Tokyo 2020 Olympics For Dummies
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Thinking about heading to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? Planning a trip like this has a lot of moving pieces to it. You have to make sure you have all your paperwork in order, book flights and hotels, buy event tickets, figure out how to get to the different venues (ideally without getting lost), pack, get your phone to work, and hopefully not offend anybody along the way. Check out these tips and helpful hints to make your life a bit easier.

Top Things to Know Before Going to Japan

There are a few really important items you’ll need to make sure you have in order or are at least familiar with before you travel to Japan. It’ll make things go much smoother and significantly less stressful.

  • Medications: Check the S. Embassy & Consulates in Japan website to make sure you’re able to bring your medication with you. Some medications that are legal in the United States are banned in Japan.
  • Internet: Stay connected by purchasing a Japanese SIM card, portable Wi-Fi pack, or international phone plan.
  • Cash: Japan is a very cash=driven society. Most post offices and 7-Eleven convenience stores have international ATMs that you can use to withdraw cash.
  • Train passes: The train system will likely be your primary mode of transit during you trip. Train passes such as the Japan Rail Pass can potentially save you lots of money on train tickets (but do the math to make sure before buying one).
  • Tattoos: Tattoos were traditionally a bit of a taboo in Japan. It has gotten better in recent years, but keeping tattoos covered will just make your life easier.

Keeping Up with the Summer Olympic Events

A total of 33 different sports will be appearing at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Five of the sports are new:

  • Karate
  • Skateboarding
  • Sport climbing
  • Surfing
  • Baseball/Softball

The first four of these sports will be making their grand debut at this Olympics. The fifth “new” sport, baseball/softball, was actually previously in the Olympic Games, but has been absent from the previous two. It will also be making a return this Summer Olympics.

A total of 42 different venues will be used to hold the various events of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. These venues have been divided into three core areas:

  • The Heritage Zone: Many of the venues in this zone were used during the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
  • The Tokyo Bay Zone: Venues located around the Tokyo Bay area.
  • The Outlying Venues: Venues located outside the Tokyo area.

Tickets for events are divided into “categories” labeled A through E. Category A tickets are typically the best seats for the event, but are also the most expensive, while Category E tickets are the least expensive. Note that not all venues offer all five categories for seating. Some of the midsize venues only offer A, B, and C, while some of the small venues only have Category A. Event ticket prices range anywhere from about $30 to about $1,300, depending on the sport and the seat category.

Tips for Planning Your Trip to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Planning an international trip is hard enough. Planning an international trip to see one of the largest sporting events in the world just adds a whole other layer of complexity. Taking things one step at a time can make things much easier.

  1. Buy event tickets first.
    Tickets for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been in high demand and tickets are hard to come by. Before you start planning anything else, make sure you can secure tickets to some of the events.
  2. Find a place to stay.
    Prices for accommodations during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been anywhere from two to ten times their normal nightly rates. Many Olympics goers are considering a room listed at two to three times its normal rate a “good deal” (especially if it’s offering free cancellation or refundable options).
  3. Book flights.
    Flight availability hasn’t been as difficult as event tickets and accommodations, but prices are still higher than normal. Flight price-watching apps like Skyscanner and Hopper can let you know of good deals.
  4. Put together an itinerary.
    Now that you have all the big stuff finalized, you can start feeling in the details with where you need to be, when you need to be there, and how you’re going to get there.

Best Things to Do and Places to Go While in Japan

Of course, the main reason you’re going to Japan is probably to watch the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore the rest of the country while you’re there!

Here are the top districts within Tokyo:

  • Harajuku: The heart of trendy youth culture and fashion
  • Ikebukuro: The up-and-coming area
  • Shinjuku: The entertainment district
  • Shibuya: Home of shopping and fashion
  • Chuo: The center of Tokyo
  • Asakusa: Historical Tokyo
  • Bunkyo: The local neighborhood
  • Akihabara: The tech and electronics district
  • Ueno: The leisure area

Great day trips from Tokyo:

  • Nikko: A city enshrined in history
  • Hakone: The mountain hot springs town
  • Kamakura: The seaside capital of old Japan
  • Yokohama: Home to Chinatown
  • Mount Fuji: One of Japan’s three sacred mountains
  • Sendai: Home to one of Japan’s most powerful lords
  • Nagoya: The manufacturing giant

Other great destinations in Japan:

  • Kyoto: Stepping back in time to old Japan
  • Osaka: The place for modern architecture and nightlife
  • Hiroshima: A city reborn
  • Nara: Japan’s first permanent capital
  • Himeji: Home to the White Heron Castle
  • Okayama: Home to one of Japan’s best gardens

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Celeste Kiyoko Hall is dedicated to helping others learn about Japan and its culture. She served as a board member for the Midwestern Japan Student Association and as president of the Japanese Cultural Exchange Circle and continues helping others plan their trips to Japan through her travel website, Footsteps of a Dreamer.

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