Facts at a glance
National Gymnasium 国立代々木競技場 National Gymnasium Annex Capacity: 13291 Capacity: 3202 1964 Events: Swimming, Diving 1964 Events: Basketball 2020 Events: Handball 2020 Events: None Construction: 1961 - 1964 Construction: 1961 - 1964 Location: Shibuya, Tokyo Location: Shibuya, Tokyo
Cultural impactThe National Gymnasium was built on the grounds of Washington Heights, a former American military dependent housing base. Some of the homes were retained for the nearby Olympic village, whlie the infrastructure such as the theater and school, were demolished. The National Gymnasium remains in use. Due to its proximity to the main broadcasting headquarters of the NHK 日本放送協会 Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, otherwise known as the Japan Broadcasting Company) the National Gymnaium is often featured at the end of live telecasts. The Gymnasium lies next to Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park, which have added to its prominence. As a recognizable landmark the Gymnasium has been featured in Japanese media. In 2016 it was the site of a battle sequence in the anime film Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale.
Urban ChangePrior to the end of World War II, the National Gymnasium was an Japanese army parade ground. After the war the land was turned over for use by the United States military. The Washington Heights complex added to the mixing of music and culture in the Harajuku area as shops opened to cater to the American service personnel. Looking north towards the National Gymnasium and Annex. The wooded area to the west is the grounds of Meiji Shrine. Towards the top of the photo is modern day Harajuku. The Washington Heights/Olympic Village housing to the west and south have been removed. Yoyogi Park occupies the area to the west. Commercial buildings and housing are now to the south.
Traces of the Olympics remain on the pedestrian walkway next to Yoyogi Park leading to the National Gymnasium. Reliefs depict olympic events, while a globe and bronze plaque with TOKYO 1964 mark the ends of the bridge.