If you think I’m writing about this museum before the Olympics get cancelled (and people consequently lose all interest in this place!) then you’re absolutely right! I’ve wanted to visit this place, located across from the New National Stadium, for a long time but only got round to going last week. I felt a little bad about making a reservation to go during Covid_19 times but thought I’d be the only one there. I was wrong! To my surprise there actually was another customer who arrived shortly after me.
My self-guided tour started on the second floor (¥500 entry) with a lovely view of Kokuritsu kyōgijō (Japan National Stadium); the $1.4 billion stadium with a capacity of 68,000 which
will may be used for the opening and closing ceremonies of Tokyo 2020 (the name hasn’t changed due to all the merchandise produced!) as well as the track and field action.
After watching a short video about the foundation of the games and background information about Pierre de Coubertin; the father of the modern Olympic Games. Then it was on to the Olympic torches from many of the previous Summer and Winter games.
The Japan Olympic Museum (4-2 Kasumigaokamachi, Shinjuku-ku) opened in September 2019 with the aim of “putting people at the centre of the Japanese Olympic Movement through its immersive multimedia exhibits that invite visitors to catch the Olympic Spirit and to know, feel, learn, try, and think like a champion.” That may have happened for the first six months or so but then Coronavirus began to spread and things changed in a big way meaning this museum is visited by very few people now. A shame as it’s all quite impressive though maybe a little lacking in sporting mementoes.
This creative artwork (below) shows the flags of all the competing nations for every Olympics with the anomaly being the Moscow 1980 games which were boycotted by 66 countries boycotted because of the Soviet–Afghan War.
The problem with being the only one in such a museum is the feeling that your every movement is being watched! Nowhere was that more apparent than when I (accidentally) walked by the special room about Japan’s influence on the Olympic Games and a staff member came running after me to basically force me into this room! Luckily, I was actually very keen to see this particular section.
Admittedly I can’t remember too many great Japanese competitors or Olympic moments but breaststroker Kosuke Kitajima (four gold medals in 2004 and 2008) and gymnast Kohei Uchimura (three golds and four silvers in 2012 and 2016) are two that come to mind. I really should know far more given that I’ve been in Japan for the last four Olympics where the TV coverage makes you think at times that Japan are the only country in the games as very little coverage is given to events without Japanese competitors.
The current troubles for Tokyo hosting the Olympics is unbelievably not the first time such a thing has happened. Back in 1940 Tokyo were all set to host the games but the outbreak of war put paid to that idea but the hosting preparations were then utilised for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics.
There were a few interesting interactive displays but sadly Covid_19 meant most of them were not in use so I sadly couldn’t try my hand (as I completely expected) at the likes of shooting and ski jumping. Footprint graphics appear on the piece of track below and if you tap your foot on one of them it then shows the run-up for various world-record events
Compared to the physical abilities of Olympians, my result (the grey image on the picture below) naturally paled into insignificance but I did still manage to set a new museum record for that day which was no real surprise as I was the first customer through the doors!
As you’d probably expect there’s information on all the Olympic sports as well as the official art posters of all the Olympic games thus far.
That concluded the paid part of the museum but the ground floor is free to anyone. It’s a very nice looking place but there’s nothing too exciting other than some souvenirs, ceremony outfits and the Olympic torch. What was really nice for me was just chatting with the lovely staff before leaving. They were probably just happy to actually see someone different!
There’s a cafe by the exit and outside are scale models of the Olympic flame cauldrons from Nagano 88, Sapporo 72 and Tokyo 64, as well as the Olympic rings logo with the New National Stadium in the background. It’s this Monument Area which is the most iconic and interesting for many with the symbolic Olympic rings awaiting photo opportunities.
As a Brit, the Olympics have given me so many great memories, and when I won some tickets in the lottery I was so excited about seeing those sports in Tokyo but time has moved on and there really are far more important issues at stake now.
This museum briefly reignited my passion for the Olympics but my hope for the games going ahead has pretty much gone. If they do take place, and I’m able to use my tickets then it’ll just be a bonus.
Click here to read ‘The “Other” Olympic Museum In Tokyo’
Click here to read ‘A Long & Steep Ride To Check Out The Cycle Racing Track Which Will Be Used At Tokyo 2020’
Click here to read ‘Warming Up For Tokyo 2020 Cycling With A Trip To See Some Local Keirin Action’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Olympic Museum’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo To Host 2020 Olympics’
Bonus: I was actually outside the Japan Olympic Museum on Monday 4th January (it’s closed on Mondays!) taking a few shots of the iconic rings in the foreground of the National Stadium before the Levain Cup Final between FC Tokyo and Kashiwa Reysol.
I was there to savour the pre-match atmosphere (there wasn’t any!) before the hilarious reveal of where I was really watching the game!
Sadly it wasn’t to be for Reysol though and we lost 2-1 as FC Tokyo claimed their third league cup victory in three attempts.