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Yokohama Chinatown to be open late for rugby fans

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Ichiba-dori street in Yokohama Chinatown.

The Yomiuri ShimbunYOKOHAMA — Restaurants and other businesses in Yokohama Chinatown plan to stay open until midnight on nights when Rugby World Cup games are played in the city.

The RWC begins on Sept. 20 and Yokohama is hosting seven games, including the final game, at International Stadium Yokohama, also known as Nissan Stadium, in Kohoku Ward.

The Chinatown in Naka Ward hopes to entice rugby fans from Japan and around the world by hanging lanterns and creating a night market atmosphere around Ichiba-dori street where many well-known establishments are located.

The Yokohama Chinatown Development Association said that of its about 390 member shops, at least 50 plan to stay open about three hours later than their usual closing time around 9 p.m. This would be the first time for shops in Chinatown to stay open late all together and more are expected to sign on as the tournament approaches.

Many establishments are busy setting up electronic payment systems and putting English on their menus. The association is considering creating an English guide map, holding an exhibition of lion dance apparel and other projects.

The Yokohama municipal government plans to operate a free shuttle linking Nissan Stadium and the seaside district where Chinatown is located about 10 kilometers away.

Yokohama has deep ties to rugby. It is said that Asia’s first rugby team was established here in 1866 by British and other residents of the foreign settlement, close to where Chinatown is now.

Chinatown is trying to get into the World Cup mood, and has decided to build a monument to the “birthplace of rugby in Japan.”

“I want all of Chinatown excited to create a fun place for people from all over the world — young, old, men and women,” said association director Nobumasa Takahashi, 60.

Twenty countries and regions are competing in the World Cup. About 400,000 people are expected to visit Japan for the tournament being held from September to November.

In addition to the final game and both of the semifinals, four other matches are being held at Nissan Stadium, including some within Japan’s pool.Speech

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