Rugby Legends in Japan “Eddie Jones” – 5 places to visit in Sapporo

Eddie Jones, head coach of the Japanese national rugby team from 2012-2015, returns to Japan and this time he’s headed to Sapporo. Now head coach of England’s rugby team, Eddie will lead England to Sapporo in 2019 for their crucial first match in the Rugby World Cup.

Sapporo experienced a major earthquake in September last year, but it bounced back without any significant problems and the city is still a great place to do some sightseeing. To support Hokkaido’s efforts to recover from the negative effects of harmful rumours and help its tourism industry recover, the great coach who has explored Japan from corner to corner has put together this list of five must-see attractions for rugby fans who will be visiting Sapporo in 2019.

The Sapporo Central Wholesale Market

Eddie’s first stop was the Crab Market. Fresh seafood products such as crabs are lined up on both sides of a street traversed by busy sightseeing buses. As Eddie peered curiously at the water tanks, a shop clerk who recognised him offered him some boiled crab to try as a treat. Eddie is no expert on crabs, but it seemed to be a type called a red king crab. The market also sells other types of crabs such as blue king crabs and horsehair crabs. The crab was tightly packed with meat, and its intense flavour blew him away. When he commented on how delicious it was, the generous, friendly clerk presented him with another special treat: he brought gloves over and let Eddie hold a live crab.

Eddie marvelled at the size – far bigger than his face – and how heavy it was.

It was a wonderful experience where he got to know both the locals and the produce.

Genghis Khan

“Genghis Khan” is a regional specialty dish from Hokkaido. It’s another name for a Mongolian mutton barbecue. There are a number of theories about how this dish found its way to Hokkaido, but since the dish is named after the historical Mongol general Genghis Khan, it is believed that when the dish arrived in Japan, Mongolians mainly ate mutton. Genghis Khan is experiencing a boost in popularity as a health food in recent years because mutton is both highly nutritious and low calorie.

When Eddie arrived at the restaurant at 5pm, there was a queue outside. Daruma is a legendary restaurant with a 65-year history that specialises in Genghis Khan. Once he sat down, the staff set plates before him and prepared a charcoal fire. While he was surprised to be served a plate of mutton and vegetables when he hadn’t ordered anything, he learned that the restaurant’s system was to bring out the first plate of food automatically. Well, when in Hokkaido, do as the locals do. He learned how to do it and grilled up some mutton. The fragrant steam from the grilling meat made his mouth water. Chowing down, he couldn’t help but grin as he tasted the savoury deliciousness of the meat.

Susukino

Susukino is the largest entertainment district in Japan, packed with thousands of restaurants and amusement facilities. When night falls, the neon lights go on and crowds of people gather, as if drawn to the light. If you’re visiting Sapporo with friends, you can all stop by a drinking establishment to enjoy the local cuisine, and if you’re with a small group you can relax at a swanky bar for a quiet round of drinks after a meal. You can most likely watch rugby matches at sports bars and pubs in September. Just imagine how exciting it will be to get fired up over rugby together with the locals!

Sapporo Ramen Yokocho (Sapporo Ramen Alley)

As one of Japan’s northern islands, Hokkaido has icy cold autumns and winters that make people crave warm food. It’s something of a custom in Japan to eat ramen after having a few drinks. That custom may be the reason why Ramen Yokocho is located in Susukino. Entering the alley revealed a stunning number of ramen restaurants. Foreign tourists walked along trying to decide which place to choose. Traditional Sapporo ramen has a mild flavour, consisting of a miso-based soup with ingredients like butter and corn in it, but people are experimenting with a variety of toppings and flavours these days.

After wandering for a while, they pushed their way through the entrance curtains of a ramen restaurant on the corner, where the manager welcomed them and told them his recommendations. They started with a soup, which quickly warmed their bodies. The manager was extremely friendly, and as they chatted pleasantly over their ramen, his hospitality warmed their hearts as well. Saying “Gochisousama” (the standard Japanese phrase for expressing gratitude after a meal) to the warmth, they left the restaurant.

Sapporo White Illumination

As he walked down the main road, the decorative illuminations caught his eye. From mid-November to Christmas day, the main street becomes the centre stage for a display of white illuminations. The whole street glows with a mystical light which is breath-taking to look at whether admired close up or from afar. Many families and couples took selfies to share on social media.

In closing, you should visit Sapporo in September and enjoy Eddie’s rugby first and foremost. Japan is a very safe country, so whether you come with your rugby pals or with your family, you’re sure to have a good time. Sapporo is also a delightful city to visit all year round, not just in September this year. You can enjoy the Sapporo Olympic Museum and the view from the Okurayama Ski Jump Observatory at any time. The snowy landscape in winter is just lovely and the Hokkaido Shrine and Fushimi Inari Shrine look especially magnificent in the snow, showing off the beauty of Japan. ‘There’s no doubt that it will be a great opportunity for you to learn about Japan and experience Japanese culture and cuisine. Try Japan!