Higashi-Osaka’s Hanazono Stadium is one of the few dedicated rugby venues being used in 2019, and prides itself on being ‘the sacred ground of Japanese rugby’.
There are little signs of rugby fever everywhere in the detail of the road signs & manhole covers and so on, and even a small Shinto shrine dedicated to rugby in the area.
Hanazono is the home ground of Kintetsu Liners, one of the big teams of Japan’s Top League, and has been undergoing renovations to get it ready for the World Cup.
Kintetsu is actually a railway company, and you’ll be using their train to get to the stadium – take the Kintetsu Nara line from Osaka-Namba Station to Higashi Hanazono, and the stadium’s a 10-minute stroll north of the station.
You can also transfer to the Kintetsu Line from the JR Loop Line at Tsuruhashi (this is the best route with a JR Pass), or from the subway at Nippombashi, Tanimachi 9-chome, or Tsuruhashi.
Where to Stay for Rugby Matches at Hanazono Stadium
The Namba/Shinsaibashi area is the obvious choice, both for ease of access to the stadium (direct on the Kintetsu Line from Namba Station) and for proximity to shopping, dining, and nightlife. The Umeda area (near Osaka Station) is also lively and well-connected (you can take the JR Loop Line to Tsuruhashi and switch to Kintetsu there). The Shin-Osaka area isn’t really recommended unless you want to be as close as possible to the shinkansen line, in which case it’s perfect e.g. if you’re planning day-trips to Hiroshima, Himeji, Kyoto, etc
Use Hotels Combined to search all the booking websites (Booking.com, Agoda, etc) for the best deals:
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.
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