Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay Will Traverse All Prefectures | CoolJapan

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games just around the corner, excitement is bubbling up especially in Japan. This much-anticipated international sporting event will officially kick off on the 24th of July 2020. It will be the fourth time that Japan is hosting the Olympic Games (Tokyo in 1964, Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998).

The Japanese government has high hopes for this major event. Not only to showcase the innovative initiatives adopted using robotics, but also to demonstrate solidarity among the regions in the country still recovering from the 2011 natural disaster catastrophe. This is the reason why this coming Summer Olympics is also dubbed the "Recovery Olympics".

Aside from the games and pocket events planned, the most major happening will be the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay. For the first time, this torch relay will journey across all 47 prefectures in Japan over a span of 121 days to showcase the cultural uniqueness of each region. 

The significance of the flame

The Olympic flame is the ultimate symbol of uniting people and conveying the true spirit of sportsmanship. Inspired by the ancient Greek games where a sacred fire was kept burning throughout, the flame made its first re-emergence during the Amsterdam 1928 Summer Games and it has been an integral tradition ever since.

For the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the torch relay carries a lot of significance more than the traditional idea of sportsmanship — it will also be about hope, resilience and rebirth.  In line with its recovery theme, the Olympic torch relay will start its journey in the calamity-stricken zone of Fukushima.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Torch Relay

The Fukushima prefecture suffered from a nuclear disaster nine years ago

Hope lighting the way

Having an apt slogan of "Hope Lights Our Way", the Olympic flame will first be displayed in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefecture after arriving from Greece. These are areas that had seen the most devastation by the Great East Japan Earthquake. It will then make its way to J-Village in Fukushima, a huge abandoned sports complex that was once the designated operational base for the nuclear crisis recovery efforts.

Through attracting international tourists and rebuilding some of the infrastructures in the disaster-hit regions, the organisers hope to inject hope to the people affected and also show to the world how Japan is striving to rebuild and recover.

For this meaningful event, the torch has been painstakingly designed with inspiration sought from the cherry blossom, a flower that is deeply symbolic to many Japanese people for its transient fragility. Incidentally, the games also happen to coincide with the spectacular cherry blossom season. 

Resplendently gold in colour, individual flames emerge from the five petals of the cherry blossom-inspired structure. These separate tubes then combine as one at the centre of the torch to give off a more brilliant light also known as the "Path of Hope". It is quite a work of art!

Follow the journey of the Olympic torch

Seeing the torch relay in person is going to be an unforgettable and inspiring experience. If you wish to see it happening up close and be a part of the extraordinary 121-day journey, you would need to know the itinerary of the Olympic Torch Relay as it travels across Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Here is a summary of the route and its schedule:

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Torch Relay

Expect a lot of fanfare as the entourage of Olympic torchbearers and escort vehicles make their way proudly through the streets of Japan. If you intend to be a part of the celebrations, do remember to get there early so that you can be at the front of the action.

For more information, check out the official page of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Editor's Note: Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, it's important to practice precautionary measure when attending public gatherings. Practice proper coughing etiquette, wash hands frequently with soap and water and disinfect with alcohol, and avoid contact with individuals exhibiting flu symptoms. Click here for more information from the World Health Organization.