Tokyo Stadium will get the ninth Rugby World Cup underway, hosting the opening match and a spectacular opening ceremony (Getty/WorldRugby)

Fans at Tokyo Stadium, along with a worldwide television audience, are set to be captivated by a truly spectacular and unique opening ceremony as Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off on Friday in Tokyo.

Combining the ancient with the modern, the opening ceremony will draw on deeply symbolic Japanese cultural references to illustrate the passion, expectation and excitement the people of Japan have for the tournament.

Encapsulated in the theme of a Japanese festival, the ceremony tells the story of the mythical dawn of time, rugby’s origins and its arrival in Japan, and the blossoming of Rugby World Cup into today’s global celebration, as the ninth edition breaks new ground by being hosted in Asia for the first time.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The waiting is over, and the stage is set for what promises to be a very special Rugby World Cup. It all begins with a spectacular opening ceremony and our advice to fans is take your seats early and enjoy the show before the hosts Japan get the tournament underway against Russia.”

Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 Organizing Committee CEO Akira Shimazu added: “The message of our opening ceremony is that connections made through sport, through both its simplicity and universal appeal, can help build better understanding and friendship by inspiring people of all nations with the promise of a bright, positive future. Rugby has the power to unite through its ethos of respect, inclusion and integrity and our sincerest hope is that the tournament has this effect. From rugby enthusiasts to fans of Japanese culture, the opening ceremony has something for everybody, setting the scene for an unforgettable tournament.”

The opening match between Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium kicks off at 19.45 JST. Fans are encouraged to take their seats any time from 17:00 on-wards to catch a special pre-match show and the spectacular opening ceremony. The program will kick-off with an exhibition flight by Blue Impulse, the aerobatics squadron of the Japanese Air Self Defense Force. This will be followed by various performances, with the opening ceremony commencing at 18:30.