Ganbare! What you should know about going to the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan
Getting amped yet for the Rugby World Cup in Japan? It might feel like forever until we get to see the Springboks pommel some All Blacks in the Land of the Rising Sun, but if you want to feel the sweat in person, now's the time to start getting your travel plans in order.
From 20 September to 2 November of this year the world will be sipping on green tea while they watch their teams fight for glory in the first Asian country to be hosting the tough game.
While Yokohama will be hosting the major games - including the first Springbok match against the All Blacks - the world cup will be spread out among many Japanese cities, including Tokyo, Sapporo, Kamaishi, Kumagaya, Kumamoto, Fukuoka, Osaka, Kobe, Shizuoka, Toyota and Oita.
The second round of ticket for the matches will be on sale from 19 January to 1 April, but you first need to create a ticketing account beforehand in order to apply for tickets.
It will be a first-come, first-serve system, and fans are urged to check whether there are tickets still available for the specific match you want to see.
You can buy up to six tickets per match, and you can also opt to buy bundle tickets for a stadium or team in the pool phase.
Essential info for visiting Japan
Visa requirements: South Africans need to apply for a visa at the embassy at a cost of R355.
Time difference with SA: 7 hours ahead of SA.
Currency: Japanese yen (7.80¥/R on 8 January 2019)
Flights: There are no direct flights to Japan, but one-stopover flights average around 23 hours one-way, with an average price of R12 000 return between Johannesburg or Cape Town and Tokyo, although there are cheaper flights if you fly to Osaka instead of Tokyo.
Accommodation: Japan's National Tourism Organisation has a handy website to find all kinds of accommodation throughout the country. Click here to check it out.
Where the main matches will be taking place - and where SA will be playing
RWC event: Opening ceremony and the first match between Japan and Russia on 20 September, the quarterfinals on 19 and 20 October and the Bronze final on 1 November.
How to get there: About an hour flight or two and a half hours train ride from Osaka.
Top attractions near the stadium: You can bow for some good luck for your team at the Senso-ji Temple in the Asakusa area, check out views of the city from the Tokyo Skytree, chow down a sumo wrestler's power food called chankonabe in Ryogoku or dance your worries away in the nightlife district of Roppongi.
RWC event: SA vs New Zealand on 21 September, the semi-finals on 26 - 27 October and the final on 2 November.
How to get there: 18 minutes from Tokyo and two hours from Osaka by train.
Top attractions near the stadium: You can dive into old-fashioned Japan in the town of Noge, taste some local hops at the Kirin Beer Factory, discover the history of the country's most famous export at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum or connect with your inner peace after a rugby loss at the harmonious Sankeien Garden.
RWC event: SA vs Namibia on 28 September.
How to get there: Three-hour train ride from Tokyo and one hour and 50 minutes from Osaka.
Top attractions near the stadium: Go soak up some culture after the sport at the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, take a historic sightseeing tour of the nearby Nagoya City, become a transport geek at the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park, garner some favour for your rugby team at the Atsuta Shrine or escape the city to Asuke Hachimangu where you can travel back in time at the living folk museum Sanshu Asuke Yashiki.
RWC event: SA vs Italy 4 October.
How to get there: One hour from Tokyo and two hours from Osaka by train.
Top attractions near the stadium: Considered the green tea capital of Japan, you can try out some Kakegawa Tea near the stadium to keep your health up, get something a little stronger at the sake brewery Hananomi, or dream of royalty at the Kakegawa Castle that's managed to survive the centuries.
RWC event: SA vs Canada on 8 October.
How to get there: One hour and 15 minute flight or two hour 40 minute train ride from Tokyo and 12 minutes from Osaka by train.
Top attractions near the stadium: You can try out their world-famous wagyu beef at the many restaurants near Sannomiya Station, do some shopping at the Kobe Motomachi Shopping Street, take romantic evening strolls at Meriken Park, organise a hike up Mount Rokko or let the stress of the RWC flow away in a hot spring at Arima Onsen.
RWC event: Quarterfinals on 19 and 20 October.
How to get there: One and a half hours from Tokyo by plane and 55 minutes flying or three and a half hours by train from Osaka.
Top attractions near the stadium: Oita is surrounded by hot springs, the most famous being Beppu where you can dip in sparkling blue pools or even bath in warm sand at Beppu-Kaihin Sunayu. You can also wander through the castle town of Usuki built on volcanic ash or visit some monkeys without cages at Takasakiyama Natural Zoo.
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