Tokyo 2020 Olympics with the Japan Rail Pass

Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo

Some would consider it the trip of a lifetime: attending the 2020 Olympic Games in the bustling city of Tokyo, Japan. Tourists are already scrambling find tickets. The games, often simply called Tokyo 2020, are scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9 of that year. Over twelve thousand athletes from two hundred and seven countries are expected to participate in thirty-three types of summer sports.

During the 1964 Olympics, also held in Tokyo, Japan first introduced its Shinkansen bullet train. Nearly sixty years later, how does Japan plan to greet the upcoming Olympic games?

When athletics meets advanced technology

The 2020 Summer Olympics are certain to come in with a bang. During the opening ceremony, Sky Canvas, with help from the research company ALE, will light up the night sky when they “launch the ingredients for a shooting star into the atmosphere” using a small satellite device. Move over, traditional fireworks – Tokyo plans to create its own controlled meteor shower to welcome and delight Olympic guests.

Japan has long been known for its groundbreaking research and development in a variety of technologies, and these will be prominently on display during the 2020 Olympics. Within the Olympic Village, humanoid robots will be available to give you directions to nearby accommodations and attractions. Technology is also under development that will allow holographic updates of happenings within the stadium.

When you head to your hotel, you can use one keycard for the train, your hotel room, and your driverless taxi…yes, a driverless taxi. Field tests are already taking place in Tokyo for a new generation of “robot taxis.”

New Maglev trains

Regarding transportation, Tokyo will again introduce the world to its fastest train yet. While not planned to enter commercial operation until 2027, the Maglev will make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics. This train has broken all land speed records and is capable of reaching speeds more than 374 miles per hour.

These future trains operate on the principle of magnetic levitation, enabling the train to hover above the tracks. It is this lack of friction that allows the train to reach tremendous speeds, while still adhering to stringent Japanese safety standards.

Maglev bullet train prototype
Maglev bullet train prototype

New Shinkansen N700s Supreme trains

Also, the new Shinkansen N700S series, also called Shinkansen Supreme, will make its debut in 2020 just in time for the Olympics.

This smarter and quieter train has been redesigned and will run on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, between Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station. Thanks to being 11 tons lighter than the previous generation, it will consume less energy.

Shinkansen N700 Series
Shinkansen N700 “Supreme” Series

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium and venues

The Japanese government has set aside 400 billion yen in order to host the games. A large portion of that fund is going towards the reconstruction of the National Olympic Stadium. In 2015, the former stadium was demolished and construction began.

While the stadium has been redesigned several times due to budget constraints and encroachment upon nearby landmarks, the stadium, when completed, will host up to eighty thousand fans. In addition to the Olympic Stadium, thirty-two other venues will be used, most within walking distance of the Olympic Village.

New Japanese National Stadium
The new National Stadium is set to be the main venue for the 2020 Summer Olympics

Using your Japan Rail Pass, you will be able to travel quickly and easily to all Olympic locations. In Tokyo’s central business district, seven venues will be used, including the New National Stadium and several locations that served the 1964 Olympics. The closest station to the National Stadium is the Sendagaya Station on the Chuo-Sobu Line.

Twenty venues will be in use around Tokyo Bay. Ten venues more than 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the Olympic Village will also be utilized. One of these is Yokohama Stadium, located nearly 40 kilometers from Tokyo. Another is more than twenty-five miles away in Saitama. Do not fear, however, as your Japan Rail Pass and Tokyo’s vast transportation system will help you reach these locations as well. Simply take the JR Tokaido Line from Tokyo Station to Yokohama Station, or the JR Saikyo to Omiya Station in Saitama.

New station on the Yamanote line

In honor of the event, the Yamanote Line is even inaugurating a new station. Yet to be named, this station will be located between Shinagawa and Tamachi Stations, and will provide access to the Haneda Airport Monorail and the JR Keihin-Tohoku line. Designed in the eki naka style, the station will be four stories in height, and the public area will host a large screen for viewing the games.

New Yamanote line station design
Architect Kengo Kuma has designed the new station on Tokyo’s JR Yamanote Line

Besides, the Tokyo metro system and JR East have been named official partners in the Tokyo 2020 Sponsorship Programme. Their goal is “to contribute to the growing enthusiasm (…) by providing safe and comfortable transportation services” said JR East President and CEO Tetsuro Tomita.

Begin making your travel plans now so you won’t miss out on this once in a lifetime event, and let your JR Pass make travel fast and easy.

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