Discover the Charms of One of Japan’s Most Underrated RWC Cities
Traditional culture, modern automobiles, and the timeless joys of cheering for your home country on the big screen; if you’re in Toyota city for the Rugby World Cup, come prepared for a massive day.
If you’re flying in from Tokyo, then you’ll need coffee and there’s no better place to fuel up than Matsuzakaya, one of the city’s premier department stores. As well as being home to a wide selection of excellent cafes and restaurants, many of the local food shops inside Matsuzakaya, will be hosting special exhibitions themed on the rugby with collected exhibits from Italy and NZ. If you don’t make it before you head out, then remember the spot to return to later before the match.
Next up, it’s time to head out to one of Toyota’s most historical attractions, Sanshu Asuke Yashiki, and the Asuke old townscape. The best way to get there is via bus from the city center.
Located a roughly one hour journey from the heart of Toyota, Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village is a picturesque neighborhood of traditional Japanese-style houses, which these days house the stores and workshops of many of the area’s talented artisans. Many of the artisans in the area also run workshops inside the traditional homes, teaching classes covering all types of arts and crafts including indigo dying, washi paper crafts and bamboo basket weaving.
Like a well-preserved folk museum come to life, the townscape of Asuke is home to laid back local farmers, many of whom still use the same tools for crop cultivation as they used centuries ago. Wandering through this rustic, quaint homes is an ideal way to really immerse yourself in Japan’s regional history and witness first hand what it’s like to live off the land.
The area also produces a popular regional snack called ‘goheimochi’ a type of skewered rice cake typically covered in a soy, miso, or sesame-based sauce, it’s rather specific to the area so for a true taste of Aichi, be sure to try it out.
Walking distance from Sanshu Asuke Yashiki sits Korankei Gorge, a stunning natural valley that’s most popular in November when the autumn leaves transform into fiery shades of red and orange. The gorge, however, is stunning all year round, and if you’ve made it this far, it’s definitely worth a short detour. Once you’re done soaking up the natural beauty of Korankei Gorge, it’s time to hop back on that bus to get amongst all the action in Toyota city.
It’s fair to say as Toyota is most widely known for the automobiles the city manufacturers, in fact up until 1959, Toyota was a known as Koromo (??), but was retitled as a dedication to the Toyota Motor Corporation. If you’re interested in learning more about how this laid back city became the home to one of the biggest car brands in the world, make some time to visit the Toyota Kaikan Museum.
The museum is broken up into six different displays and each with their own theme exploring the many facets of the company’s products, philosophies, and history. Even if you’re not too interested in cars, you’ll find something to keep you entertained, whether it’s the free plant tour which runs from Monday to Friday, or the hands-on, interactive displays.
Given how far spread the attractions of Toyota are, it may be challenging to add a visit to Washi no Furusato to this one day run down; however, it’s well worth adding to your Toyota itinerary. The climate of the Toyota area is ideal for the cultivation of kozo (mulberries), which are a key component of Japanese ‘washi’ paper. Washi no Furusato is a gallery and craft center where you can learn all about these fascinating berries and how they came to shape the traditional arts of the area.
By now, the day will be well and truly ticking into the evening, so it’s time for some pre-game dinner. For something local, try miso katsu, which is a delectable combination of a fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu) smothered in a thick miso sauce, it’s a rich choice, but one you surely won’t regret. Chain restaurant Misokatsu Yabaton is one of the city’s best places to try the dish, as they’ve been perfecting the art of miso katsu for almost 70 years now. Yabaton actually inside the T-Face located right next to Matsuzakaya, so now is a perfect time to check out the earlier mentioned rugby museum right before visiting the Toyota RWC Fanzone.
The Toyota RWC Fanzone is your home of everything rugby, here you’ll find rugby-themed showcases, family-friendly activities, plenty of food and drinks, entertainment and unique regional attractions. Entry into all of the Fanzones across the country is free, and it’s an excellent place to soak up the atmosphere before the match, or even if you didn’t manage to get your hands on tickets.
Spend a little time here exploring the Fanzone in the afternoon before watching the game. The hours between 6:00 – 10 pm are strictly about the match except on Saturday the 12 October when New Zealand v Italy, this match happens in the afternoon (13:45 JST) so be sure to keep an eye on the schedule.
When the game is all over, and you’re looking for somewhere to finish the night, head to Booby’s. This cheeky but charming, British pub is a hive of activity for all sports fanatics all year round, but especially so during the rugby season.
In celebration of the big event, Booby’s will extend their hours to the daytime too, so if you’re looking for somewhere to hang out before the games, this is the place to be.
Covered with sports memorabilia from across the globe, the pub hosts regular sports night events and is the perfect place to soak up the atmosphere of the cup while knocking back a beer or two and getting to know your fellow sports fans.
As well as all your boozy British favorites, Booby’s also boasts an impressive international food menu which includes but isn’t limited to classic British pub grub – think fish and chips, as well as hamburgers, pizza, curries, pasta, and desserts.
The best place to stay when in town is close to the action, but you don’t want to sacrifice style for location, so if you want the best of both worlds, then stay at the traditional and luxurious ryokan, Sanage Onsen Kinsenkaku.
Located just north of Toyota Stadium, this laid back retreat has an onsite restaurant with both classic Japanese and American-style breakfasts available. An extra added bonus worth noting is that the onsen is super welcoming to foreign guests and the baths are tattoo friendly.
The easy option: Join a half day tour
If you’d rather leave the planning to the local experts, it’s worth mentioning that the Mikawa Branch Office of JTB run English friendly half-day bus tours of Toyota. Crafted especially for visitors coming to enjoy the RWC, the tour kicks off in Nagoya at 8:45am and takes guests to the Asuke area, and Toyota Kaikan Museum before wrapping up at Shin-Toyota Station at 3pm. For more info on prices and times, visit the website.
Rugby World Cup City Guide – Toyota
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