Shizuoka is widely known as the green tea capital of Japan, and is responsible for over 40% of Japan’s tea production. The almost magical beverage boasts many benefits, and it is often touted as a contributor to the longevity and health of the people of Shizuoka. Among its healing properties, Japanese green tea contains Catechin and Theanine which help to prevent cancer and cavities, as well as lower cholesterol, and reduce bad breath.
Kakegawa is the closest station from the Shizuoka venue of the Rugby World Cup 2019, boasts a history of innovation in tea production. Kakegawa is renowned for developing the agricultural method of "Chagusaba" (literally “tea grass field”) - wherein local grasses are grown alongside tea, and used as mulch come the winter. This is not only good for the tea - both insulating root systems and acts as an organic fertilizer - it also encourages biodiversity by providing nourishment to the soil and supports growth of many other smaller plants that would otherwise be overtaken. For this reason, Chagusuba farming in Kakegawa was designated a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System by The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in May 2013.
There are many tea plantations in Shizuoka Prefecture, that offer varieties of tea that are not only for drinking, but that can also be eaten. One of the most famous of which is, Kawane. Located on the mountainside on the upper stream of Oi river, Kawane is famous for producing refined, deep-steamed Sencha (green tea).
Around this area, there is a nostalgic steam locomotive that still operates on the Oigawa Railway. Take the train to see the huge tea plantation from aboard, or get off the train to capture the lush scenery of this tea plantation as a backdrop to the whimsical black locomotive. Surrounded in mountains, Kawane features no shortage of unforgettable natural scenery.
Traditional Japanese cuisine has grown increasingly popular worldwide in recent years. Sake being an indispensable part of which also referred to as a Japanese rice wine, sake is made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran.
To make Sake, fresh water is crucial to ensuring quality, as its ingredients are simply rice and water. In Shizuoka Prefecture, you can find sake breweries that use Mt. Fuji’s clear groundwater - derived from snow that has fallen on Mt. Fuji for countless years, in order to brew their various sake blends. A most famed example of which is Fuji Takasago Sake Brewery - a great sake brewery with about a 200-year history offering visitors to take brewery tours, sake tasting, and shopping. The brewery is located just a 10 minute walk away from Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine, Mount Fuji’s head Shinto shrine in Fujinomiya City.
Sakura shrimp, refer to a tiny cherry coloured shrimp that are a specialty of Shizuoka Prefecture. Sized about 4 – 5 cm, they are said to possess the flavour of Mount Fuji. Shizuoka is the only place in Japan where sakura shrimp can be caught; the meltwater from Mount Fuji leads to the clear streams of Fuji River, Oi River, and Abe River that flow into Suruga Bay, making it the only suitable habitat for sakura shrimp.
Thanks to their freshness, sakura shrimp can be enjoyed as sashimi, although this can only be experienced in Shizuoka. Sakura shrimp can also be eaten dried - in fact, if you are lucky, it would be a great idea to stop by the shore of Suruga bay to see the picturesque view of pink sakura shrimp being dried on the ground before the backdrop of Mt. Fuji. This occurs throughout the sunny days of late March, until early June, and again, in late October to early December. Make sure to schedule your visit accordingly when you are travelling Japan for the Rugby World Cup in 2019!
Upon taking the bullet train (shinkansen) to Kakegawa station - the location of Ecopa Stadium, which will serve as a venue for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.The first landmark you might witness is Kakegawa Castle. Kakegawa Castle is a hilltop (hirayama-type) castle, which has been listed as one of the Top 100 Castles of Japan. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of reconstructed Japanese castles. Visitors can take a tour to the castle, also have a chance to visit the Ninomaru Goten, the residence of the former Daimyo. Visitors can bask in the magnificence of his suit of armour, standing in a dimly lit corrido, museum, shops, and occasionally ninja performances.
The Ninomaru tea house, established in 2002, is located in between Kakegawa Castle and the palace, in harmony with the beautiful Japanese garden. Take a chance to enjoy a serene moment over the famous Kakegawa green tea, prepared by a tea master.
Shizuoka Prefecture boasts many hot springs resorts. It sports a collective 1,882 hotels and ryokans to be exact, making it is the prefecture with the most accommodating facilities in Japan (according to the Ministry of Environment in 2014.) Whether in Izu Peninsula scattered with scenic hot springs full of health benefits, or in Fuji area surrounded with stunning scenery, or in Western Shizuoka, amid relaxing destinations such as Enshu coast or Lake Hamana, there are no shortages of places to unwind with a healing bath after watching the rugby.
Located between Tokyo and Nagoya, Shizuoka is another prefecture that will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019. Shizuoka has earned prestige for being one of the greatest tea producers among Japan’s prefectures, as well as for its famous hot spring resorts such as Atami and Shuzenji. However, Shizuoka may better be known as the prefecture that is home to one particular world heritage site – the great Mount Fuji.
Named “The Most Beautiful Bay in The World”, Suruga Bay gives a stunning view of the highest peak of Japan, Mount Fuji. Here you can also check out the “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji “ (Fugaku Sanjurokkei) painted by the world famous ukiyo-e artist, Katsushika Hokusai. The series is a perhaps one of the most famous example of the Japanese aesthetic theme of interconnectedness with nature, depicting Mount Fuji from different locations in various seasons and weather conditions.
Along Suruga Bay, you may also find Miho no Matsubara beach. Here, there are over thirty-thousand pine trees growing across the 7km beach, offering a breathtaking view to compliment Mount Fuji all year around.
Built in 806, Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine is Mount Fuji’s head Shinto shrine. Upon entering the grounds, it is hard to resist the view of Mount Fuji, the undeniable centrepiece of the entire area. The object of the worship at this shrine is Mt. Fuji itself, so this has been thought of as sacred, attracting Japanese travellers since ancient times. The shrine can thus be seen recurrently throughout arts and literatures.
Visitors will also be enthralled by the grounds themselves, featuring a vibrant red shrine, a surrounding pond and river, and a nostalgic shopping arcade to stop by.
The former Suruga region in Shizuoka Prefecture is one of the homes of Tokugawa Ieyasu- the first shogun of the Edo Period. There, you can feel how powerful he was by visiting Kunozan Toshogu, a 400-year-old shrine dedicated in his honour. Designated a National Treasure, the main shrine building includes the Haiden (the front shrine), and Honden (the inner sanctuary) which are separated by the Ishi-no-ma, an area where priests conduct various ceremonies. At the Kunozan Toshogu museum, you can admire the Spanish clock once owned by Ieyasu, given to him by the king of Spain in the early 17th century.