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Kiwis take promotional punt over to Tokyo Tower

by Mizuho Aoki

A giant inflatable rugby ball will appear at the foot of Tokyo Tower for one week from Oct. 28 to advertise the next Rugby World Cup to be held across New Zealand in 2011, also coinciding with the first-ever Bledisloe Cup to be held in Japan — New Zealand’s All Blacks vs. Australia’s Qantas Wallabies — on Oct. 31.

The promotional event is also intended to introduce the host country as a viable vacation spot for Japan’s residents.

Organized by Tourism New Zealand, the event welcomes visitors to go on a virtual tour to experience the country’s rich culture, stunning landscapes and even catch some rugby.

Using high-tech audio-visual techniques, inside the ball is a 360-degree display that covers the entire ceiling and wall, screening images of tourist attractions and rugby-related footage.

This unique pavilion is designed by New Zealand’s Inside Out Productions who made their name with a giant three-story Louis Vuitton Trunk created for an event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the brand in 2008.

With its enormous size — 25 meters long and 13 meters high — the rugby ball can hold up to 160 people.

The ball appeared in Paris in 2007 and in London in 2008, attracting 25,000 people and 7,500 people, respectively. At its third international appearance, the organizer hopes to boost the popularity of rugby in Japan as well as to introduce New Zealand’s culture to the people living here.

There will also be some traditional Maori performances to entertain visitors. Food and cosmetics from New Zealand will also be sold inside Tokyo Tower, and guests will have a chance to win a return flight from Tokyo to New Zealand.

“A Giant Rugby Ball” opens from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3. (Oct. 28 will be open to media only) at Tokyo Tower, south side parking area. The venue is open from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. from Oct. 29-Nov. 2, except for on Oct. 31 and Nov. 3 when it will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 3. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.newzealand.com The Nissui Tokyo 2009 Bledisloe Cup kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at the National Stadium, a five-minute-walk from JR Sendagaya Station. For tickets, visit bledisloecuptokyo.net