This page originally appeared on my Rugby Guide Japan website, providing information for rugby fans attending 2019 Rugby World Cup matches in Japan. It may still be useful for future visitors, so I’ve moved it here after taking the rugby site down; Rugby Guide Japan is archived here if you want to check it out.
The impressive UFO-like Oita Bank Dome is the venue for the quarterfinals between teams from pools C & D, following 3 pool stage matches. The 40,000 capacity isn’t one of the largest in the tournament, but architecturally it’s probably the best of the lot (the work of famed architect Kisho Kurokawa).
It’s actually one of the least conveniently located RWC venues, a 45-minute bus ride from Oita Station (or a boring 1-hour walk from the minor Takio Station, which I’ve done – not recommended!)
Match day buses will be provided for ticket holders, allow plenty of time as you may have to wait your turn. Full access details can be found here; note that you need reservations for park & ride if you want to drive your own vehicle.
How to Get to Oita Bank Dome
Oita is 2 to 2.5 hours from Fukuoka on the Sonic express train; if coming by shinkansen from points east (Osaka etc), change one stop before Fukuoka at Kokura from where it’s 90 minutes to Oita on the Sonic. If coming from Fukuoka you can first jump on the shinkansen to Kokura (15 mins) and switch to the Sonic there – whether this gets you there faster or the same time depends on the connection, so check your departure time on Hyperdia (for how to use Hyperdia see here). Obviously it costs more if you use the shinkansen, but if you’re travelling by JR Pass it makes no difference.
Remember there’s also a 45-minute bus ride out to the stadium from Oita Station, see here for stadium access details.
Oita has a small airport with flights from Tokyo (90 mins), Osaka (1 hour), and Incheon (Korea, 90 mins). Use Kayak to search for flights.
Note that if you stay in Fukuoka for a match at Oita getting back should be fine for afternoon matches (Australia v Uruguay and the QFs), but the last train to Fukuoka leaves at 21:43 so it’s pretty dodgy for getting back to Fukuoka after the NZ v Canada and Wales v Fiji matches due to the later kick off times.
October 2 New Zealand vs Canada
October 5 Australia vs Uruguay
October 9 Wales vs Fiji
October 19 QF (1C vs 2D)
October 20 QF (1D vs 2C)
Hotels near Oita Bank Dome
Just 10 minutes from Oita by train is Beppu, a hot spring resort town known throughout Japan for the healing properties of its waters – if you’re going to stay in the area, a Ryokan in Beppu is probably a good choice.
Here are some Hotels Combined search links for Oita:
To stay in Oita itself search here
To stay in neighbouring Beppu search here
If you’re going to visit Aso and plan to stay there search here
Airbnb is also a great option in Japan, in fact in Japan it seems to work particularly well – most hosts arrange self-checkin & checkout systems, allowing you to arrive & leave flexibly without needing to meet someone for the keys (the key’s often left in a lockbox for you). The wifi is always super-fast, and I’ve never had an Airbnb nightmare in Japan (have had a few elsewhere). There was a crackdown in 2018 with the introduction of new regulations which led to a collapse in the number of listings available and accordingly a jump in prices, with a lot of travellers reporting that their reservations were suddenly cancelled as a result. It was all a bit of a mess at first, but you can be confident that any listings remaining on there at this point are legit. Prices went up unfortunately, but then so did standards, and Airbnb is still my usual go to for accommodation in Japan.
New users can get a $35 discount from their first Airbnb rental through Rugby Guide Japan, simply click here and sign up.
Transportation in Oita
Oita & Beppu are directly next to each other on the JR train line, one stop (5 mins) on the Sonic express or 3 stops (12 mins) on local trains. Local transportation around the two towns is mostly by bus, and also on the train line connecting them; the local bus companies are Oita Kotsu and Kamenoi Bus, and IC cards are accepted for the train and Oita Kotsu buses. See here for stadium access details.
Things to Do in Oita
Oita is famous throughout the country for its onsen (hot springs), and Beppu in particular is the onsen capital of Japan. Ask any Japanese what to do there, and the verdict will be unanimous – relax and go for a soak. Note: many onsen still refuse entry to tattooed individuals (due to an association with Japanese organised crime), but realising many visiting rugby fans will have tattoos (that have nothing to do with the yakuza!) Beppu has compiled a list of tattoo-friendly options, see here. You can also visit Tenku Spa with an open air pool on the 19th floor above Oita Station, see here
The Funai Castle ruins are a 15-minute walk north of Oita Station, the main keep is long gone but the partially reconstructed walls & turrets are the focal point of a city park still surrounded by the original castle moat. The well-rated Oita Prefectural Art Museum’s a 10-minute walk west of the castle park, or 15 minutes from Oita Station.
Mt Aso, or Aso-san, is a beautiful volcanic caldera in the middle of Kyushu, lying halfway between Kumamoto & Oita and easily reached from both. It takes around 2 hours to reach Aso Station from either direction, so while it is doable as a long day trip it’s better to stay a night or two if you can (search Aso rooms here). The caldera itself is huge, some 25km across, with a series of volcanic cones at its centre. They’re very much active, but conditions permitting you can go right to the Nakadake crater rim by ropeway or on foot (a 30-minute hike or quick ropeway ride from the bus stop, which is a 30-minute bus ride from Aso Station). It’s one of the easiest active volcanic craters you can visit anywhere on Earth, and you’re treated to views (and smells) of the crater lake and the clouds of poisonous gas it emits. Note that if the gas emissions (or other volcanic activity) are too high, access to the crater is closed off so check before heading all the way there.
It’s a 2-hour bus ride to Aso from Kumamoto Station, see here & here. The train line was damaged in the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake and is unlikely to be running again by the time of the World Cup. From the other direction it’s a 3.5-hour bus ride from Beppu (see here), or you can take the train from Beppu or Oita. It takes about 2h15 from Oita by local train (2130 yen), while the limited express Aso Boy is 20 minutes faster for 3580 yen; obviously if you have the JR Pass just take the limited express.
Any questions about watching the rugby in Oita? Give me a shout below and I’ll get back to you.
Useful Links for Rugby Matches at Oita Bank Dome
Click the banner to pre-order your JR Pass and save 40 dollars, or check out my JR Pass guide:
Check train times on Hyperdia (see here for an explanation on how to use it)
Search for hotels in Oita, hotels in Beppu, hotels in Aso
How to get online in Japan
Check out my Japan posts and Japan travel guide