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Rugby World Cup 2019 ™ will take place in Japan, the very first tournament to be hosted in Asia, promising one of the most unique and exciting Rugby World Cups yet! From eel-flavoured ice-cream and dining with cats to a rabbit-filled island, these 18 fun facts about Japan will blow your mind.

Japan is a well-preserved society

  1. Japan has more than 50,000 people who are over 100 years old. Centenarians, as demographers call them, are marvels of medical science. Japan holds its elders in high regard and since 1963, has recognised September 15th as “Respect for the Aged Day.” For those who celebrate their 100th birthday in the calendar year, the government awards them with a silver-plated sake dish and a letter congratulating them on the achievement.

RWC2010 - Did you Know?


Welcome to an island nation

  1. Japan consists of over 6,800 islands. Some of these islands are uninhabited or in the midst of territorial disputes, but many of them are absolutely beautiful. From Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south, you will be able to find a myriad of natural habitats, plants and animals! It might be a good idea to go island-hopping in Japan!
  2. …And one of these islands is full of rabbits. A small island in the Seto Inland Sea called Ōkunoshima; the island is most often referred to by its nickname “Usagi Jima,” which translates to Rabbit Island and is so named for the hundreds of feral rabbits that call it home.

Food & etiquette


RWC2010 - Did you Know?


  1. In Japan, tipping a server is considered rude and doing so could cause an awkward situation, or be misconstrued as an insult. It is best to assume that all prices in Japan already include gratuity in the form of a service charge.
  2. Noodles are slurped somewhat loudly when eaten in Japan. Slurping indicates the food is delicious and also serves to cool down the hot noodles for eating.
  3. The correct way to eat sushi is with your fingers. Picking up the sushi with your hands means you don’t ruin the perfect form of the sushi that was artfully made by the chef. Chopsticks are typically only used to eat sashimi (raw slices of fish).
  4. Around 24 billion pairs of chopsticks are used in Japan each year. Chopsticks are usually made of bamboo because they dry faster and require less work to construct as there are no knots to cut around and the grain is always in one direction. The used chopsticks are then thrown away in a landfill where they will be broken down over time.
  5. You can buy eel-flavoured ice-cream in Japan. A “food amusement park” in Tokyo called Namja Town used to have an ice cream museum called “Ice-Cream City.” The attraction (which has now ended), displayed many of the country’s most bizarre flavours: snake ice-cream, soy sauce, soft serve with fried oysters, sea urchin ice-cream, beer-flavoured soft serve, grilled eggplant, cow tongue, and even salad ice-cream (with cucumbers).
  6. In Japan, there are several Cat Cafés where you can drink coffee and hang out with cats for hours. All you need to do is to pay a cover charge, buy yourself a drink, and observe a few rules on how to pet the cats. These speciality cafés are scattered all over Tokyo, giving you plenty of time to play with the kitties in between your sightseeing activities.


RWC2010 - Did you Know?


Getting around

  1. Japanese trains are among the world’s most punctual: their average delay is just 18 seconds. If the train does not come within one minute of the scheduled time (without announcements of the train being late), you will see the Japanese anxiously looking at their watches.
  2. Most streets in Japan have no name. Rather than streets having names (the space in between blocks), they give blocks numbers and leave the space in between the blocks, streets, nameless. This is because of the Japanese addressing system. When written in Japanese characters, addresses start with the largest geographical entity and proceed to the most specific one. When written in Latin characters, addresses follow the convention used by Western countries and begin with the smallest geographic entity (typically a house number) and proceed to the largest.

RWC2010 - Did you Know?


Music & lyrics

  1. The term karaoke means “empty orchestra” in Japanese. Kara means ’empty, void’ and ookesutora means ‘orchestra’ and is an English loan word in the Japanese language.
  2. The sound of swaying stalks in the Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama has been voted to be a governmentally recognised sound. The rustling, creaking, and swaying of the bamboo is a unique Japanese soundscape.

Festivals & celebrations

  1. The annual Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival is the largest display in the capital and involves more than 22,000 fireworks. The history of the Sumida River Fireworks Festival dates back to 1733 and is today one of the most famous festivals in Tokyo.
  2. The Japanese have a television forecast for the cherry blossom season, which is late March to early April. The televised Cherry Blossom Forecast offers a petal-by-petal analysis of the advance of the blooms as they sweep from south to the north. When the flowers actually arrive (as confirmed by teams of meticulous cherry blossom officials), it is time to indulge in one of the nation’s all-time favourite pastimes, hanami, which translates to “looking at flowers” and refers to flower appreciation picnics under the blooms.

RWC2010 - Did you Know?



  1. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is an active volcano. One of the three holy mountains of Japan, Mt Fuji is a product of the subduction zone that straddles Japan, which drives the seismicity that occurs so frequently in the country.

Quirks & culture

  1. Black cats are considered to bring good luck in Japan. In the pre-modern era, black cats represented good fortune and prosperity in business. In the Edo period, there were some superstitions such as that you could recover from tuberculosis if you had a black cat pet, and it was even capable of curing your worries about love.
  2. Geisha means ‘person of the arts’ and the first geisha were actually men. The history of the male geisha dates back to the 13th century, when jesters advised feudal lords on practical matters, and entertained the court with various artistic performances. Female geisha only made their appearance in 1751, and their popularity snowballed so quickly that it took less than 25 years for female geisha to outnumber their male counterparts.

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