YOUR VACATION IN JAPAN COULD INCLUDE THE OLYMPICS
In less than a year, the sporting world will descend on Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games. An estimated 600,000 overseas visitors are expected to flock to the Japanese capital and surrounding regions, and the games – as they are every four years – will be an endurance test of planning and logistics for organizers and attendees alike.
But international guests can make the most of their stay in Tokyo and help ensure the smooth operation of the games. This guide will help. When are the Tokyo Games?
Where are the venues? The 2020 Olympics will officially kick off with the opening ceremony in Tokyo on July 24, with preliminary softball and soccer matches starting on July 22, and run through Aug. 9. Following a two-week breather, the Paralympics will begin Aug. 25 and conclude Sept. 6.
The games will be held across nine prefectures, with the majority taking place in two areas of Tokyo: the Heritage Zone, using revamped buildings from the 1964 Olympics, and Tokyo Bay Zone, designed to serve as a “model for innovative urban development.”
Venues outside Tokyo include the Sapporo Dome on the northern island of Hokkaido (hosting soccer) and the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima. Is it too late to get tickets? As
of this writing, all available tickets have been sold, although subsequent rounds of ticketing are expected to take place through 2020, before the start
of the games. The Tokyo Olympics organizing committee will also host an online resale site beginning in the spring, with ticket prices capped at the original face value. Available for both foreign visitors and Japanese residents, the official resale service may provide relief for those shut out of the initial rounds of ticketing. What happens if I can’t get
tickets? Lack of tickets does not necessarily mean a lack of Olympics fun in and around Tokyo. The organizing committee has approved 30 “Live Site” venues across Japan for nonticketholders, including in areas affected by the Tohoku and Kumamoto earthquakes. These sites will feature live televised sports broadcasts, cultural events and among other programs, attendees will have the chance to try out various Olympic and Paralympic sports.
Can I post photos of events to
social media? Shortly after the first round of tickets went on sale in Japan, controversy arose over terms and conditions attached to the purchase of tickets, namely, the transfer of intellectual property rights of photos taken by attendees at Olympic events to the organizing committee.
Organizers have clarified that, while the committee is claiming copyright over photos taken by ticket holders, it will not prevent those photos from being posted to social media. Only commercial reproduction of photos will be disallowed. Controversially, however, audio and video clips taken by spectators are not permitted to be posted on social media. I can’t get over the price of the
hotels! Unsurprisingly, hotels in and around Tokyo will feature some eye-popping prices. Already, “capsule” hotels that normally run around $20 per night are advertising prices exceeding $100.
While it’s tempting to split the cost of a single room across multiple guests, it may not work. Unlike many destinations, Japanese hotels charge on a per-person, per-night rate, not simply by the room. If you reserve a double room for one adult, but show up to check-in with a travel companion, be prepared to pay up for the additional guest. Further, to comply with safety regulations, hotel rooms are limited by type in the number of guests they may have – a room rated as “single” occupancy can only have a single adult, and so on. What are my other options?
Airbnb stays in Japan have taken off to help meet the country’s tourism boom. Bookings are going fast, however, and those that remain are priced at a premium. To combat the anticipated hotel room shortfall, cruise ships are also expected to be pressed into service to serve as floating hotels. What are some meals that I absolutely must try without breaking the bank? For the best bang for the buck, head to Shinjukukappo Nakajima, or for ramen lovers, Nakiryu in Tokyo’s Toshima district – Michelin-starred restaurants where lunch sets start at under $10. Besides the games, what else should I do? For those looking for an authentic taste of Japan, a summer “matsuri” festival is a great bet. Head to Takasaki Fireworks Matsuri in nearby Gunma prefecture. Held on the first Saturday in August, the festival features elaborate dashi floats, live music and is capped off with an hourlong fireworks display, one of the largest in the region.
For the sports-minded, the famed national high school Koushien baseball tournament also runs from early to late August, with a ticket costing $8 to $20 and granting access to three to four games daily.
If you want see more of Japan while visiting for the Olympics, take a side trip to beautiful, historic Kyoto. The Heian shrine, a Shinto shrine, is a cultural site in Kyoto.
A Buddha statue sits in a garden in Tokyo. The 2020 Olympics are coming to the Japanese city next summer.