Komazawa Olympic Park

The Tokyo Olympics 1964 have been a recurring theme on this blog (here and here) because they fit in so nicely with the narrative of Japan’s economic miracle and reintegration into the world community. Another architectural manifestation from the Games is the Komazawa Olympic Park in Setagaya. The author of the book’s chapter on politics and avantgarde has chosen the complex as one of the insets. I took a stroll through the park to get a feel for the place.


First off, and despite its grandeur, it’s a tad more difficult to find good information on the architecture of the various buildings. From what I can gather Masachiki Murata built the stadium (soccer) and the memorial tower (although other sources credit Kenzo Tange), Yoshinobu Ashihara the gymnasium (wrestling).

The site in Setagaya (near Komazawa-Daigaku on the Den-en-toshi Line) had initially been selected as the main Olympic venue for the eventually cancelled 1940 Games. The altered design foresaw a somewhat smaller role for this location.

To get a better overview of the complex, this aerial view from the 1960s helps:




The iconic 50-meter-tall Memorial Tower, off-limits to those hoping to get an overview of the sports complex


The soccer stadium seats more than 20,000 people and is now a mixed-use facility. The stadium is getting a paint makeover (perhaps as part of the Tokyo 2020 bid).


The indoor volleyball arena where some of the games were held. Volleyball was a new discipline in 1964. The victory of the Japanese women’s team (aka the “oriental witches”) over the Soviet Union in the finals became one of the key sporting moments of the Games. The building is in a pretty bad state and ripe for a makeover.


Today Tokyo’s inhabitants have fully embraced the park and perform their outdoor sports here regularly, the large running circle is probably among the best places for this city’s joggers.

This Olympic Committee report has fantastic photos from the Olympics as well as myriad facts about every little detail of the sporting event.

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