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Travel to the Olympics: Tokyo 2020

ViaHero
Updated March 30, 2020

Going to the Olympics? Fantastic! Tokyo offers so much to explore. To make it easy, we asked locals in Japan about how to best enjoy their country while you’re in town. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the Tokyo Olympics, full of important info, local suggestions, and all the other must-dos in Japan

The Olympics may be a worldwide celebration, but don’t miss out on local recommendations. When you work with someone who actually lives in Japan to build your trip, you’ll see a side of their country that most tourists miss. Learn more

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

Tokyo 2020 Olympics basics

When do the Olympics start? 

On March 24, 2020, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021. While they'll still be called Tokyo 2020, the games will take place from July 23, 2021 to August 8th, 2021

Where will the Olympics take place? 

Tokyo! Japan’s dynamic capital city first hosted the games in 1964. In 2020, Tokyo will use many of the same venues (except for Tokyo National Stadium, which will be completely revamped). Overall, the Games will take place in more than 40 venues throughout the city

NOTE: Not all the competitions will be in Tokyo! If you’re a soccer or baseball fan, don’t book that Tokyo hotel quite yet—the Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido will host soccer and the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium will host baseball. 

Where to stay in Tokyo for the Olympics?

There are hundreds of Tokyo neighborhoods. If you’re looking for personalized advice on where to stay, you can always ask a local—our trip planners can tailor their recommendations to your travel style. But these four Tokyo neighborhoods are a good start:

For classic Tokyo vibes: Ueno

You’ve definitely seen the beautiful pink cherry trees of Ueno Park that make this neighborhood famous. Here, you’ll also find top Tokyo attractions like the Tokyo National Museum. And locals say that visiting the historic (and well-preserved) Yanaka neighborhood nearby is a must-do for history buffs. 

To be the life of the party: Shinjuku

A whirlwind of neon lights, crowds of people, and streets packed with restaurants and bars, Shinjuku perfectly embodies the famous bustle of Tokyo. Locals recommend visiting the Golden Gai neighborhood while in Shinjuku. Combining Shinjuku’s energy with a classic edge, Golden Gai consists of narrow streets packed—packed—with tiny bars. Visiting Golden Gai is a great thing to do in Tokyo at night no matter where you’re staying. 

If you’re looking for luxe: Ginza

Ginza offers top-notch shopping and easy access to Tokyo sights. Locals tell us that hotel prices in Ginza are not for the faint-hearted—if you’re hoping to build your itinerary on a budget, having a local plan your trip can help avoid sticker shock. 

But if you do have yen to burn, then Ginza is a great home base. You’ll be able to easily explore iconic spots like the Tsukiji Fish Market and the Imperial Palace. 

For budget travelers: Asakusa

If you spent your travel budget snagging a ticket to the Opening Ceremony, don’t worry—you can find excellent budget accommodations in neighborhoods like Asakusa. Locals tell us you won’t sacrifice anything by staying here. From Asakusa, it’s easy to get to exciting Tokyo sights like the Senso-ji Temple, the Tokyo Skytree, and more. 

Local Tip:

The Ginza neighborhood will contain the Olympic Village. So if you want to rub elbows with athletes...

Locals Recommend: What to do in Tokyo 

Eat!

This one’s a no-brainer. Tokyo is full of sizzling Japanese barbeque, expertly rolled sushi, and spicy bowls of ramen. Locals tell us that if you’re looking for inexpensive, delicious, and traditional eats you should indulge in kaiten-zushi—sushi served on conveyor belts. When you have a local plan your trip, they’ll recommend their favorite spots. 

Take in a view

Tokyo is a sweeping urban jungle. And there’s something thrilling and special about seeing it all from above. Locals say the city offers two great vantage points: Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree. Tickets are between $10 and $20 USD.

Enjoy the nightlife

Just because you’re at the Olympics doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to the same strict rules that the athletes do! Tokyo’s nightlife is nonstop. Whether you want to enjoy Japanese whiskey in Golden Gai or sign up for one of Tokyo’s Ghost Tours, you’ll find there’s plenty to do once the sun goes down. Plenty. To help narrow it down, get some local insight about which Tokyo activities best match your travel style. 

Find peace of mind

Tokyo is known for its bustle. Expect that to increase tenfold as athletes, fans, and basically the *world* descends for the Olympics. Locals tell us you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find some peace amid the charming chaos of Tokyo. Whether you want to relax in an onsen (Japanese hot spring) or spend an idyllic afternoon in one of Tokyo’s parks, get insider recs to avoid the crowds. Our local trip planners can suggest their favorite places to get away

Take advantage of the metro

No matter where you stay in Tokyo, you’ll want to explore other parts of the city. Locals tell us that the metro is clean, safe, and easy to use. They also note that the metro may be especially hectic during the Olympics. (Even though many Tokyo locals will work remotely during this time.) 

To travel like a pro, be sure to get some local instructions on how best to use the trains. Our trip planners will include detailed transit instructions that’ll help you navigate like the locals do. 

Local Tip:

Go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. On a clear day, you’ll have a beautiful (and free) view of Mount Fuji. 

What else should I know? 

Definitely this important tidbit: the Olympics have a mascot called Miratowa. The name combines the Japanese words mirai (meaing future) and towa (meaning eternity). Miratowa is pretty cute!

As for where to get the city’s most delicious ramen, how to navigate the incredible karaoke scene, or what rules you should know about onsens? Ask the people who know best. Having a local plan your trip gives you a key to a side of Tokyo that most visitors miss.

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