With the eyes of the sporting world about to focus on Japan, the country’s tourism leaders are ramping up efforts to ensure visiting fans make the most of their time in the country. Japan will host the Rugby World Cup 2019 and Tokyo Olympics 2020. To capitalise on these events the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) has established the targeted RWC2019/Tokyo 2020 Projects Section Global Projects Department. Katsue Takeshima, the department’s deputy manager, says the beauty of the Rugby World Cup is that it will be hosted all around the country. ‘Outside Tokyo, there are so many wonderful places people haven’t discovered yet. You will find so much culture, regional food, with Japanese pub-style dinners and sake breweries, mountains, nature and onsen hot pools.
‘New Zealand travel agents booking All Blacks supporters’ travel should encourage them to make time to discover these. Don’t base them in one place, please move them around.’ Takeshima also downplayed concerns that accommodation rates would be high during the event. ‘I think because the Rugby World Cup is spread around the smaller regions that isn’t going to be an issue.’ Kicking off the promotions this week has been a hosted tour of media from eight rugby-playing nations, travelling Japan to check out the venues and regions where their respective nations will compete in their pool games. New Zealand is set to play these in Oita (on Kyushu Island near the famous Beppu Hot Springs), Toyota City (near Nagoya), Yokohama and Tokyo. ‘Even for the All Blacks’ Tokyo game we would encourage people to stay out of Tokyo a bit,’ says Takeshima. ‘They don’t have to stay in the centre, the infrastructure is here and Tokyo is so well connected by train it is easy to travel from somewhere a bit further out.’ This will also be the case for the Tokyo Olympics 2020, she adds.
- By Kathy Ombler in Tokyo