, there will be tense battles in the Quarter Finals 2 & 4, before culminating with the Bronze Final.
With a capacity of nearly 50,000, the stadium will be packed to the rafters with fans who have travelled across the world to support their country, and play a part in rugby history.
Shibuya, Tokyo – image © David Lovejoy / InsideJapan Tours
It is impossible to sum up Tokyo in a line, a paragraph, a page or even a book. The city has a force and power all of its own. It creates its own gravity; a centre of everything: politics, industry, finance, shopping, the arts, architecture, scientific study, nightlife and food.
Welcome to Tokyo; Japan’s largest city and it’s capital since the Meiji Restoration of 1868 returned real power to the Emperor.
This is a truly overwhelming city: a vibrant hub of modern civilisation, constantly buzzing with activity. Suited businessmen rush from one meeting to the next; immaculately turned-out girls totter precariously on impossibly high heels; kimono-clad housewives fill the up-market department stores; and at every turn a barrage of different sights, sounds and aromas.
Tiny road-side stalls and shops sell everything from grilled chicken on sticks to high-tech electronics. Bars and restaurants are stacked up one on top of another, ablaze with neon as soon as dusk begins to fall. And everywhere people.
A tide of energy sweeps Tokyoites along, carrying them through the daily grind; from their apartments, onto the unbelievably crowded subway system, into the office and then back again. A visit to Tokyo is the chance to witness the Japanese success story up close.
Unlike many cities, Tokyo has no real “city centre” to speak of. Instead it has a multitude of smaller “centres”, reflecting the way that neighbouring towns have been gradually absorbed into the metropolis to create the sprawling urban mass you see today. Each of these districts has its own unique character, meaning that Tokyo really is a city of infinite faces, with infinite power to amuse and entertain.
You may begin your day in Asakusa, the city’s traditional district with the red Senso-ji Temple and quaint shopping street lined with stalls; then move on via Akihabara “electric town” to finish in the towering neon business and entertainment hub of Shinjuku. You could spend the morning taking in the park and museums of the Ueno district before taking a sweeping monorail ride across the bay to Odaiba Island; the pinnacle of futuristic kitsch. Or perhaps you might hit the shops in the up-market Ginza area; snap a picture at the famous scramble crossing at Shibuya; and check out the outlandish fashions in Harajuku before heading out for a night on the town in Roppongi.
The options truly are endless. You can mix eye-popping neon, cacophonous gaming arcades, riotous nightlife and seething crowds of people with serene gardens, wide open parks, peaceful wooded shrines and a wealth of fascinating museums. You can scale the tallest tower in the world, visit the largest fish market in the world, catch a train from the busiest station in the world, and eat dinner in the city with the most Michelin stars in the world. You can watch sumo wrestling and Kabuki or unknown rock bands and hyper-popular J-Pop groups.
As you can imagine, we could go on and on – but really you just have to see it for yourself!
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