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JA PA N


INTERNATIONAL STADIUM YOKOHAMA, YOKOHAMA A


lthough it’s just a short journey of about 20 minutes by train south of Tokyo, Yokohama has its own


distinct identity. More manageable than the sprawling capital, this city of around three million souls has numerous highlights for visitors. As one of Japan’s most important ports, the ocean plays a starring role in the life of the city and the breezy bay front with its promenades, parks and open-air dining venues is a magnet for locals and tourists alike. Other star atractions, meanwhile, include Japan’s largest Chinatown and the beautiful Sankeien Garden. More eccentric diversions, meanwhile, include the Cup Noodles Museum which, as the name suggests, provides a poted history of instant ramen noodles.


golf course:


Yokohama Country Club Golfers are spoiled for choice in Kanagawa Prefecture, of which Yokohama is the capital. A particularly prestigious test can be encountered at Yokohama Country Club, which dates to the early 1960s. Its two courses – the East and West – offer similarly magisterial golf, with cherry trees, mature deciduous trees and thick grasses creating a peaceful oasis within


viewing distance of Yokohama’s high-rise skyline. The West course was substantially reshaped in 2015 by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw of Coore & Crenshaw, who reconstructed and raised the height of every tee, reshaped greens and converted old holes into new ones. Their efforts will be showcased at the 2018 Japan Open, which will be held on a composite course at the club.


Website: yokohama-cc.jp/en/index.html Green fees: from £152


IN BRIEF


Number of golf courses near stadium: 14 Website: yokohamajapan.com Flight time from London: 11h and 40min (via Tokyo).


HANA ZONO RUGBY STADIUM, OSAK A J


apan’s third-largest city prides itself on being different. Rambunctious, brash and fast-


moving, Osaka is full of colour and is known for having some of the friendliest and funniest locals in the nation — this is the stand-up comedy capital of the country, aſter all. Although by no means a conventionally prety place, Osaka has several banner sights worth visiting including its imposing 16th-century castle, quality museums such as the National Museum of Art and Osaka Science Museum and one of the world’s most impressive aquariums. Also notable is the city’s dining scene. Osaka’s unofficial moto is kuidore (‘eat until you drop’) and that maxim is borne out in izakayas (pubs with food) and sushi bars across the city.


golf course:


Naruo Golf Club An absolute classic, Naruo Golf Club is one of a handful of gems in Japan designed by great English course architect Charles Alison. Like his other masterpieces


in the Far East (of which Hirono Golf Club near Kobe is another pinnacle), the course at Naruo would not be out of place among the great heathland courses of Surrey. At just 6,612 yards from the back tees, the course is not particularly long. However, Alison’s canny design — with heavy bunkering guarding elevated greens — makes it an exacting test even so. Especially distinctive are the four par-three holes, which all play to small elevated puting surfaces.


Website: naruogc.or.jp Length: 6,612 yards Green fees: from £103


IN BRIEF


Number of golf courses near the stadium: 11 Website: osaka-info.jp Flight time from London: 13h and 15min (via Amsterdam)


countrybycountry.com


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