After more than 20 years in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, The Rugby World Cup 2019 has finally made it to Asia. Between 20th September and 2nd November 2019 Japan anticipates that more than 400,000 international fans will arrive for the 43-day tournament.
British citizens can visit Japan for up to 90 days without a visa. Since the four home nations are playing in nine cities across Japan, around 50,000 British fans are expected to travel to support them. If you’re following your team through every try, scrum and foul, there’s plenty to look forward to. Everyone will be in good spirits as the tournament gets underway, but it is important to be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices if you’re travelling for the RWC. The Japanese take rules and customs seriously, one of the many reasons why Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. So, be sure to toe the line:
– Boisterous behaviour is not as acceptable in Japan as it is at home and punishments tend to be much more severe than 10 minutes in the sin bin.
– ID must be carried at all times as the police have the authority to stop you.
– Illegal drug use is a serious crime in Japan and can lead to long prison terms, harsh penalties or deportation.
– Historically, tattoos have links to organised crime in Japan, and you may be refused entry to some places – such as gyms and hot springs – if you have tattoos on display. Knowing many rugby players and fans have tattoos, host cities are relaxing their rules during the tournament. However, it is best to check with the establishment beforehand, or cover up where possible.
– Don’t be surprised if you enter a hotel or restaurant and they ask you to remove footwear.
– Public displays of affection are less common than in the UK.
– Japanese sports fans are famous for cleaning up after themselves at stadiums around the world. This concept extends to public places too. There is a noticeable lack of bins, however at the same time no litter on the streets. This is because the Japanese take their rubbish home or wait until they find public rubbish bins. It’s advisable to follow suit.
– It is highly recommended that visitors purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers your stay and all your planned activities while in Japan. (Please note that you may be expected to pay for treatment received before claiming back from your insurance company.)
– Despite its innovative technology, Japan is still a largely cash-based country. ATMs that accept overseas cards are available particularly in convenience stores and many of these are open 24/7. However, you should get in touch with your card provider before travelling to ensure you don’t have trouble accessing cash during your stay.
– There are restrictions on bringing certain over the counter and prescription medicines into Japan, so check the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare webpage for advice (https://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/policy/health-medical/pharmaceuticals/01.html). Vicks inhalers (a common over the counter cold remedy) are banned in Japan – so checking isn’t to be sniffed at!
– The Japanese typhoon season runs from June to October, and typhoons will often shut down transport links. Sign up to receive updates from the FCO here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/japan/email-signup
– Restaurant etiquette is very important in Japan. Most places will ask you to pay in cash and tipping is considered rude as staff are paid a decent wage. It’s also considered rude to question the bill, so be sure to check the cost of your meal and drinks before you order.
– The Rugby World Cup venues are located across Japan’s three main islands and so using public transport is necessary to reach many of the venues. Navigating Japan’s train system can be complex and the language barriers do not help. While the majority of signs in city centres and at transport hubs are in both Japanese and English, booking train tickets and finding the right platform can still be difficult. It is recommended to buy one of the many different country-wide tourist passes as this will save you a lot of stress and money. A seven-day pass is around £225. Although this might seem expensive, a single journey from Tokyo to Kyoto can cost over half that, so it really is worth it. Remember not to use or make calls on your mobile phone when using public transport either, as this is considered bad mannered.
Most visits to Japan are trouble-free but if you do need emergency assistance, call 110 for police and 119 for ambulance or fire services. English language assistance is available.
For more travel advice for Japan, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rugby-world-cup-2019