I am pleased to announce the launch of Tokyo 6420, a digital project on the Tokyo Olympic Games. Taking the name from the combination of the 1964 Games and the upcoming 2020 Games, Tokyo 6420 attempts to link together the story and cultural legacy of the Olympics in Tokyo with the urban transformation of the post-war Japanese capital. The Tokyo 1964 Games were one of the most successful Olympics of all time and it is this legacy that is driving the 2020 Games. As with 1964, 2020 is being seen as a redefinition of Tokyo and to a large extent, Japan itself. How the Olympics changed the face of Tokyo and how they are remembered and depicted in Japanese culture are the core questions this project is seeking to answer. Although this project has launched, it is an ongoing effort to chronicle the past and future of the Olympics in Tokyo and will be continually updated until the torch is extinguished at the close of the 32nd Olympiad in August 2020.
When this project first began, it was envisioned as examining the legacy of the Olympics through an examination of the major venues. That is still the focus of the project as it stands at launch. Through the lens of the venues, the change over time in the parts of Tokyo most associated with the Games can be examined, reaching back to connect with the little known cancelled 1940 Olympics. Tokyo 6420 looks at the past and the Olympics through different digital tools. 360 images and photographs that will accompany each entry to provide a sense of the way the Games guided–and continue to guide–the way Tokyo developed, the way Tokyoites interact with their city, and the way Tokyo, and through extension Japan, views itself. The focal point of the landing page is an interactive map which pinpoints the location of each of the venues being studied. Maps are vital to this project, as the lines of old and new Tokyo can be seen emerging around the Olympic venues. Uncharacteristically, the Tokyo Olympic venues are for the most part still vital and operational parts of the city–take a look at any major Anglophone musician who has toured Japan and you are likely to find a live album recorded at the Nippon Budokan.
The second element that is at the core of Tokyo 6420 is the cultural impact of the Games. Perhaps the most well known example is the seminal anime film Akira, which featured a 2020 Olympics stadium in the final scenes. When Tokyo was awarded the Games many pointed to the seemingly prophetic coincidence. Tokyo has embraced the Akira association, despite the dystopian nature of the film, which indicates how the very idea of the Olympics and what the Games can accomplish are override other themes and fears. Through the study of the Tokyo Olympics in film, television and print, the way the Games were presented to the Japanese people and to the world are to be examined in this project to understand the deep seated cultural legacy of the Olympics and the tremendous impact the current Olympic buildup is having on the city.
The project is based heavily off research and photography conducted in Tokyo between 2016 and 2017. This launch is only the start of the Tokyo 6420 project. This site will seek to chronicle each of the venues for the Tokyo Games alongside major areas that are impacted by the Olympics. The companion Torch Run blog, linked on the site, will serve as a means to disseminate news on the Games as well as allow for my own personal commentary in a space separate from the main project. It is my hope in the years leading up to July 2020 and the start of the XXXII Olympiad, Tokyo 6420 will be a useful resource not just for those interested in studying sports history, Japanese history, and urban development but also for a curious general audience and future visitors to Tokyo. This project is also a means for me to work through questions I have on the use of the digital humanities in my own research and how it can be used to explore a subject.
As this is an ongoing project, additional features will be added over time. This summer, before and after comparison photos will be introduced to the site through Juxtapose, a frame comparison tool by Knightlab. A timeline is in the works for the sections on the three Olympics to help put the information provided into perspective. Additional 360 photos and video will be added, particularly of the new venues being built for 2020.