Tokyo: Immerse yourself in the deep history of the Olympic Games

April 13, 2022

TOKYO– The Olympic Museum of Japan offers an exciting interactive exhibit that allows visitors to measure their own physical prowess against the physical abilities of elite Olympians.

Adjacent to the National Stadium in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, the interactive museum strives to help visitors better understand the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A video screen on the Welcome Vision exhibit near the entrance to the museum shows powerful and dynamic athletes running on an all-weather track, and their graceful movements on the ice. The video only focuses on the shadows of the athletes, with no hint of their skin color.

The video “expresses the spirit of the Olympic Charter, which prohibits any form of discrimination,” said museum curator Shotaro Masubuchi.

The Olympic flag used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the torches used in the relays over the years are displayed in the regular display area on the second floor.

Visitors to the museum can be overwhelmed by the sheer history of the Olympics.

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special for Yomiuri Shimbun
The Olympic flag used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics is on display at the museum.

For example, the exhibition also displays objects of great historical value, such as the official poster of the 1940 Tokyo Olympics which never took place and which later became known as the “Missing Olympics”, a model of the planned 100,000-seat Olympic Stadium. for 1940 at the Komazawa Athletics Ground and the Candidature File that Tokyo submitted as part of its bid to win the right to host the 1964 Games.

A device that projects images onto the floor and walls allows visitors to experience the stride and running speed of Usain Bolt and other athletes. It became popular among visitors as a way to “challenge” Olympic athletes.

Many visitors stop in front of the monitor at the end of the floor, where they can witness the stories of past contestants through video.

One of the most impressive stories featured in the video is that of Vera Caslavska from Czechoslovakia, gold medalist in gymnastics at the 1964 Games, who has been called “a beautiful flower that bloomed at the Tokyo Olympics”.

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Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special for Yomiuri Shimbun
A video story featuring gymnast Vera Caslavska

In 1968, the former communist country in Eastern Europe experienced a democratic movement known as the “Prague Spring”, but the Soviet Union and other countries launched a military intervention.

At the Mexico Games that same year, Caslavska, who tied with a Soviet athlete for the gold medal, turned away during the awards ceremony in protest as the flag was raised to the sound of the Soviet national anthem.

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Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special for Yomiuri Shimbun
A statue of Pierre de Coubertin, the “father of the modern Olympics”

The museum has five themes: discover, learn, feel, try and think. Stories from former athletes can really help visitors reflect on the world today.

Olympic Museum of Japan

The museum opened in 2019. Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, is the director of the museum.

Address: 4-2 Kasumigaokamachi, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (last entry at 4.30 p.m.). Closed Mondays (or Tuesdays when Monday falls on a public holiday).

Admission: ¥500 for adults, ¥400 for groups of 20 or more, and seniors 65 or older. Free for high school and younger students.

Naomi C. Amerson