With just under three months until the start of the Rugby World Cup, excitement is building in the Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka, which will be hosting four of the matches – including Ireland v Japan (28 September) and Scotland v Russia (09 October) – at its Ecopa Stadium. Only an hour from Tokyo by bullet train, this stunning region is home to the iconic Mount Fuji, the beautiful Izu Peninsula – often described as Japan’s Riviera – and some of the best food in Japan, making it the perfect choice for rugby fans this autumn.
To help visitors make the most of their time in the prefecture, here is a round up some of the highlights!
- Foodie delights and Japanese history in Kakegawa
Just 10 minutes from Ecopa Stadium, with shuttle buses running between the two during the Rugby World Cup, Kakegawa offers the perfect opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in Japanese history. The city’s 15th century castle offers an insightful look into samurai history, while its majestic position on a hilltop offers stunning views across the surrounding landscape. Those looking for an authentic taste of regional cuisine should head to Honjin Dori, a traditional narrow street lined with food stalls, bars and eateries serving tasty treats in a casual setting.
- Awe-inspiring Mount Fuji
To discover the culture around Japan’s most iconic sight, a visit to the town of Fujinomiya – in the foothills of Mount Fuji – is a must. The seasonal clear skies make autumn one of the best times of the year to see Fuji-san, and visitors to Fujinomiya can explore the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre, designed to pay homage to the mountain, as well as the renowned 17th century Sengen Taisha Shrine, the traditional starting point for climbers. The nearby Shiraito Falls are amongst the most beautiful in Japan.
- Relax and re-charge on the Izu Peninsula
Designated a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2018, the Izu Peninsula is a highlight of any visit to Shizuoka. Often called Japan’s Riviera, its dramatic natural landscapes feature rugged coastlines, glorious beaches, forested mountains and natural hot springs (onsen). The onsen town of Shuzenji has been a destination for rest and reflection for over 1,000 years and is the perfect place to get away from the tension of the tournament. Whether visitors choose to soak in an onsen, stroll in the bamboo forest or enjoy the local craft beer, they will soon feel relaxed and revitalised in this tranquil town.
- Stunning landscapes and tea fields
As Japan’s largest producer of green tea, it is no surprise that the region is adorned with beautiful tea plantations. The Oigawa Steam Railway is the perfect way for travellers to discover these stunning landscapes as they head towards the green hills of Kawane in Shizuoka’s heartland – one of the highlights of the train journey is crossing the “Bridge of Dreams” over the Sumata Gorge.