Tokyo Olympics 2020

IMG_0415I visited London several times in the years leading up to their Olympic Games and recall seeing souvenirs and signage all over town promoting the big event. So I was expecting more of the same in Tokyo this month and wanted to at least buy a T-shirt. This was not the case at all. In fact, it seemed very challenging to see any mention of the 2020 games. Then one afternoon, while walking through Shinjuku, we stumbled upon a great find and a place I recommend you visit if looking for info on the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Many guide books recommend visiting the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shijuku for a great view of the city and best of all… for free. These are two similar skyscrapers that house many of Tokyo’s government offices. Building 2 has an elevator that is used to go to the top floor observation deck. You will need to queue for a few minutes and go through security/bag check before going up on the elevator. The views at the top are about 180 degrees with Tokyo Sky Tree, Roppongi and many notable buildings clearly visible. There is a restaurant at the top that seemed to have additional views, but it was closed when we were there.

The Olympic find is on the first floor in the lobby, which I suggest you visit before or after your trip to the top. This happens to be the headquarters of the Tokyo Olympic Committee. You will see displays featuring the actual Olympic flag and the Olympic torches from the Rio Olympics. There is information and brochures regarding the upcoming games and the Paralympic Games that Tokyo is also hosting. You will also see videos and history of the Olympics. No souvenirs or T-shirts though! I was really pleased to stumble on this as there was no other 2020 Olympic reference during our trip to Japan.

We also learned of the impact the 1964 Olympic Games had on Tokyo. It was significant. The 1964 games were less than 20 years after the complete destruction of Tokyo and many parts of Japan during WW2. The Olympic Games were their coming out party and they delivered. The 1964 Olympic village was set up in Yoyogi Park and Shibuya. The games really put Shibuya on the map and this is one of the most visited areas of town today. The city thrived following the games and emerged as one of the world’s greatest cities. I believe that the 2020 Olympics will have a similar positive impact on Tokyo and Japan, where tourism will skyrocket compared to today.

When visiting the world-famous Tsukiji fish market, we learned that it is closing soon and relocating. Why? They are turning the inner market into the Olympic media center in preparation for the 2020 games. During a tour of the fish market, our guide spoke with several of the workers there and translated that they were very unhappy with the upcoming move. One of the main reasons is how well the air flow works in the fish market. This is a massive market with tons and tons of fish and yet it does not smell fishy at all. Perhaps the new market will be even better. If visiting Tokyo soon, make sure to visit the old fish market while you still can.

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