Otaru Canal in Hokkaido.
Otaru Canal in Hokkaido.
Image: 123RF/Tasch8790

All eyes will be on the tiny Pacific island of Japan his September as it plays host to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Land Rover will be there too, as global partner to the world’s biggest rugby spectacle and proud partner to our own boys in green and gold. 

Before the Springboks head off to the land of the Rising Sun, why not plan your own visit? Because we’re Wanted, we’ve curated the coolest, smartest and most unique itinerary for you – taking inspiration from the Range Rover Sport.

Designed for beauty and for performance, the fuel-efficient sports SUV’s technology is leagues ahead of the rest, and it is just as comfortable cruising around the city as it is negotiating tricky terrain. 

Defined by volcanoes and hot springs, Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost prefecture. It’s arguably the least developed of the country’s four main islands, and as a result, there are many areas that are not as easy to get to. But there’s a lot of it to explore — it’s reportedly about 37 times the size of Tokyo. 

1. CONSIDERED DESIGN | THE ROYAL EXPRESS 

The Royal Express, a luxury tourist train that currently runs between Yokohama and the coastal town of Shimoda, is adding a Hokkaido route in 2020 for a limited run. The eight-car train, designed by the award-winning industrial designer Eiji Mitooka, is characterised by open-style trolley cars, homey interiors, and Japanese kumiko- style wooden latticework, and offers breathtaking views. Even children have been considered in terms of design: seating is raised so little ones are also able to enjoy the view.

Hokkaido, Japan
Hokkaido, Japan
Image: Supplied

2. SMALL AND FUTURISTIC | CAPSULE LIVING 

Accommodation can require a princely capital outlay when touring Japan, especially for those who favour aesthetics. Which is why capsule hotels, or kapuseru hoteru, have become popular alternatives and a novel travel experience. The world’s first capsule hotel, the Capsule Inn Osaka, opened in 1979 and has seen the invention pop up in many iterations all over the world. The compartments, neatly stacked adjacent to and on top of each other, are roughly 2m long and 1m wide.

A capsule hotel in Japan.
A capsule hotel in Japan.
Image: 123RF/James Kelley

Some allow only male or female guests while others are mixed, but perhaps the most interesting talking point (besides being separated by a paper-thin wall from your hopefully not-snoring neighbour) is some of the etiquette expected of guests. These include covering up your tattoos when bathing, swapping out your shoes for slippers, and no plus-ones allowed in your capsule.

3. VISIONARY ARCHITECTURE | MÊME EXPERIMENTAL HOUSE 

Même Meadows in Hokkaido is a research facility set up to study design responses to the region’s harsh climate. It’s a great example of star Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s work. He won a 2019 Wallpaper* Design Award for his crackled Yakisugi vases and glasses, and his wooden lattice design was selected as the winner of the National Stadium design for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 

Même Meadows in Hokkaido.
Même Meadows in Hokkaido.
Image: Supplied

The concept features an oval stadium with rings of trees, a wood-and- steel roof representing traditional Japanese architecture, and exposed terraces. Kuma was also responsible for Scotland’s first design museum, V&A Dundee (designed to look like a jagged cliff), and is using the 3D modelling tools that were developed to create its unique shape to build the Olympic stadium too. “The goal of design of our period is to combine nature and new technology,” he told design magazine Dezeen.

Visit the Land Rover website for more information. Join the #DriveBeyond conversation on Twitter and Instagram.

This article was paid for by Land Rover, proud vehicle partner to the Springboks.

© Wanted 2019 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.
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