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Rugby World Cup Shines Spotlight on a Less-Traveled Japan

This autumn, fans from around the world will descend upon Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the first time the tournament will be held in Asia. With venues spread across the country, the five-week-long tournament provides an opportunity to see a variety of sights in Japan. Matches will be played in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, but the less-traveled host cities like Kamaishi, Kumamoto and Fukuroi offer accessible, charming destinations — as well as special deals and events — that give visitors the chance to experience Japan off the beaten path.

In March 2011, the scenic steel town of Kamaishi lost more than 1,100 residents in the tsunami that followed the Great Tohoku Earthquake; it is the only host city directly affected by the disaster. With deep ties to the sport through its famed Northern Ironmen club, the town has embraced rugby as part of its disaster recovery efforts, including construction in 2018 of the 16,000-seat Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium.

“We wish to show visitors the restored image of [the Tohoku region] and convey our gratitude as a host city of the Rugby World Cup,” said Yoshinao Takahashi, a public relations official with the city’s Rugby World Cup 2019 promotion headquarters.

When not taking in rugby matches, visitors can explore the town’s forested mountain surroundings. The Kamaishi Section of the 700-km Michinoku Coastal Trail winds through the town, making for a flexible, low-impact day trip that lets hikers take in both the history and natural beauty of the area.

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