Welsh Kimono Dragons (All Wales Pool Matches)

Self-Guided Adventures

Classic

You’ve bagged tickets to all four Wales pool games as they take on Australia, Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay…but what will you do in between games? In this epic 24 night trip you’ll travel the length of Japan using the bullet train, combining high-energy rugby clashes with traditional culture, city breaks, and hot spring resorts.

After the bright lights of Tokyo, you’ll travel west to Toyota City to support Wales as they take on Georgia. Then swap cityscapes for mountain scenery as you travel into the Japan Alps to discover picturesque mountain towns and one of Japan’s best original castles in Matsumoto.

It’ll be time to ramp up the adrenaline as you join other Welsh fans for a pre-match event in Tokyo before their high-stakes match against the Wallabies. After cheering yourself hoarse, you’ll head into the mountains for a spot of walking along an ancient samurai trail, before speeding west on the bullet train to Kyoto and Hiroshima; two cities brimming with tradition and history, allowing you to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

The final portion of your adventure will be spent on the lesser-known southern island of Kyushu, a lush volcanic isle full of mineral-rich hot springs, mountain scenery and mouth-watering food. Here you’ll get to enjoy a part of Japan that’s off the general tourist path, and pair two quality rugby matches with some much needed relaxation.

  • Cheer on Wales at all four pool matches
  • Cycle around the alpine countryside of Takayama
  • Try your hand at making soba noodles
  • Mingle with fans at our pre-match event
  • Speed around Japan on the Shinkansen bullet train
  • **Please note, none of our trips or tours contain official match tickets**

Trip fits with:

Wales v Georgia

Toyota

Monday 23 September

KO 19:15 (local time)

Wales v Australia

Tokyo

Sunday 29 September

KO 16:45 (local time)

Wales v Fiji

Oita

Wednesday 9 October

KO 18:45 (local time)

Wales v Uruguay

Kumamoto

Sunday 13 October

KO 17:15 (local time)

Trip essentials

Starts 21st September 2019

Ends 15th October 2019

24 nights: from £4,790 (excl. intl. flights) per person

Trip code: WSGA3

For more information:

Call us: 01179 927068

Matches & Times

Matches & Times

This itinerary is designed to get you to the right place at the right time for the following rugby matches.

Please note that match tickets are not included in this package.

Match

Host City

Stadium

Ticket Info

Wales

vs

Georgia

Pool D Round 1

Toyota

Mon 23rd September 2019

KO 19:15 (local time)

City of Toyota Stadium

Stadium info

Australia

vs

Wales

Pool D Round 1

Tokyo

Sun 29th September 2019

KO 16:45 (local time)

Tokyo Stadium

Stadium info

Wales

vs

Fiji

Pool D Round 1

Oita

Wed 9th October 2019

KO 18:45 (local time)

Oita Stadium

Stadium info

Wales

vs

Uruguay

Pool D Round 1

Kumamoto

Sun 13th October 2019

KO 17:15 (local time)

Kumamoto Stadium

Stadium info

Day by Day

Day by Day

Following Wales for all four games of the pool stage will take you on a huge Japan journey from the neon skyscrapers of Tokyo to the volcanic hot springs of Kyushu Island.

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Day 1 Tokyo

Welcome to Japan

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Day 1 Tokyo

Arrive at Tokyo Narita or Tokyo Haneda Airport and we’ll ensure there’s a shared shuttle bus transfer waiting to take you to your hotel in central Tokyo. Take it easy today, or head out into the capital to start exploring the temples, sky rises and exquisite dining scene.

Day 2-4 Nagoya & Toyota

Watch Wales against Georgia

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Day 2-4 Nagoya & Toyota

Next up you’ll be staying in the relaxed city of Nagoya and taking the train out to Toyota, home of the world-famous manufacturing giants, to the 45,000 seat stadium to cheer on Wales as they begin their rugby campaign against the Georgia Lelos.

Day 5-6 Takayama

Journey into the Japan Alps

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Day 5-6 Takayama

A beautiful train journey will see you winding up into the mountains of the Japan Alps. In Takayama (literally ‘high mountain’), stay in traditional accommodation sleeping on futon mattresses in a tatami-mat room. Take a cycle tour through the rice paddies and farmland of the surrounding countryside (please note: this cycling tour is subject to availability).

Day 7 Matsumoto

Stop off at the Black Crow Castle

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Day 7 Matsumoto

Take a bus through the mountains to Matsumoto, home of the Black Crow Castle which dates back to the feudal era. Try your hand making the local speciality, soba noodles, and visit the wonderful ukiyoe woodblock print museum.

Day 8-10 Tokyo

See the Dragons take on Australia

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Day 8-10 Tokyo

Return to Tokyo to mingle with Wales fans at our special pre-match party. This Tokyo showdown is one of the toughest games in Pool D: Wales v Australia. Can the fearsome Dragons slay the Wallabies? Recover from the drama with a day at leisure exploring the capital at your own pace.

Day 11 Kiso Valley

Walk the Nakasendo samurai trail

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Day 11 Kiso Valley

Swap Tokyo’s neon jungle for the old samurai trail through the Kiso Valley. Walk the most scenic 8 km stretch between Magome and Tsumago before bedding down in a family-run inn. A relaxing getaway from the rugby fever!

Day 12-15 Kyoto

Join a Kyoto tea ceremony

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Day 12-15 Kyoto

And now for Kyoto, the most culturally rich city in Asia. Kyoto fulfils all the images of traditional Japanese culture; geisha and kimono, temples and gardens, calligraphy and ikebana. Take a private guided tour and join a traditional tea ceremony.

Day 16-17 Hiroshima & Miyajima

Unwind on the shrine island of Miyajima

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Day 16-17 Hiroshima & Miyajima

Take the bullet train on to Hiroshima for a sobering visit to the Peace Memorial Park & Museum. As a modern city Hiroshima has plenty to see and do, and we highly recommend tucking into the tasty savoury okonomiyaki pancakes while in town. On your free day you can then ferry across to the sacred shrine island of Miyajima, renowned for its striking vermillion torii gate that seems to float in the sea. If the weather is good, why not take the cable car (or hike!) to the top of Mount Misen for panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea.

Day 18-20 Oita

Visit Kyushu Island for Wales v Fiji

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Day 18-20 Oita

The thermal spa region of Oita is the setting for a volcanic battle between Wales and Fiji. Calm your nerves before the match with a spot of onsen hot spring bathing, and the day after make a side trip from Oita to Usuki, to see Buddha statues carved into the cliffs.

Day 21 Kurokawa Onsen

Try hot spring bathing Japanese-style

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Day 21 Kurokawa Onsen

Travel on to Kurokawa Onsen, slap bang in the middle of Kyushu Island. Stay in a Japanese-style hotel and enjoy the relaxing hot spring baths. Then in the evening you can tuck into a feast of the finest Japanese cuisine.

Day 22-23 Kumamoto

Cheer on Wales against Uruguay

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Day 22-23 Kumamoto

Wales’s final pool game is against Uruguay in the castle town of Kumamoto. This will be Uruguay’s fourth appearance in the history of the tournament; will they give Wales a run for their money? Be there to find out!

Day 24-25 Osaka

Finish up in Japan's kitchen

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Day 24-25 Osaka

Take the bullet train back to Japan’s main island and finish up in the foodie city of Osaka. Street food rules here, amid the shopping arcades and neon advertisements, seek out stalls selling octopus dumplings or slurp ramen noodles on a final night out in Japan.

Map & Destinations

Map & Destinations

This itinerary starts in Tokyo and finishes in Osaka. You'll need to fly in to Tokyo Narita or Tokyo Haneda Airport, and fly out of Osaka Kansai. In between you'll travel all over Honshu and Kyushu Islands on this 24 night Japan odyssey.

Tokyo

Welcome to Japan

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Tokyo

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.

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.

The options here 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. As you can imagine, we could go on and on – but really you just have to see it for yourself!

Nagoya

Watch Wales against Georgia

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Nagoya

Nagoya is rarely afforded more than a couple of pages in guide books, perhaps due to its almost total destruction at the end of WW2. Yet this is a city that has played a pivotal role in the development of the Japan you will find today and offers a great deal for visitors willing to give it a chance.

Nagoya’s most famous son is Tokugawa Ieyasu, who in 1603 after a series of bloody encounters, defeated his rivals (those loyal to the former shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who also hailed from Nagoya) at the battle of Sekigahara, to become ruler of all Japan. The establishment of Tokugawa rule in 1603 ushered in a period of unprecedented economic prosperity and peace in Japan and Nagoya citizens continue to be proud of the achievements of the Tokugawa. These days Nagoya is a major industrial centre with some of Japan most powerful companies (Toyota, MUFJ Bank, Toho Gas) being based here.

With some of the best shopping in Japan, a friendly cosmopolitan atmosphere and fabulous food Nagoya makes for a fantastic stop on any Japan itinerary.

Takayama

Journey into the Japan Alps

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Takayama

More than 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea lea level and surrounded by the brooding peaks of the Japan Alps, Takayama is a bustling market town known for its sake, traditional crafts, and biannual festival.

Takayama was once the home of Japan’s most skilled carpenters and artisans, and the well-preserved streets and wooden houses on the banks of the Miyagawa River pay vivid testament to this fact. The buildings now house a multitude of craft shops and specialist food stores, in amongst which you’ll find numerous sake breweries (open for tastings!) and museums covering all manner of things from mechanical dolls to the history of the Lion dance. Add in the two morning markets and it is no wonder that people fall in love with this place.

This generally quiet rural town is famous throughout Japan for its elaborate festival, which shatters the peace twice a year when tens of thousands of Japanese descend on the town to join the celebrations. One of Takayama’s most popular attractions is the Hida Folk Village, a remarkable collection of old gassho-zukuri (“praying hands”) farm houses, complete with thatched roofs and irori fireplaces. Add to this a bicycle ride through the Hida countryside, and you have a perfect day in Takayama!

Matsumoto

Stop off at the Black Crow Castle

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Matsumoto

Matsumoto, located in the Japanese Alps, makes for a welcome contrast to the huge, neon cities of the eastern seaboard. Here you’ll find fantastic art museums and delicious food presided over by the “Black Crow” castle, which rises dramatically above the city centre.

Matsumoto today is a very cosmopolitan city and has long been a centre of the arts and education. It’s the hometown of the celebrated artist Yayoi Kusama, whose polka-dot creations have graced art galleries worldwide – and can be found on display at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art. If you’re interested in the visual arts, we also highly recommend heading to the city’s ukiyo-e museum, which is located in the suburbs and houses the world’s largest collection of traditional Japanese woodblock prints.

Though its cultural offerings are diverse, the highlight is undoubtedly its castle – which is considered to be one of the most beautiful original castles in Japan. Having survived over four hundred years through wars, earthquakes and fires, the current keep dates back to around the late sixteenth century and is open for the public to explore and admire.

On a final culinary note, Matsumoto is also renowned for its soba or buckwheat noodles and its wasabi – the spicy green radish paste that usually accompanies sushi has a habit of catching the uninitiated unawares! Soba noodles make for a delicious lunch whether served hot or cold, and if you have an interest in wasabi then we recommend a visit to the Daio Wasabi Farm just outside the city.

Kiso Valley

Walk the Nakasendo samurai trail

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Kiso Valley

Picture Japan as it was hundreds of years ago; unspoiled nature surrounded small villages of wooden buildings; main streets were filled with little more than foot traffic and the voices of shopkeepers selling their wares. Tsumago is just that, a lazy town tucked away in the Kiso valley.

Tsumago has a long history of trade and travel. Over a thousand years ago people passed through this region on the Kisoji, a trade route that crossed through the towering mountains of the Japanese Alps. Trade brought people from throughout the region to Tsumago’s ryokans and simple rest houses, but it wasn’t until the Tokugawa Shogun created a new capital in the swampy region in what is now Tokyo that Tsumago and the Kiso valley region truly flourished. This was thanks to a new route known as the Nakasendo that ran between Kyoto, Japan’s imperial capital, and Edo, the home of the Shogun.

Thanks to Tsumago’s relative inaccessibility, this tiny post town has managed to escape the modernization that has spread through much of Japan and, for that matter, much of the world. The real highlight for most visitors to Tsumago is a walk along the ancient Nakasendo. This cobblestone route is still easily traversed and, perhaps, more beautiful than ever.

Kyoto

Join a Kyoto tea ceremony

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Kyoto

There is nowhere more special than Kyoto. It is home to everything associated with traditional Japan: striking temples, mysterious geisha, sacred tea ceremony, Zen rock gardens, imperial palaces, refined cuisine, ornate kimono, bamboo groves, street-corner shrines and lively festivals.

After all the hype you’ll hear about Kyoto before you arrive (from us as much as anyone), on first glance the city may not live up to expectations. Most visitors arrive at Kyoto Station, a gleaming ode to futuristic architecture designed by Hiroshi Hara, before being swept out past tacky Kyoto Tower, drab concrete shops and karaoke bars. But Kyoto is Japan’s seventh-largest city, not a tiny rural village, and it is the juxtaposition of modern, urban life against the time-honoured traditions that make this one of the most fascinating of Asian cities.

Today, Kyoto is home to more than 2,000 temples and shrines, including an amazing 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Given its status as the standard-bearer for Japanese culture and history, it is not really surprising that Kyoto attracts more than 40 million visitors a year. Packed with must-see sights, from the rock garden of Ryoan-ji to the Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji, from the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple to the “nightingale floors” of Nijo Castle; you will find that here it is impossible to escape the tour bus crowds. Yet for those who make the effort, Kyoto’s narrow streets are packed with hidden beauties – exquisite gardens and little-known temples – that are quiet and peaceful even at the height of the tourist season.

Kyoto is there to be uncovered and discovered, and once you have scratched the surface, it is a city sure to draw you back time and time again.

Hiroshima & Miyajima

Unwind on the shrine island

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Hiroshima & Miyajima

Western Honshu’s largest city needs little introduction. The name Hiroshima has become synonymous with the atomic bomb attack that ended WWII, and millions of visitors flock to the city every year to pay their respects.

Nowadays, short of the remaining memorial of the A-Bomb Dome and the thousands of colourful peace cranes scattered across the city, you would be hard pushed to imagine the destruction once wrought. The modern city is a thriving community, with an international outlook not often found in Japan. The downtown area is filled with places to shop, eat, and otherwise enjoy oneself, and visitors soon discover there is much more to Hiroshima than its sombre history.

For one thing, locals are rightly proud of their signature dish, okonomiyaki, a sort of noodle-based pancake with an array of delicious toppings. We highly recommend a visit to Okonomi Mura, where every restaurant serves the city’s speciality!

As well as the Peace Park, a visit to Hiroshima should include a stop at the city’s castle (reconstructed in the late 1950s after the original was decimated by the bomb), and a stroll around nearby Shukkei-en Garden and adjacent Museum of Art. And if you have the time, don’t miss the stunning World Heritage island of Miyajima, just 15 minutes’ ferry ride across the bay. With a peaceful atmosphere, some ancient shrines, and one of Japan’s most iconic views, it makes the perfect contrast to the bustle of the city.

Oita

Visit Kyushu Island for Wales v Fiji

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Oita

Oita Prefecture is a land of hot springs bubbling forth from the unending volcanic activity of Kyushu Island. The Japanese have been harnessing this power for centuries; the tradition of bathing in thermal waters to reap therapeutic benefits dates back to the 8th century.

Beppu is the region’s most famous hot spring resort. Billowing clouds of steam fill the city streets. As well as traditional hot spring baths, Beppu has mud baths, natural steam saunas and sand baths where bathers are buried in naturally heated sand – good for the circulation apparently!

Several matches will take place at Oita Stadium, south of Oita City, the prefecture’s capital. The city has a couple of good art museums. Nearby the former castle town of Usuki has an interesting collection of stone Buddhas carved into cliffs.

Kurokawa Onsen

Try hot spring bathing Japanese-style

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Kurokawa Onsen

Located in Kyushu and near Mt Aso – one of Japan’s active volcanoes, Kurokawa Onsen offers some dramatic landscapes and is a great destination for outdoor activities. Thanks to the volcanic activity there are also plenty of hot springs around to soak in and relax after a long day out.

Kurokawa is a small hot spring village nestled in the countryside near Mount Aso. A day trip to the mountain from here will mean that you have plenty of time to get some fantastic views of this, the world’s largest caldera. There is some great hiking and walking to enjoy both at Aso and from Kurokawa Onsen itself – including the Suzume Jigoku (Sparrow’s Hell) which is a bubbling valley of sulphur pools – the source of all that hot spring water. After hiking and exploration there are a number of hot spring bath houses to enjoy for which you can get a special pass from the tourist information centre or you can relax in the baths at your ryokan.

Kumamoto

Cheer on Wales against Uruguay

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Kumamoto

Located on the west coast of Kyushu Island, Kumamoto is a city rich in samurai history and provides an excellent base for exploring Kumamoto Prefecture’s many areas of great natural beauty.

The city’s signature landmark, Kumamoto Castle, is officially designated one of the top three original castles in Japan, and is most famous for its musha gaeshi curved stone walls, which offered maximum protection against attackers throughout the city’s great history.

The castle is a great place to enjoy the changing of the seasons, as is Suizenji Park – a group of traditional Japanese gardens which feature a miniature version of Mount Fuji and a teahouse brought all the way from the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Suizenji Park is a short tram ride out of the city and a nice place to relax and take in the beauty of a meticulous Japanese garden.

Other attractions in Kumamoto are its shrines and temples, the Hosokawa Samurai Residence, and Mount Kinpo – a mountain on the outskirts of town from which expansive views across the city and surrounding mountains can be enjoyed.

Kumamoto is one of the few cities in Japan where the train station is not at the heart of the city. A short tram ride will see you in downtown Kumamoto and at the entrance to Shimotori and Kamitori shopping arcades. Filled with a great of array of restaurants, bars and shops, life in this relatively small city is 24/7 and there is always something to do.

Osaka

Finish up in Japan's kitchen

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Osaka

Osaka is the concrete beating heart of the Kansai region – Japan’s second biggest industrial area with an output rivalling that of Australia. This is modern Japan writ large: massive crowds, huge department stores, karaoke boxes, bars, restaurants and clubs one on top of the other.

Osaka has all the galleries and museums you’d expect of a large city – but the best way to experience the character of the place is on the street and in the buzzing, larger-than-life entertainment quarters. Osaka has a reputation for a work-hard-play-hard mentality, and from about 6pm the streets are alive with businessmen, shop workers and students all out to relax and have a good time. Youth culture is everywhere you turn, with video game parlours and karaoke centres lining the covered arcades.

Most importantly, Osaka is one of the best places to try Japanese food – whether it’s octopus balls from a street-side stand, okonomiyaki savoury pancakes (a regional speciality), or some of best sushi in the world. The streets around Nanba and Dotonbori are jam-packed with a dazzling array of superb eateries for all budgets.

Osaka is located in the Kansai region of Japan’s main island, close to many of Japan’s most interesting destinations such as Kyoto and Nara, and with excellent transport links across the country.

Accommodation

Accommodation

Please note that we now have limited accommodation availability at Classic (three star) grade. If you are interested in upgrading to Superior (four star) grade accommodation, please get in touch.

 

This itinerary includes mid-range Western-style hotels (approximately three star) in the cities. Breakfast is included every day.

In some rural locations you will stay in a ryokan. Like hotels, ryokan vary in grade and price. In general, guest rooms have sliding doors, paper screens and tatami reed-mat flooring, and you'll sleep on thick futon mattress placed directly on the floor. Most guest rooms do not have en-suite bathrooms; instead there are communal, gender-separated hot spring baths, sometimes open air, great for relaxing in after a long day of sightseeing. But the real highlight of any ryokan stay is the food. Included dinners consist of a dozen or so intricate, seasonal dishes. At higher end ryokan, dinner is served privately in your guest room.

The following accommodation is included in this Classic-grade package:

Tokyo: Shiba Park 151

Nagoya: Trusty Hotel Nagoya

Takayama: Hida Hanasato-No-Yu Ouan

Matsumoto: Alpico Plaza Hotel

Tokyo: Shiba Park Hotel

Kiso Fukushima: Komanoyu

Hiroshima: Hiroshima Washington Hotel

Oita: Rembrandt Oita

Kurokawa Onsen: Sanai Kogen Hotel

Kumamoto: Candeo Hotels Ozu Kumamoto Airport

Osaka: Candeo Hotels Osaka Nanba

 

If you're interested in upgrading to Superior (approximately four star) accommodation, the following hotels are available at an additional cost of £1,950 per person.

Tokyo: Grand Nikko Daiba

Takayama: Hida Hotel Plaza

Matsumoto: Buena Vista Hotel

Tokyo: Grand Nikko Daiba

Kyoto: Nikko Princess Kyoto

Hiroshima: Granvia Hiroshima

Oita: Hotel Rembrandt Oita

Yufuin: Tamanoyu

Kumamoto: ANA Crowne Plaza Kumamoto New Sky

Osaka: Swiss Hotel Nankai Osaka

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