Events set to commemorate opening of new stadium in Iwate Prefecture

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

The construction of a new stadium in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, which will host two games in the 2019 Rugby World Cup will be completed in August and celebration events are planned to open the stadium on Aug. 19, organizers announced on Tuesday at a news conference in Tokyo.

The new venue, called Kamaishi Unosumai Recovery Memorial Stadium, is located where the old Unosumai Elementary School and old Kamaishi Highashi Junior High School used to be in the town of Unosumai. The schools were severely damaged by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The new schools have been built on a nearby hill.

“It is a pleasure to announce the upcoming events to celebrate our new stadium in Kamaishi, known as a city of rugby,” Kamaishi Mayor Takenori Noda said. “Kamaishi was the only one among the 12 host cities without a stadium. Now we are ready to host the games as the representative of disaster-stricken areas and six Tohoku prefectures.”

The new stadium’s capacity is 6,000 for regular use, but it will be increased up to 16,020 with temporary seats. Kamaishi will host the Fiji-Uruguay match on Sept. 25 and one of an African qualifier and a repechage winner on Oct. 13 at the World Cup.

The opening events include an exhibition match between the Kamaishi Seawaves, the successor of the legendary Nippon Steel Kamaishi rugby team, and Yamaha Jubilo on Aug. 19. Nippon Steel Kamaishi won seven straight national championships in 1978- 1984, making Kamaishi famous for rugby.

“It is honorable to host the first game of stadium as a home team,” Kamaishi coach Yoshihiko Sakuraba said. “Yamaha was the team that came to play us only three months after the Great East Japan Earthquake. We really appreciated that and hope this match gives some momentum to the World Cup.”

Yamaha coach Katsuyuki Kiyomiya, father of Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Kotaro Kiyomiya, displayed the red jersey the team used to wear in the early years of the club that started in 1984. Jubilo wears blue jerseys now.

“We chose this color because of the respect for Nippon Steel Kamaishi club,” Kiyomiya said.”It is our mission and destiny to be invited to play the match to open the new stadium.”

Singer Ayaka Hirahara will sing her debut single “Jupiter” before the match. Along with the opening match, J-Pop group Exile’s USA and Tetsuya will host a dancing event with local students.

Tickets for the events go on sale in early June.