In the bars and clubs of downtown Tokyo, the words and melody of Swing Low Sweet Chariot are fast becoming familiar to the locals.
That and the adapted anthem “Rugby’s coming home, it’s coming home…” are echoing around the city as excited England fans fly in for the Rugby World Cup final.
On Saturday more than 20,000 are expected at Yokohama stadium 22 miles away for the showdown with South Africa. Others have arrived without tickets, hoping against hope to bag a place or – failing that – just be here to drink in the atmosphere.
“Tickets are like gold dust,” said one fan at the Hub bar in the buzzing Shinjuku district. Touts are asking up to £10,000 for entry to the game, which kicks off at 9am UK time.
Calum Peters, 15, from Cambridge, is here with his parents. He has a ticket for the Wales v Zealand “bronze” match but not for the final.
“It’s been brilliant – the Japanese people have really taken the World Cup to their hearts,” he said. Dom and Kay Allen managed to get tickets online before leaving home in Burnley on Wednesday. “Its such a privilege to be here,” said Dom, 46. “I wouldn’t sell my ticket for anything.”
Ulrich van Eck, 50, is among the ticketless hopefuls, but he’s flown out to cheer on South Africa. He decided to book flights while sitting at home on Bishop’s Stortford, Herts, on Tuesday. “I just decided I wanted to be here,” he explained. “It’s the biggest game in world rugby.”
After their dominance over the All Blacks, England are the clear favourite with Japanese bookies. And most of this nation will be supporting our boys because head coach Eddie Jones, affectionately known as Eddiesan, has a Japanese mother, a Japanese wife and he coached the Japan team to victory against South Africa in 2015.
Back at home, pubs are set to be packed with fans glued to the big TV screens. Around 5,000 will open early for the 9am start, according to sports bar app Matchpint. Wetherspoons says 860 of its 900 bars will be open from 8am. And the British Beer and Pub Association forecasts that fans could down an extra million pints if England pull off a victory.
Ice rinks, shopping malls, racecourses and even churches are erecting giant screens and more than 10million fans will tune in at home.
Supermarkets have geared up for a late dash for supplies, even though Asda has seen a surge in beer sales of 26% in the past week as fans stock up.
The store giant even predicts it will sell an extra 72,000 sausages – one for every seat in the International Stadium in Yokohama where the crucial encounter will play out on Saturday.