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Legacy Of Tokyo Olympics: What Did Tokyo Look Like Before And After The 1964 Summer Olympics?

Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics Summer Games. The last time Tokyo hosted Summer Olympics in 1964, many of the new infrastructures and landmarks were built specifically to accommodate foreign visitors. Those legacies are still seen in different spots of Tokyo today.

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1. Tokyo Monorail (東京モノレール)

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Tokyo Monorail in 1964. The Monorail was constructed in September, 1964, just before the Olympics started. It provided easy and direct transportation between Haneda Airport and Hamamatsucho.

3. Metropolitan Expressway (首都高速)

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Metropolitan Expressways were made to accommodate the increasing car traffic in greater Tokyo metropolitan area. This photo showsMetropolitan Expressway No.1. The first Metropolitan Expressway made in 1962, linking downtown Tokyo to Haneda Airport.

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Metropolitan Expressway No.1 today. In the old photo, you can see Japan Railway’s Shiodome Switchyard on the left. Now this area is called Shiodome Sio-Site, one of the most modern-looking areas in Tokyo with 13 skyscrapers housing many corporate headquarters.

4. Hotel New Otani (ホテルニューオータニ)

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Hotel New Otani Tokyo — one of the three greatest hotels in Tokyo — opened in September, 1964. Above is a postcard showing the arial view of the brand new Hotel. Several new hotels were built at the time to meet the demand of Olympics visitors. You may recognize this hotel from 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice!

5. Expansion of Haneda Airport (羽田空港)

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Haneda Airport in 1963. Haneda Airport had to expand its international terminal considerably in order to accept a large number of foreign visitors during the Games.

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Haneda Airport in 1964 on the left, 1970 on the right. To accommodate for the Olympics, an additional runway (Runway C, 3150m×60m) was built. The above photos show the arial view of the airport before and after the Olympics.

6. Onden River/Harajuku Cat Street (隠田川/原宿キャットストリート)

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Onden River in 1962. Onden River is a name for an upper stream of Shibuya River that used to run from Shinjuku Gyoen area through out Shibuya district. By the time Tokyo was chosen for the 1964 Olympics, Onden River had been highly polluted due to rapid expansion of residential areas built around it. In order to hide the dirty water from foreign visitors, the city of Tokyo literally covered it up with pavement, making it an underground aqueduct.

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Today, where Onden River used to be is called Cat Street of Harajuku, where Tokyo’s fashionistas seek their latest street fashion. There are many rivers in Tokyo that got covered up during this time. The bustling pedestrian street of Shibuya (Shibuya Center Gai), is also built on top of what used to be called Udagawa River.

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Shinkansen in Yurakucho area today. Tokaido Shinkansen, inaugurated in October, 1964, was the world’s fastest train built at the time. It connected Tokyo and Shin-Osaka with transit time of 4 hours, making the two biggest cities of Japan significantly closer to each other.

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Amagasaki IC of Meishin Expressway in 2004. As many infrastructures were being organized for the 1964 Olympics, Meishin Expressway was constructed with its first IC (interchange) Amagasaki-Rittou. It was Japan’s first modern expressway and continues to be one of the most highly traveled expressways of Japan to date.

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Nippon Budokan in 2003. Nippon Budokan was built to host Judo competitions during the 1964 Olympics. After the Olympics were over, Budokan continued to be a popular, multi-purpose venue for live concerts and martial arts events. Beatles played at Budokan in 1966!

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Before the 1964 Olympics, this place used to be called Washington Heights, a special housing complex for U.S. Air Force during the Occupation of Japan. The land was returned to Japan when it was chosen as the host for the Olympics.

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After the Olympics Games, the Village was turned into Yoyogi Park. This is a photo taken in 2008. Yoyogi Park is one of the largest parks in Tokyo today, covered with green and a popular hanami spot during the cherry blossom season every year.

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