Tokyo Olympics 2021: Everything You Need to Know

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The Tokyo Olympics 2021 is ramping up and sports fans from all around the world will be heading to Japan for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. With all the people attending and involved in putting on such a large scale event, it might not be the best time to visit if you’re interested in really diving into Japanese culture. Expect hotels to be filled to the brim and prices to go up a bit. But, if you’re a sports enthusiast heading there for the big show, here’s our handy guide for making the most out of Japan while you’re at it!

2021 Olympics at a glance

The Tokyo Metropolitan building helps to plan for Tokyo Olympics 2020.

The Tokyo Olympics 2020 headquarters building in Tokyo has a tourist information center on the second story. Photo by: Ftaaffe [CC BY-SA 4.0]

 

Where: The games will be held in 42 Olympic venues in and around the city of Tokyo.
When: The summer games 2021 officially kicks off on July 23, 2021 and wraps up on August 8, 2021.
Number of games held: 33 different sports will compete throughout the Olympic period. You can check out the schedule here.
Ticket prices: Average ticket will range in price for events from about USD 60 to USD 1160 and from about USD 220 to USD 2680 for the opening ceremony itself.

 

Sure, you’re in Tokyo to see the Olympic Games, but there’s a whole host of uniquely Japanese sights to see while you’re in town. Even if you’re attending all of the events you’re going to have a bit of downtime in between viewings, and some of the games happen later in the evening. If you’ve only got tickets for a few events, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy Tokyo!

1. Enjoy the view from Tokyo Sky Tree 

Tokyo skytree is the tallest observation building and a must visit during Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Climb to the top of the Tokyo Sky Tree and marvel at the view of the city from atop

The Tokyo Sky Tree is one of the attractions you simply can’t miss! This TV tower cum shopping mall features a planetarium, aquarium, even a postal museum, but the highlights are definitely the observation deck and Musashi Sky Restaurant, which give you gorgeous 360-degree views of Tokyo and its surroundings.

2. Shop in Ginza District

Ginza, a highly recommended place to be during the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is a popular shopping destination in Tokyo filled with stores.
Shop till you drop in the numerous stores and upscale boutiques that Ginza has to offer

Ginza District is the perfect place to do some shopping while you’re in Tokyo. This upscale area has shops for nearly every big brand of clothing or cosmetics and when you’re tired of shopping, you can stroll through the beautiful Hama Rikyu park or take a load off with a visit to the Kabuki-za theatre to experience one of Japan’s most iconic cultural experiences.

3. Explore Golden Gai

Golden Gai in Sinjuku is famous for its architecture and nightlife.
Go bar hopping in the narrow neon-lit tiny bars in the alleys of Golden Gai

This picturesque district is packed with tiny (and I mean tiny) bars that are bursting with personality, even if they only fit a dozen denizens. It’s known as a gathering place for artists, writers, and musicians. Take a night to wander through the lanes and squeeze into a couple of these unique establishments for a drink and an experience.

4. Visit the iconic Senso-ji temple

When in Japan for Tokyo Olympics 2020, do visit Senso-ji, an ancient temple in Asakusa,Tokyo.
Senso-Ji temple in Tokyo is a colorful and popular shrine in Japan

The Senso-Ji temple is one of Japan’s most famous Buddhist temples. Enter through the historic Thunder Gate, the symbol of Tokyo itself, and find yourself in a bustling shopping street where you can pick up souvenirs on your way to the temple’s main hall. Although much of the temple has been reconstructed in the last century, this is Tokyo’s oldest temple, dating back to the year 628!

5. Eat fresh sushi at the Tsukiji Outer Market

Visit Tsukiji Outer Market, the most popular fish market in Tokyo during Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Visit Tsukiji Market, the most popular fish market in Japan

You can’t visit Japan without enjoying some sushi, and the best place to do that is Tsukiji Fish Market. While the big wholesale heart of this famous attraction has moved (you can see it at the new Toyosu Market), the outer market remains and is a vibrant marketplace with all the fresh seafood you could dream of!

Getting around Tokyo during the Olympics

The city is going to get really crowded during the Tokyo Olympics 2021 and the last thing you want to do is drive. Finding parking is difficult in Tokyo at the best of times; during the Olympics it will be nearly impossible. The best way to get around is by train and metro. While navigating public transportation in a foreign country can be a little intimidating, there are plenty of English language signs and color-coded trains and walkways to make sure you’re able to get where you’re going.

Top tips for visiting Japan during the Olympics

  • Book your flights and accommodation as soon as possible. Hotels started booking full as early as 2018! You run the risk of being unable to book a flight either if you don’t plan ahead for this trip. 
  • Try to arrive at least a day before the event you have tickets for, as the airports will be packed, especially within the first couple of days of the opening and closing ceremonies.
  • Pick up a SIM card on your trip to make it easier to navigate your way around and make sure you don’t miss your events. You can order a data-only SIM card to be picked up at the airport or buy one over the counter. Just make sure your phone is unlocked so it will accept an international card.
  • If you’re not planning on getting a SIM card, you can rent a pocket router that will keep you connected wherever you go.
  • Brush up on Japanese cultural norms before you go. For example, stay on the left side when you’re walking and avoid tipping at restaurants and bars.
  • Attending multiple events? The Japan Olympics 2021 is occurring in two separate main zones and in order to travel between them easily on public transportation, pick up a prepaid IC card so that all you have to do when you’re getting on the train is tap it.
  • The Olympics are a big deal, but there are lots of things to do in Tokyo beyond sports. Get out and experience the more traditional parts of Japanese culture too!

Traveling to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics 2021 is an experience you’ll never forget. Mix the bustle of one of the world’s most populous metropolises with the world’s biggest sporting event and you’re in for an exhilarating journey. Cheer in the stands as your nation competes for the gold during the day and eat street food in a picturesque alley in the evening. To make the most of the experience consider trying a Tokyo Olympics tour or join one of the many Japan tours to get outside of Tokyo but if you’re not sure how to plan your trip, you can connect with our travel expert in Japan!

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  • Jeff Aasgaard
    Jeff Aasgaard
    Travel Expert in Japan
  • Alan Williams
    Alan Williams
    Travel Expert in Japan
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