Nine tips for any rugby fans heading over to Japan for the knock outs
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We're not jealous at all if you're heading to Japan for the knock out stages...
Things have just got real. Ireland's journey in Japan hasn't exactly been a straightforward one, but the business end of things is finally here.
As you'd expect anywhere else in the world (or probably off-planet too), the Green Army will show up in droves. Thousands of Irish fans will be making a trip over to the Land Of The Rising Sun, and believe us when we say it's not just the rugby you should be excited about.
Japan is simply an incredible country, with a fascinating history, great food and some of the friendliest people on earth. If you are planning a trip over there and want to save money, An Post Money Currency Cards can save you up to *€170 on your trip!
First tip: no tipping
It can be a bit disconcerting at first, but not only are you not expected to leave a tip with your taxi driver or waiter, but it’s actively frowned upon. In Japanese society, it’s seen as disrespectful to leave loose change behind you, although they do make concessions for westerners.
Learn a few words
Japanese people really appreciate westerners making an effort to say the odd word in their language. "Kon’nichiwa" is hello. "Sayonara" is goodbye. Here are a few others:
- "Onegai shimasu" – Please
- "Sumimasen" – Excuse me
- "Hai" – Yes
- "Iie" – No
- "Eigo o hanashimasu ka?" – Do you speak English?"
Travel on the bullet-train
The super-fast Shinkansen is the very best way to get around the country. You can always fly from Tokyo to Fukuoka for Ireland’s must-win match against Samoa, but it’s far more memorable to watch the gloriously verdant countryside whizzing past as you travel at speed in excess of 320km/h.
You will have to pay for the experience, though: a one-way ticket is around ¥22,500 (€190), although it will be considerably less if you buy a Japan Rail pass which allows you to travel around the country on all rail regular rail lines and on some Shinkansen services. A seven-day pass costs €252 and is best bought online before you arrive in Japan.
Chill out at an Onsen
Japan may be a technological wonderland but traditional practices are still treated with reverence, not least when it comes to bathing at hot springs. As a volcanic nation, Japan has thousands of these bathing places dotted around the country and several are to be found in the vicinity of Fukuoka, Yokohama and Tokyo.
It’s a perfect way to spend a chilled out afternoon and you’ll pay about ¥2,400 (€18) to enter one.
Save where you can
Japan is an expensive destination and the costs can really clock up if you’re eating out all the time. Convenience shops on every street corner sell everything and anything, including nutritious hot meals — they have plenty of options for affordable, on-the-go breakfasts and lunches.
Yen is one of 16 currencies accommodated by the An Post Money Currency Card and is available at selected post offices nationwide. Not only is it a safer option to cash, but it's also cheaper than a credit card with no charges at point of sale overseas, so could make a big difference in the end!
See sumo wrestlers in action
This national sport is one of the most quintessentially Japanese things you can do. Those who plan to stay on for an extra week or two should head to Fukuoka for one of the leading sumo tournaments, which begin on Sunday, 10 November.
But there are plenty of cultural experience tours which include a morning watching these big men go through their training routine. Expect to pay about ¥3,000 (€25)
Explore zany Harajuku
Pop fans will know the name thanks to Gwen Stefani’s big hit, ‘Harajuku Girls’, and this is the district of Tokyo where the cool kids, hipsters, fashionistas and exhibitionists all hang out. It’s all about self-expression here — the wilder the better.
Both it and the Akihabara neighbourhood — a short metro ride away — are the perfect places to visit a meido kissa (maid cafe) where the wait-staff dress up in traditional maid costumes with a twist. It’s good-natured, family fun and costs about ¥600 (€5) for a coffee with all the trimmings.
Step back in time at Kyoto
Tokyo and Kokohama are side by side and Irish fans will, hopefully, be spending a lot of time in these cities as the rugby reaches its conclusion. But if you’re after a less frantic destination for a day or two, Kyoto is perfect. It’s famed for its gardens and temples and there are no fewer than 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites to explore.
The Byodo-in Temple is on the back of the ten yen coin and it’s extraordinary. The admission fee is ¥600 (€5).
Acquaint yourself with dining etiquette
It’s considered very bad form to be using your mobile phone while at the dining table — so FaceTiming your friends back home is not a good idea when out for a meal. And unless you really didn’t like the dish or feel very full, it’s seen as bad manners to leave food on your plate.
*An Post Money study is based on a three week trip to Japan where fans spend one week in the host city of the final pool game, quarter final and plan a contingency week in Yokohama on the basis that Ireland reach the semi-final. Calculations include transaction costs associated with hotel, travel, food, entertainment and sightseeing. Transaction fee savings are based on analysis of competitor rates listed on www.ccpc.ie. Calculations are valid as at rates quoted on 9th October 2019. Calculations exclude currency conversion costs.
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