Former sprinter Usain Bolt, who was the first to try out the brand new track in Tokyo's new Olympic stadium, which will be the venue for the 2020 Summer Olympics (July 24 - August 9), on December 21, 2019. Here then is a preview of the new monument in the Japanese capital, which tourists will be eager to visit once the Olympics have been and gone.
An inviting stroll on the fifth floor
The replacement for the 1964 Olympic Stadium, built to host the very first Summer Olympic Games on the Asian continent, the Japan National Stadium is set to become more than a souvenir of the 2020 Olympics. After the Paralympic Games (August 25 - September 6, 2020), residents and travelers will not need a ticket for a match or concert to visit the stadium's fifth floor where a promenade has been laid out around the entire circumference of the building. Benches have been positioned to allow you to contemplate the various landmarks on the Tokyo skyline.
Here, in the heart of the bustling Shinjuku district and 30 meters up from the streets below, you can see the Imperial Palace garden and also the gymnasium that will host the table tennis competitions as well as the twin towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tokyo City Hall). Without a doubt, many tourist guides will recommend taking this stroll at nightfall. The promenade, which has been christened "Grove of the sky," will be adorned with lamps reminiscent of Japanese paper lanterns to create an intimate atmosphere.
A celebration of Japanese nature
Cherry trees, maples, camellias... Making it look like a garden, the promenade has been lined with shrubs and trees, which are just some of the 47,000 trees that were planted in the area of the stadium. They are a reminder of the central role of nature in Japanese culture, which is a key theme in the design of the new building by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The roof frame has been made of cedar sourced from the country's 47 prefectures, and the timber structure references the 1,300-year-old Gojunoto pagoda at Horyuji Temple in Ikaruga, which is the oldest wooden building in the world.
The theme of nature is also at work in the colors chosen for the stadium's 60,000 seats, which are in five shades that extend from brown to green, recalling seasonal variations in the colors of woodland. The effect is surprisingly attractive when seen from above or from ground level, and it is further enhanced by the three different gradients of the stands, which are designed to let the wind pass through to keep spectators cool. It is worth noting that the next Olympic Games will take place in the middle of the summer in Tokyo, a city that has been suffocatingly hot in recent years with temperatures rising to 40°C in the shade. Some 185 large fans and eight mist sprayers will also be on hand to ensure that spectators can watch the opening ceremony in comfort.
Easy to see from the street, Tokyo's new stadium will be a tourist attraction from day one. Those lucky enough to attend the official opening on December 21 will be greeted by the sight of two mosaics depicting the Greek goddess Nike and Nomino Sukune, a legendary sumo wrestler. These have been salvaged from the old 1964 arena, where they stood atop the main grandstand. They are also there as a reminder of the only Summer Olympics ever to be held in the Land of the Rising Sun (Japan hosted the Winter Olympics in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998) -- that is until next year and the months of July and August.