New Zealand's giant inflatable Rugby Ball opened to the public
in Tokyo yesterday and is already generating a huge amount of
The opening of the Ball under the high profile Tokyo Tower site
was covered by over 100 journalists from Japan's eleven national
television stations, eleven national newspapers and more than forty
The television coverage has been viewed
by an audience estimated to be well over 34 million, while the
newspapers have a total readership of 30 million.
The opening was the lead story on
Yahoo's Japanese site, which is the most viewed website in Japan
with hundreds of millions of hits every day.
The coverage caused a spike in Tourism
New Zealand's website for Japan, doubling the number of users from
1500 to 3000 today. Hundreds of locals queued to see the
spectacular audio visual display inside the Ball to learn more
about New Zealand.
National Television channel, Nippon TV,
also broadcast the weather live from the Giant Rugby Ball yesterday
Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton said the
interest in the Ball has been phenomenal.
"The purpose of this seven day project is to promote New Zealand
now and for the Rugby World Cup. Within one day that promotion has
been more than we could have expected and we still have a week to
The Ball was formally opened on Wednesday by Prime Minister and
Minister of Tourism John Key. The opening united Japanese and New
Zealand cultures, with a formal Māori mihi whakatau, or welcome,
which Shinto Priests responded to with their own formal
During the seven days the Ball is open, it will play host to a
series of public and private events aimed at promoting New Zealand
as a place to visit, work and do business with. It will also host
functions which will showcase New Zealand cuisine.
Students participate in haka lessons inside
the giant Rugby Ball Venue in Tokyo.