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If you’re heading out to Japan this month, chances are there’s only one thing on your mind. The Rugby World Cup kicks off in Tokyo on September 20th, and the excitement is palpable. Will the Brave Blossoms triumph on home soil? Will the All Blacks hold onto the top spot?
But what if rugby mania is passing you by?
For those amongst you that, *shock horror*, aren’t rugby fans or perhaps missed out on getting tickets to your top choice matches, don’t worry! The good news is you’re in Japan and there’s no shortage of weird and wonderful things to do and see to keep FOMO at bay.
Here are our top tips from our team of Japan experts on alternative ways to fill 80 minutes of match time:
1. Transcend boundaries at teamLab Borderless in Odaiba
You can easily lose yourself for 80 minutes in teamLab Borderless – the new exhibition in Odaiba that everyone is talking (and Instagramming) about. With constantly evolving exhibits and captivating lights and digital installations at every turn, you’ll find it hard to drag yourself away.
2. Wander around hip Naka-Meguro
The hip and happening neighbourhood of Naka-Meguro is home to a surfeit of cool cafes and bars,independent shops and, perhaps best of all, a bookstore where you can while away a happy 80 minutes just browsing the tomes.
3. Visit the Sky Garden for views
The Meguro Sky Garden offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the world’s busiest city. On a good weather day, take a picnic and sit awhile for 80 mins of quiet reflection. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji in the distance.
1. Sapporo brewery tour
Sampling Japan’s most popular beer is an absolute must for anyone venturing up north at any point during the tournament. Self-guided tours of the Sapporo Beer Museum typically last between onetwo hours, with lots of opportunities to try some of the special brews and even beer ice cream (only in Japan!)
2. Catch a cable car up to Mt Moiwa
Take the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway for the best seats in the house. The view from the upper observation deck is particularly beautiful at sunset – not a bad alternative for anyone who missed out on those much-coveted England v Tonga tickets.
3. Cook your own BBQ dinner
Pitch up with the locals and grill your own lamb BBQ dinner. ‘Genghis Khan’ is another Hokkaido speciality, and one not to be missed during your time in Sapporo.
1. Visit the Cup Noodles Museum
You wouldn’t have thought there was much to know about the humble Cup Noodle – but boy are you wrong. A visit to the Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama is a surprisingly good use of 80 minutes. As well as film and photo exhibits, there’s an opportunity to get hands on and mix and match soups and flavourings to create your own unique cup noodles.
2. Stroll around Sankeien Gardens
Escape the crowds with a stroll around Sankeien Gardens – an early 20th Century classical Japanese garden with ponds, tea houses and the three-storied pagoda of Tomyoji Temple. Those visiting later on in autumn will be lucky enough to see the temple amidst a backdrop of vermillion and gold as the leaves change colour.
1. Check out the world’s longest suspension bridge
The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge connects Kobe with Awaji Island, and is famed as being the longest suspension bridge in the world. For any engineering enthusiasts, there is an opportunity to walk underneath the main bridge platform along the Maiko Marine Promenade.
2. Cable car up Mt. Rokko
Take the cable car up the mountain through dense forest and emerge at an observation deck offering panoramic views of Kobe Bay stretching right across to Osaka. The view at night-time is particularly spectacular and cited by some as one of the top three views in Japan.
1. Eat your way through Fukuoka’s Yatai food stalls.
Fukuoka is famed for its fabulous open-air food stalls (yatai) that come to life after sunset. With so many local specialities to sample, from Hakata Ramen to grilled chicken skewers (Yakitori) washed down with a Japanese whiskey highball, there aren’t many better ways to spend a night in Fukuoka.
1. Check out the hottest (literally) izakaya in Osaka
When everything is cooked by flamethrower, you know it’s going to be a meal to remember. There will probably be a queue at Izakaya Toyo and it’s standing room only, but the blow torched tuna makes it well worth the wait.
1. Toyota Kaikan Museum
A must-do for car fanatics. Take a two-hour tour around the headquarters of Japan’s leading car manufacturing plant for the chance to see the newest models on the production line, and the very latest in robotic technology.