Reminders have popped up on Faceboook from two years ago of the England World Cup and the regular media made coverage of a two year countdown in Japan – so seems enough stimuli to actually start planning for the 2019 event.
The schedule is yet to be announced, with qualifying not finished, though the first game will be mid to late September with the final likely to be around Halloween weekend. Of dubious provenance, there has also been a ticketing website set up. Though this is only really at pre-registration levels at the moment, it makes sense to at least get some details down now.
I can recall low-tech methods for buying game tickets between 2002 and 2005, often including selecting a ticket via a terminal in a convenience store then paying in cash over the counter. Hopefully things have moved on, indeed I have seen CC bookings in for baseball games more recently, but it’s a nice demonstration of a cash-dominated society in what was once acountry of advanced digitalisation.
There are a dozen locations already confirmed and in some cases almost been ready for use. Sapporo is a city built for events such as this with a covered stadium often a requirement for a snowy city and a big brewing history. Kumagaya offers a mini rugby city outside Tokyo and is the one location I can remember playing at, albeit one I suffered a broken collar bone at from a miscommunication with a Japanese playmaker.
The fan experience I’ve always found to be highly choreographed and enjoyable with any notions of alcoholism long since disregarded. The ultimate game accessory, beer attendants, has long been the norm. I partake at the baseball sometime in 2008 below. Colour schemes are all part of the routine, indeed getting my various Japanese shirts, flags and scarfs co-ordinated has long since been mentally planned.
The crucial message from my post about the JR rail pass was that it was only really worth it if you took in two long-range (two hour plus) return journeys. In other words, if you base yourself somewhere and travel to two other places, it’s a good use of money buying one of the longer term passes.
What I also discovered recently is non-Japanese passport holders can get a JPY 10,000 flat rate for flights. If you only have one or two legs to travel between major cities, then it works out better in terms of cost. If money is no object, I found the speed of the bullet train is faster for point to point journeys under around 500 miles.
Again for the well heeled, the ultimate accommodation is the full service at a Japanese Inn, a Ryokan, with only a few rooms per establishment, meals served to your room, a stone bath and dressing gowns all part of the experience. My wife Becky deemed this the highlight of a two week Asia tour recently, Kyoto is the must-see tourist destination to do this from, based around games in the west of the country.
More expedient, Ryokans do go down to most budgets with the minshiku it’s more casual brother. For a late night drinking, the capsule hotel is another eponymous Japanese experience, from my friend’s experience, it does seem a male preserve. For really late and unplanned evenings out when the trains stop, an Internet cafe is a perfect crash pad with showers, melon soda and connectivity all softening the landing.
Exercise and decompression
Playing for Tokyo Gaijin RFC in Tokyo for two years pretty much kept me in Japan for a year longer than intended, with a bunch of English teachers and bar staff from all the major rugby nations and Canada proving an essential escape valve. A couple of weeks in Japan and an ad-hoc game would be perfect to round off the trip. As an esteemed former Gaijin skipper described the experience:
“We got up at the crack of dawn and travelled to the arse end of nowhere, the pitch is made of concrete, the warm up has been hopeless and the referee is crazy. I’ve played fifty games with some of you and it’s the first time I’ve met you others, but we need to make the most of it”
Good job the rest of the country is the land of convenience.