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Monday, October 10, 2005

Tokyo Olympics Remembered

October 11th Taiiku no hi - Health and Sports Day
体育の日
Instituted in 1966, this day marks the anniversary of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Not surprisingly, many sports events are held on this day.

The Tokyo Olympics (October 10-24, 1964) marked Japan's strong economic recovery after the Second World War and showcased the country's growing technological prowess with such projects as the new Olympic stadiums and the shinkansen (bullet train) system which opened in 1964 with the Tokaido Line connecting Tokyo and Osaka. The 210 km per hour speed of the new trains was a world record at the time.

The 1964 Olympics were the first to be held in Asia. Japan had been awarded the 1940 Olympics but these were transfered to Helsinki due to Japan's military involvement in China, but in any event, the Games did not take place owing to the outbreak of the Second World War.

In the medal table Japan finished third behind the USA and USSR with 29 medals in total including 16 golds. Judo and volleyball were added as Olympic sports. The victory of the Japanese women's volleyball in the final remains even today as the most watched televised sporting event in Japan. The game, shown on NHK, commanded a record 85% audience share.

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