Hot Restaurants for Japan’s First Rugby World Cup


WordsSolenn Cordroc'h

The rugby world cup has been running at full steam since 20 September. In honour of its ninth edition taking place in Asia for the first time, Pen Magazine has devised a list of traditional restaurants situated in match cities from Fukuoka to Tokyo. While swathes of tourists swarm the streets, showing up in support, these spots offer a moment of calm and some decent food. 


©Yuichiro Hirakawa

In the city of Fukuoka, a narrow street hides an izakaya honouring the culinary traditions of the Edo period. With only bar seating available looking over the team of chefs, you can watch them expertly sharpen their knives to cut off small slivers of sashimi. The fish, freshly delivered every day, is prepared with the greatest care before being served in a number of different ways. One of Fukuoka’s star specialities, hot on the menu here at Teradaya, is the goma-saba, a mackerel sashimi served in sweet and sour sesame sauce. The discreet jazz soundscape only adds to the calming atmosphere of the space, accentuated by friendly chatter and laughter. 

Iwashi-ryori Inase

©Yuichiro Hirakawa

Situated in Oita, this izakaya is a unique type of space, specialised in sardines (iwashi), a strong-tasting favourite in Japan. The owner of the space, M. Inagaki, is dedicated to sourcing his sardines from the Japanese coastline, selecting only the best fish from the day’s haul to serve up in his restaurant. Among the six dishes that make up the menu, sardines are served as sashimi, skewers and satsuma-age (a kind of fried-fish cake typical of the Kagoshima region). The fish is generally accompanied by shochu, a distilled alcohol made from rice, barley, buckwheat, sweet potato or brown sugar. 

Hakumai Bento Namiroku

©Jun Hasegawa

Among the tentacular sprawl of the Tokyo megalopolis the choice of restaurants is so extensive that it is worth taking all the advice you can get to try and find that rare gem. For the most traditional bento, try Hakumai Bento Namiroku, with over 140 years of expertise, it is a must for a take out lunch. In their well furnished lunch boxes you’ll find a number of colourful and fresh ingredients, with omelette, grilled miso swordfish, sweet potato purée, grilled vegetables and plum marinated pickles, all accompanied with sticky steam cooked rice and azuki beans. 

Uni Bento

©Jun Hasegawa

Found within the Kuji station in the Iwate prefecture, this little shopfront is open every day from 7am to serve early risers sea urchin bentos. However, only 20 dishes are prepared by the ageing chef, and not a single more, so the only option is to wake up at the crack of dawn if you hope to get your hands on one. 

Ayuya Sandai Bento Box

©Jun Hasegawa

In Kumamoto station’s renowned restaurant, awarded the best Ekiben in Kyushu for three years running, the speciality is bento with rice cooked in fish stock and garnished with sweet boiled fish. The recipe has been perfected over the years and has earned the restaurant a loyal clientele.