Komazawa Olympic Park – Get active alongside history

By Ben Davis

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With preparations now well underway for the upcoming 2020 Olympics, it’s nice to take a closer look at some of the venues that featured in the defining 1964 Summer Olympics. The Kenzo Tange-designed National Gymnasium remains a defining part of the Yoyogi landscape, while the octagonal Nippon Budokan in Kitanomaru Park continues to host martial arts competitions and music concerts. Situated a short train ride from Shibuya in the western neighbourhood of Komazawa, Komazawa Olympic Park retains some classic sporting architecture and continues to be a destination for both organised sport and casual exercise.

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Komazawa Olympic Park was used as the second site for the 1964 Summer Olympic Games, with its indoor and outdoor stadiums playing host to sports including hockey, soccer, wrestling and volleyball. While several venues are currently under renovation or construction, the large plaza at the centre of the 41 hectare park remains, along with three distinctive features: Masachika Murata’s outdoor stadium, the Yoshinobu Ashihara-designed gymnasium and the unmistakable watch tower. Resembling a tall, multi-layered stack of concrete blocks, the tower is visible from almost ever pocket and corner of the park.

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Strolling around the park, whether it be in the crisp winter sunshine or on a balmy summer’s night, is the perfect way to enjoy the various natural and built features, not to mention a spot of people-watching. You’ll find no shortage of morning exercisers and dog-walkers, while budding sports stars complete on the numerous fields and courts. Children play in the animal-themed playgrounds or the summertime splash pool, while the two kilometre jogging course follows a beautiful tree-lined route.

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While Komazawa is a slightly quieter alternative to some of the inner city’s parks and gardens, weekend events ranging from flea markets to pop-up food festivals and professional sports games bring a vibrant atmosphere to the sport-friendly destination. And for those who are keen to learn more about the 1964 Games, the free Memorial Gallery showcases some historical items and footage from Tokyo’s first Olympics.

-Komazawa Olympic Park
-Where: 1-1 Komazawakoen, Setagaya
-Website: http://www.rbf.jp/komazawa.html




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About Columnist

Ben Davis
Editor of Thousands Tokyo

Ben is an editor, consultant and photographer who has been based in Tokyo since 2010. Following a stint with local farmers in the Japanese countryside, he now works as Editor of Thousands Tokyo, which sees him happily spend most days (and nights) exploring the world’s biggest city from the ground up.