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Analyzing the Legacy of Olympic-Led Urbanization

For all its triumphs, the legacy of Olympic-led urban modernization in Tokyo is mixed. Following the 2021 Olympic Games, which were threatened by the ongoing global pandemic, the consequences of Olympic planning are a topic of intense public interest.
Japan Story Team
Meiji Jingu Gaien Meiji Jingu Gaien was the center of the 1964 Olympics. The collection of sport facilities that surround the central space was first developed for the 1930 Far Eastern Games and now includes Kengo Kuma’s Japan National Stadium.
Yoyogi 1st and 2nd Gymnasiums The iconic Yoyogi 1st and 2nd Gymnasiums, designed by Kenzo Tange for the 1964 Olympics, also hosted events in 2021. The adjacent Yoyogi Park was previously occupied by the 1964 Olympic Village, which itself made use of the barracks of Washington Heights, a former US military base.
Komazawa Olympic Park Once an exclusive golf club, the site of the Komazawa Olympic Park was identified as a venue for the 1940 Olympics before its cancellation. When the site was repurposed for the 1964 Games, a team led by University of Tokyo professor Eika Takayama devised a new master plan. Komazawa Olympic Park is unusual among Olympic sites for its close integration with surrounding residential districts.
Public Openness Comparison Each of the major 1964 Olympic sites has developed differently in intervening years. Each venue at Meiji Jingu Gaien is accessed, owned, and operated separately, which detracts from the coherence of the area as an athletic and culture campus. The Yoyogi 1st and 2nd Gymnasiums are operated by a single entity and flanked by public institutions. They are cut off from Yoyogi Park by a major road bridged in one location by a landscape promenade. The Komazawa Olympic Park, which is also administered as one unit, is connected to adjacent neighborhoods by a porous pedestrian network.
Transportation Development The infrastructure developed in preparation for the 1964 Olympics has had far-reaching effects on the organization of Tokyo. The construction of elevated expressways liberated drivers from the warren of city traffic below, but it also displaced residents and cast many central waterways into permanent shadow. Now that they are interwoven into the metropolitan scheme, altering these structures will be as daunting a task as their original creation.