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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
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    • Ocean and Beach
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.
    • Travel
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Races and Events
      • Yuji Hirayama Urban Base Camp

        Yuji Hirayama’s Urban Base Camp Opens in Shinj...

        One of Japan's top rock climbers Yuji Hirayama has opened Urban Base Camp, a new bouldering gym in the heart of Tokyo.
        Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.

Kakegawa – More than Just a Rugby Town

With the Rugby World Cup approaching in 2019, twelve venues across Japan are gearing up to welcome fans of international rugby. While the big venues in Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya are part of the line-up, other stadiums are located in more rural areas in Hokkaido, Iwate, Saitama, Oita, Kumamoto, Fukuoka, Kobe and Shizuoka.

Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, located a couple hours southwest of Tokyo, seats nearly 51,000 spectators. The stadium design is inspiring the new stadium being built for the Summer Olympics coming to Tokyo in 2020. “Ecopa,” which hosted several matches during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, is the primary venue for major sporting events in Shizuoka including rugby, football and track and field. In June, a warmup match between Japan and Ireland’s national teams was held here; interestingly, both teams are in the same pool for the Rugby World Cup. Although technically part of Fukuroi City, Ecopa is the main structure of Ogasayama Sports Park, which extends into neighboring Kakegawa. Unlike the other stadiums, Ecopa is surrounded by lush green forests instead of high rises usually associated with large stadiums.

Most travelers view Kakegawa as a quick stop or overnighter on the way to or from other destinations, but what they overlook is the hidden, cultural charm found all around this sleepy Shizuoka city. If you plan to visit for the Rugby World Cup or are simply looking for a cool new area to explore, here are a few must-see spots to add to your itinerary.

Highland Tea Farms

If you are a fan of green tea you’d know that Shizuoka is famous for producing some of Japan’s top strains. Kakegawa tea is enjoyed for its traditional, deeply steamed flavors and aromas. Apart from the tea itself, the city introduces tea culture by carefully manicuring the landscape at the foot of Mt. Awagatake, where rows of neatly trimmed tea bushes line the hills.

Mt. Awagatake is easily noticeable from afar as cypress trees shape the massive Japanese kanji character, “cha” (tea). Using the chagusaba farming method, the leaves are prepared in the traditional technique of tenomi (hand rolling) and can be tasted at traditional tea houses. Travelers can experience the leaf-to-cup process at Kiwi Country Japan during the tea harvest months of April to October. To reserve, call (0537) 22-6543 or email wbs02626@mail.ne.jp.

Higashiyama Hiking

The hilly region of Awagatake is part of Higashiyama, where hikers can explore ancient forests and spiritual “power places.” The main hiking trail starts from Higashiyama Ippukudokoro and takes about an hour to ascend Mt. Awagatake (532 meters). On the way up, the Awawa forest specifically holds religious significance with the Awawa Shrine at the summit and nearby Iwakura, which holds the remains of an ancient place of worship.

Relax in Natural Hot Springs

For post-hike relaxation, head to Kurami and Narakoko-no-yu hot springs. Kurami Onsen is famous for Masagokan, a traditional inn rich with history. The ryokan is located only a 15-minute drive from Kakegawa Station or a 25-minute drive from Kakegawa IC. If you are arriving with eight or more people, you will be picked up by a retro-style bus from the station.

Narakoko-no-yu to the north of the Ijiri Campsite is surrounded by forests and clear streams. The campsite also offers rental bungalows, cottages and even has a tennis court. For more information or to book your stay, email narakoko@r.narakoko.info.

Experience Feudal Japan

The impressive Kakegawa Castle was the seat of various feudal lords who ruled over Kakegawa during the 1400s. The castle has a long, arduous history, ultimately falling to Tokugawa Ieyasu’s army before being damaged twice by massive earthquakes. In 1994, it was restored to its original state and is the first wooden castle tower in Japan of its kind. The four-story castle offers a view of Kakegawa City from the attic lookout. After exploring the castle and its surrounding grounds, visit the Ninomaru traditional tea house for Kakegawa tea. The castle is a 7-minute walk from Kakegawa Station.

Kakegawa by Bike

The Japanese word yuttori means relaxed, and what better way to discover this laid-back city than by bicycle? With Kakegawa’s Hitotabi Futatabi tours, travelers can get a glimpse into Japanese countryside life as well as Kakegawa’s cultural history and agricultural treasures.

Half-day tours led by local guides generally cover 30 kilometers by bicycle starting at Kakegawa Station with stops at rice and tea fields, local eateries and the castle. Walking and trekking tours also available. To sign up, call (0537) 24-8711 or email info@kakegawa-kankou.com.

Getting There

Kakegawa Station is an hour and 50 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo Station or an hour bullet train ride from Nagoya. If you are coming by car, it is approximately two hours and 40 minutes from Tokyo IC on the Tomei Expressway. Aino Station is a 15-minute walk from Ecopa Stadium and is four minutes west of Kakegawa Station, the nearest shinkansen station to Ecopa. Shuttle buses are also available between Kakegawa Station to the stadium during major international matches. For more information, visit Kakegawa Tourism’s official website

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