Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture
The literal hottest city in the country and home of one of Japan's three great Shoden temples!
Kumagaya’s recently redeveloped Rugby Stadium will host three games at the 2019 Rugby World Cup: Russia vs. Samoa, Georgia vs. Uruguay and Argentina vs. the USA. Just on the outskirts of northern Tokyo, Kumagaya is known for having one of the most beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots in Saitama Prefecture.
Since the ’90s Kumagaya has been known for being the hottest city in all of Japan reaching temperatures of 41 degrees during the summer.
Don’t sweat it though, it’ll be cooler during autumn when the rugby games are on!
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium
The Kumagaya Rugby Stadium was built in 1991 but has been completely refurbished ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The stadium is home to Japan’s top league team, the Panasonic Knights and is a favorite of Japanese rugby fans. It has a 24,000 seat capacity.
What to do before the Rugby World Cup
Hoshikawa Aozora Market (Oct. 6)
You’ll find a variety of seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables, coffee beans, kimchi, and flowers for sale at this local farmers market. It’s a great way to support the local community and only a quick bus ride away from the stadium!
- 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- 2 Chome-2 Hoshikawa, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0043 - Map
What to eat
The local go-to delicacy is Kumagaya udon which you may find flavored richer than any udon noodles you’ve had before. Try it at the restaurants below.
Right inside Kumagaya Station! Due to its convenient location, it’s extremely popular among locals. Definitely worth the long line!
- Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- 1-2-115 Tsukuba, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0037 - Map
A well-established udon shop that has over 100 years of experience. Ultrathin udon noodles made with special Kumagaya wheat is the most popular item on the menu.
- Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Closed on Sundays
- 2-20, Tsukuba, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0037 - Map
Another signature dish is inarizushi which is a type of vegan sushi made of slightly sweet deep-fried tofu bags filled with vinegared rice.
Shoten Sushi is the best shop for inarizushi. Although the small shop is takeout only, there are a few benches out front for you to munch your sushi on.
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
- 1515 Menuma, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0201 - Map
A sweetened rice cake roll coated in roasted soybean powder to satisfy your sweet tooth. This rural delight is a popular Kumagaya souvenir.
Horiuchi Seika has been selling gokabo for over 130 years!
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or until they sell out of sweets. Closed on Sundays.
- 2 -15 Honcho, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0042 - Map
Nearby sightseeing around Saitama
Menuma Shodenzan Temple
One of Japan’s three great Shoden temples, the Shodendo Hall found inside is a national treasure and overwhelmingly powerful piece of architecture. The temple is home to the god of marriage, so if you’re looking for love it might be worth praying here. Shoten Sushi is within walking distance from here, making it perfect to visit around lunchtime.
- Hours and fees: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Ground admission is free. Shodendo Hall admission is ¥700.
- 1511 Menuma, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0201 - Map
- Getting there: From Kumagaya Station take the bus going towards Menuma Shodenzan (妻沼聖天前) and get off at Menumanakamachi bus stop. It's a six-minute walk from there.
The Tone River is about a 20-minute walk from Menuma Shodenzan Temple. The location is popular for cycling as it has a designated bicycle road parallel to the river with a beautiful view of the Gunma mountains.
- Menuma Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0201 - Map
- Getting there: A 20-minute walk from Menuma Shodenzan Temple will get you there.
How to get there
- Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Kumagaya Station. From there, you can take a bus to the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.
- About an hour and 40 minutes away via the Tohoku Expressway.