Japan is hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup from next September – but what does the country have in store for visiting fans?
If Kyushu can be considered the quieter, slightly more tropical alternative to Japan’s main island of Honshu, then Fukuoka is Tokyo’s equivalent. That said, it’s a compact city with a population of just 1.5million by comparison, and yet has almost everything the nation’s capital has to offer and then some. From downtown Fukuoka, you can be sitting on a white sand beach in less than half an hour. But you can also be at the city’s airport in less than 10 minutes on a train – which also manes you won’t see too many ugly tall skyscrapers in Fukuoka because the airport’s so close to the city centre.
Fukuoka Hakatanamori Stadium is ideally situated next to both the airport and the city. It’s in Fukuoka, as the capital of Kyushu, where Japan’s rugby culture is strongest. From professional teams through university and high school teams, these are some of the very strongest in the whole of Japan.
Among myriad cultural treasures in Fukuoka is the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, famous throughout Japan and dedicated to the Shinto God of Learning. Fukuoka has long had a reputation as a city of learning, with many of the nation’s top universities still in Fukuoka city.
Bar hopping is a way of life in Fukuoka and its working class little brother to the north, Kitakyushu. Whether you visit a standup izakaya bar in Kitakyushu or a yatai food stall along the street in Fukuoka, the night scene is vibrant and offers chances aplenty to meet some locals, eat some authentic street food and enjoy a drink or three.
But you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t try Fukuoka’s tonkotsu ramen (pork bone broth noodles). Japan’s famous ICHIRAN ramen chain has its headquarters in Fukuoka and it’s a unique and deliciously memorable dining experience.