With so many All Blacks relocating to Japan to play rugby this season — including Beauden Barrett, Ardie Savea and Sam Cane — how do their families adjust to their new home?
Kindy, feeding deer, visiting temples, naked in onsen hot spring pools, and kava ceremonies are all part of how All Blacks players and their families are adjusting to living life in Japan for the Japanese rugby season.
Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Richie Mo’unga and Brodie Retallick are just some of the professional rugby players enjoying playing rugby in the land of the rising sun.
Barrett, wife Hannah and young daughters Billie and baby Coco, have adjusted well to life in the city of Nagoya and so have Smith, his wife, Teagan, and their young sons, Luka and Leo.
Nagoya is near the small town of Toyota, where Barrett and Smith’s team Toyota Verblitz is based; Barrett is playing the season while on sabbatical from the ABs, while Smith has a multi-year deal.
This week Hannah shared how she and Teagan and their children were adjusting to everyday life in Nagoya on her Instagram story.
“Kindy drop-off with 4 kids, thank god for my people mover,” wrote Barrett.
Taking to her Instagram broadcast channel — Chats with Han — Hannah told fans last week that it was Billie’s first time back at kindergarten, having been off since mid-December.
Both families have immersed themselves in the culture. Japanese dining has been enjoyed in abundance, as have the lollies available at the local convenience stores.
Hannah has also played dress-ups with Billie in beautiful kimonos, and she has been keeping followers up to date on her TikTok platform with scenes from Japan.
A stand-out was a visit to her local Japanese hot springs onsen pools in Nagoya.
Barrett shared that the women’s onsen had a large array of indoor and outdoor pools of all temperatures, that she wished were available in New Zealand. She explained that she could not take her phone to show her followers the pools, as everyone is “butt naked”. She said for her, the first few minutes were a bit awkward, as she is not used to being naked in front of strangers, but in the end, she found it “liberating as hell”.
This year Hannah has also enjoyed a night out with visiting girlfriends singing karaoke, and last weekend the Barrett family took a weekend trip to Osaka. The Ritz-Carlton was a highlight, with the pair celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, which Hannah confessed they both only remembered on the actual morning.
It’s currently winter in Japan, but the Smiths were prepared for the cold days after living in Dunedin. They enjoyed the local playgrounds and walks through beautiful parks in what Teagan has described as freezing temperatures.
To the south, in the city of Kobe, Ardie Savea, wife Saskia and their children, Kobe, Keeon and Kove, are enjoying their new lives in a new city, as is team-mate Brodie Retallick, and his wife Niki Thompson, a nurse, and daughters Sienna and Frankie May.
Savea and Retallick are playing for the Kobelco Kobe Steelers. It is Retallick’s second stint with the team after spending a two-year sabbatical with them following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Retallick has posted a series of Instagram pictures with his daughters — around outdoor fires in the snow, with farm animals, at an aquarium and also dressed up for karate.
Savea and Saskia enjoyed a mum-and-dad getaway, seeing the sights of Kyoto at the end of December, and the couple have also celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in Japan.
Saskia has posted pictures of the Japanese family’s time so far, which include visiting temples and gaming arcades, enjoying time in Osaka, and feeding deer, which she said was one of their favourite things to do.
Saskia brought the kids home to New Zealand this week, telling her followers they would return to Kobe in March.
Since his family left, Savea has shown followers of his Instagram broadcast channel, ASAV, videos and pictures of him with team-mates. In one video, which the former AB captain captioned “balance with my brothers in Japan”, it showed the boys with Red Bull cans, masses of chocolate, and what looked to be kava being ladled out from a non-traditional punchbowl.
Meanwhile, in one of the world’s biggest cities, former AB captain Sam Cane is playing for Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath, while former ABs Richie Mo’unga and Shannon Frizell are playing for Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo.
They’re also sharing their lives with their Instagram followers. Cane, wife Harriet and 1-year-old son Hudson have been visiting beautiful temples and Japanese gardens, while Mo’unga showed that he and wife Sophie and their two young children, Billie Marie and Marley, have been enjoying a relaxed time in parks and on trains in the big smoke.