The all-new Tokyo Olympic Museum opened in mid-September last year and is located across the road from the Japan National Stadium (Kokuritsu kyōgijō) which hosted it’s inaugural sporting event – the 2019 Emperor’s Cup final – on January 1st this year.
will may host the Olympics next year in terms of the opening and closing ceremonies, and the track and field events. If the games do actually go ahead then it’ll be the first time the country has seen Olympic action since it last hosted in 1964. Back then, Komazawa Olympic Park was used for events such as wrestling, field hockey, football and volleyball. The main stadium, which has a capacity of 20,010, is used today for women’s and amateur men’s football games, and it’s architecture still looks impressive from the outside.
There’s a memorial tower of 1964 Tokyo Olympics nearby on the huge open concrete space known as Central Square.
On the other side of the square is Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground and within that lies the “other” Olympic Museum in Tokyo. The word museum may be stretching it a bit as it’s officially known as the Tokyo Olympic Memorial Gallery.
Stairs lead down to the free museum area and the first thing that strikes you on entry is maybe the measurements on a wall which show how both high jumpers and pole vaulters go on average. Photography is not allowed in the museum but one couldn’t help take a sneaky picture or ten including this one (below) of the route that the Olympic torch took around the country.
As the name suggests it’s an area featuring (mostly) Japanese-related pictures from Olympic games of the past. If you’ve ever watched the Olympics on Japanese TV you might be forgiven for thinking only Japanese athletes are competing as very little coverage is given to anyone else. Of course there’s always going to be a bias towards domestic coverage but it would be nice to see some other stuff that maybe doesn’t feature someone representing Japan!
Likewise for this gallery. I don’t expect much but perhaps a photo or two of some great Olympians from overseas wouldn’t go amiss.
The highlight for me of the original Tokyo Olympic Museum inside the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, which I visited in 2009, were the old Japan uniforms and that was probably the case here too with a display exhibiting three different outfits that were worn during the 1964 games.
There’s a few other bits and pieces on show but all-in-all it’s fairly limited. Not so much of a surprise given that it’s free!
Posters from all previous Olympic games are displayed in order which was a nice touch.
I didn’t realise it at the time but I went to this place at the start of the month when Tokyo 2020 would’ve been underway had the games not been postponed till next year due to the outbreak of Covid_19. Instead of watching some live track cycling at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka (one of a few sports to be held outside of the capital) I was here looking at this gallery!
This place is by no means an essential stop on the Olympic trail in Tokyo but it’s a vast and spacious park not so from the centre of the city which has lots going on in it, and if you do visit then you may as well pop in to see these Olympic exhibits to whet your appetite for the Olympics. Will they actually take place though? At the moment it’s difficult to see them happening at all but time will tell!
- Komazawa Olympic Park is a ten minute walk south of Komazawa-Daigaku Station on the Denentoshi Line which is eight minutes from Shibuya Station.
Bonus: There are three themed children’s playgrounds dotted around the park. Horse Park, Pig Park and Squirrel Park make up the trio with the middle one shown in more detail in the recent ‘Interesting Japanese Playground Structures #28‘ post.
Here are a couple of pictures of the other two.
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