Kumagaya City, host of three Rugby World Cup games in September and October, is a great place to enjoy the last of the summer months and cool down with some outstanding frozen dessert.
Japan’s “hottest city” has a proud rugby history, spanning all the way back to 1967 when it hosted rugby matches during the National Sports Festival of Saitama. In 1991, the city cemented its alternate name as "Rugby Town Kumagaya" by constructing the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium. This stadium has now been upgraded for the Rugby World Cup with the addition of new lights, screens, and seats—making it a truly world-class stadium that holds as many as 25,000 rugby fans.
The city further committed to the experience of Rugby World Cup goers by upgrading Kumagaya’s main roads, focusing on the area around the rugby stadium. The stadium is now easy to access by car thanks to the addition of the new “Park and Ride” bay. During the Rugby World Cup, there will even be free shuttle buses connecting nearby stations to the stadium. Accessible, affordable and easy: Kumagaya City wants you to have nothing but the best time at the World Cup.
But there are many cities around Japan hosting World Cup matches. Why commit to visiting Kumagaya in particular?
Because stuffing your face with the frozen desserts unique to this city is the perfect way to end the summer! Being the hottest city in Japan, Kumagaya’s specialty food is Yukikuma: delicious, refreshing and unbelievably soft shaved ice, flavored with scrumptious toppings. In Japanese, yuki means snow—and freshly fallen snow is exactly the texture of this delicate dessert.
Yukikuma is made by shaving clear ice with specialist techniques. People from all over travel to Kumagaya City in the summer just to have a bowl of this famous shaved ice.
Yukikuma is available in 32 stores across Kumagaya City. Some vendors serve it with fresh fruit while other variations include chocolate, strawberry fromage (cream cheese), green tea and caramel, and coffee, just to name a few.
There’s even a store called Mikawaya that will be serving a rugby themed Yukikuma called the “TRY” to celebrate the Rugby World Cup. This mountain of fluffy ice is topped with a ball-shaped almond and cookies to make up the goalposts. There couldn’t be a more perfect dessert for a Rugby World Cup fanatic.
Enjoy the last embers of the summer by cooling down with this delicious Kumagaya specialty—in between catching those much-awaited matches of the Rugby World Cup, of course.
For more info on stores that sell Yukikuma, see: http://www.city.kumagaya.lg.jp/atsusataisaku/anyone/yukikumaindex/yukikuma.html
Information on access to Kumagaya Rugby Stadium can be found here: https://www.kumagaya-rugby.jp/en/access/
To access Kumagaya from Tokyo, take the JR Joetsu or Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kumagaya Station (¥3,190, approximately 40 minutes), or take the JR Takasaki Line to Kumagaya Station (¥1,140, 70 minutes).