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The Japan Bucket List: 25 things to do, see and eat during the Rugby World Cup

Travelling to the Rugby World Cup? We've got pick 25 unforgettable things to do in the Land of the Rising Scrum

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The vermillion gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine

The vermillion gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine

Dive in: Japan has many unforgettable things to enjoy

Dive in: Japan has many unforgettable things to enjoy

Ramen at Kikanbo, near Kanda Station, Tokyo

Ramen at Kikanbo, near Kanda Station, Tokyo

Crowds cram Takeshita Stree t in Harajuku, Tokyo

Crowds cram Takeshita Stree t in Harajuku, Tokyo

A maiko, or apprentice geisha, walks between teahouses in Gion, Kyoto

A maiko, or apprentice geisha, walks between teahouses in Gion, Kyoto

Onsen - Japan's famous hot spring baths

Onsen - Japan's famous hot spring baths

Ginza - the shopping district of Tokyo

Ginza - the shopping district of Tokyo

Downtown Dotonbori, Osaka. The giant spider crab sign wriggles his legs 24/7.

Downtown Dotonbori, Osaka. The giant spider crab sign wriggles his legs 24/7.

Yoshino Mountain

Yoshino Mountain

Cat Cafe Mocha in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Cat Cafe Mocha in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

A futon is laid out for the evening at a ryokan, or traditional Japanese Inn. Omotenashi no Yado Keizankaku, outside Kyoto.

A futon is laid out for the evening at a ryokan, or traditional Japanese Inn. Omotenashi no Yado Keizankaku, outside Kyoto.

Harujuku Lane

Harujuku Lane

A Shinkansen train pulls into Tokyo Station

A Shinkansen train pulls into Tokyo Station

The city of Nagasaki is in Kyushu - the large southernmost Japanese island

The city of Nagasaki is in Kyushu - the large southernmost Japanese island

Tokyo Dome City. Photo: Deposit

Tokyo Dome City. Photo: Deposit

Pól Ó Conghaile taking the 2,446 steps up Mount Haguro, Japan

Pól Ó Conghaile taking the 2,446 steps up Mount Haguro, Japan

Mount Annupuri in Niseko on Hokkaido island, Northern Japan. Photo: Deposit

Mount Annupuri in Niseko on Hokkaido island, Northern Japan. Photo: Deposit

Kouri Bridge and Kouri Island, Okinawa. Photo: Deposit

Kouri Bridge and Kouri Island, Okinawa. Photo: Deposit

Henn-na Hotel, Tokyo. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Henn-na Hotel, Tokyo. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

 Yayoi Kusama's giant pumpkin sculpture in Naoshima, Japan. Photo: Deposit

Yayoi Kusama's giant pumpkin sculpture in Naoshima, Japan. Photo: Deposit

Kimonos in Kyoto. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Kimonos in Kyoto. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Kaiseki dining at the Palace Hotel, Tokyo

Kaiseki dining at the Palace Hotel, Tokyo

Green tea (or matcha). It is whipped into a froth before serving.

Green tea (or matcha). It is whipped into a froth before serving.

Torii Bridge Gate in Japan. PA Photo/Kuoni.

Torii Bridge Gate in Japan. PA Photo/Kuoni.

Street food in Japan

Street food in Japan

Yokohama, Japan skyline at Minato-mirai at sunset.

Yokohama, Japan skyline at Minato-mirai at sunset.

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The vermillion gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine

Sci-fi cityscapes. Perfectly pruned parks. Bullet trains. Samurai castles. Cat cafés. And the food... oh, the food. Velvety sashimi; udon noodles that quiver in your mouth; ramen you’ll remember forever.

Compiling our list of essential things to do in Japan, we could have gobbled up the entire magazine. Narrowing it down to 25 experiences made us feel like Joe Schmidt agonising over his final squad.

If you’re travelling to the Rugby World Cup, you’re in for a treat. Ireland’s pool matches swing from Yokohama to Shikuoka, Kobe and Fukuoka, with possible knock-out games in Yokahama, Oita and Tokyo. All are universes unto themselves, but barely scratch the surface of a country that feels at once perfectly normal and completely alien.


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