Rugby World Cup 2019
The 9th Rugby World Cup kicks off on 20th September, running through to 2nd November.
It will be competed across 12 cities in Japan with Tokyo hosting the opening ceremony and the first match of the competition.
This will be the first time the tournament has been played in Asia and may be the first experience of Japanese culture for many. We’ve put together a ‘tourists’ checklist to help you familiarise yourself with local laws and cultures…
Travelling to Japan for the Rugby World Cup
As you can imagine, there will be an increased demand on flights, public transport and hotels throughout the competition. It’s always best practice to book in advance to secure your accommodation. However, it is not always possible to know where the next game will be (we’re sure all the UK nations will reach the knock-out stages!).
Or visit a dedicated Rugby World Cup guidance page, which compiles relevant information during the games here.
Some areas of Japan have slimmer pickings when it comes to temporary accommodation and you may come across some unfamiliar options such as Ryokans. These are Japanese-style inns, normally featuring futons and traditional flooring to sleep on, an important part of Japanese history and a great way to experience a little culture. They sometimes include onsen (Japanese hot-springs). Though, be mindful that some onsen will not accept customers with tattoos. We’ll cover tattoos in some more detail further on.
Capsule hotels (known as pod hotels here in the UK) are very popular. These are hotels made up of tiny rooms with just enough space for a bed. They are a budget friendly option and can be great for a place to rest for the night if you’re needing urgent accommodation. Although, bear in mind that capsule hotels are often non mixed.
Be aware that Airbnb and similar companies are not normally a reliable source of accommodation due to strict home-sharing regulations in Japan.
Tattoos in Japan were traditionally a sign of yakuza membership (members of organised crime). Although tattoos are very common nowadays, there is still a prejudice against them among Japanese society. Being a foreign tourist, you don’t need to worry about this too much but just be aware your body art may attract some negative attention. It’s also important to remember, due to the rigidness of their own rules; you may be required to cover your tattoos when visiting public pools or baths. Although some places will be stricter than others.
Japan has a zero tolerance policy to drugs and if caught, you could be facing a lengthy jail sentence. We’d advise that anything recreational is out of the question. However, what if you need to take prescription drugs with you?
Hallucinogenic, narcotic, or psychotropic drugs are not allowed in Japan unless under very special circumstances, in which case prior approval is required and you will need written confirmation from your GP and reasons as to why you are prescribed such medication. For all other prescribed medication (excluding injections), you are able to take up to one month’s supply without written consent. However, if you do need to take a bigger supply or you administer your meds via injection, you will need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei (similar to an import certificate).
In saying all of this, we would urge you to double-check with your GP before you go.
Still predominantly a cash-based society, some places will only accept cash so always check beforehand. Although, most places today accept major credit cards. When paying, you may notice little trays being placed on your table. Where you see this, always use the tray provided to place your cash on it. Do not hand your money directly to the waiter/ cashier.
Japan is known for its strict unspoken rules of etiquette. Here are a few to equip you whilst out in public:
- Chopsticks: When resting your chopsticks, lay them on the rest provided or flat across your bowl. Never leave them poking up out of the bowl. When passing food, use the back end of your chopsticks to scrape onto another’s plate; do not pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks. These are rituals associated with funerals and the dead and therefore considered disrespectful.
- Public Transport: Don’t use seats reserved for the disabled, elderly, pregnant women or those with small children. Japanese women carry their unborn children a lot more discreetly and therefore they wear pink tags to signify their entitlement so keep an eye out for these. Always give up your seat for someone that needs it more than you.
- Eating & Drinking Whilst Walking: Food and drink are not permitted on public transport. As well as this, eating and drinking whilst walking is really frowned upon, You will normally see locals walking with their takeout bags to eat somewhere later or will be drinking their drinks at the vending machines before walking away
- Tipping: Tipping is almost non-existent in Japanese culture. Therefore, when in restaurants, bars or hotels etc. it is not expected or necessary for you to do so.
- Being Noisy: It’s considered bad manners to talk on your mobile phone whilst on public transport, it’s also polite and sometimes requested that you switch your phone to silent when travelling around. The Japanese speak quietly to one another when in public, it’s best practice to do the same. Being loud or boisterous will be perceived as disrespectful behaviour. On balance, if you require your mobile or a gadget while in Japan, our gadget cover is included with our Premier and Premier Plus levels of cover.
Much has been mentioned about Japanese customs and it can seem a little overwhelming. But bear in mind, the Japanese are warm and welcoming. As tourists, we are not expected to be aware of all the unspoken rules that govern the way they live. Hopefully, the pointers above have somewhat calmed any worries you have and just remember, you’re going to have fun and enjoy the rugby. Any non-deliberate errors on your part will be forgiven so keep calm and enjoy your experience.