Location: Prince Chichibu Memorial Sports Museum

It was nearly 40 years ago when Tokyo hosted the first Olympics held in Asia. Most of the 1964 competitions were at Tokyo's new, giant, state-of-the-art stadium.
 It's big enough for soccer matches to be held inside the track. Many of the most important soccer games held in Japan are played on this field. I happened to be watching TV a week or two ago and saw an international match televised from this stadium (most likely the Fuji Xerox Cup).
 The stadium is named National Stadium or National Olympic Stadium.
 Tucked away beneath the stands sits this statue, outside the entrance to our destination: the Prince Chichibu (or Prince Chichiba) Memorial Sports Museum (in Japanese).
 I kept the number of pictures to a minimum as I wasn't sure if photography was allowed. However, I am presenting the pictures as the report of my visit, and hopefully encourage some more people to visit.

The museum is much larger than expected. You enter through the first floor and pay your fee (300 yen for adults). The guide may ask you then if you'd like to "tour" the stadium, and if you say yes she'll give you a badge with instructions in Japanese. Don't worry, there's a small map to help guide you to the proper area. You might be able to walk around the whole stadium, but I went to the area shown on the map to take the pictures seen above. It was very cold and rainy when I went (even snowing and sleeting at times) so walking around a giant stadium didn't really interest me on that dreary day!

After returning to the museum, you head upstairs, where the real exhibits begin.
 The first room is very spacious, especially when you compare it to the first floor entry space. There are artifacts from several Olympic competitions, highlighted by several Olympic torches used since the early 1900s and artifacts from the 1964 games, such as the podium you see above. I think you can stand on it, but I didn't - maybe a great photo op! (I should have asked!)
 Continuing to the next room, there are several more artifacts from other, generally older sporting competitions. However, you can't miss the pacing car above. If I understand correctly, it was used to video the track as races were in progress, following its own little track. There is a short (about 90 second) video that plays on the tv seen at the top of the photo that even non-Japanese speakers can enjoy.
 I found a few displays of old baseball equipment. Many sports are included, though.
The exhibits seem to go on forever! It's a very large museum, especially for something "tucked away" inside a working stadium. The plaques honor several Olympic events, and if I remember correctly, the Japanese athletes who competed. The cases to the left hold even more competition artifacts, including medals and pins. The back room is a sort of shrine or dedication to Prince Chichibu.
I should note that the exhibits are not focused entirely on Japanese athletes . This is Vera Caslavska's leotard from the '64 Olympics, where she won gold. Her story is more interesting when you read the details, though. The entire case where this artifact is found is full of foreign athletes from Olympics throughout the past 100+ years.

I was thoroughly impressed with the collection and display of materials at the museum. As I've said, it's a very large museum, especially for its type, and it has a broad selection to view. There is little English signage, which can make it difficult to understand the importance of many of the artifacts, but sports fans and Olympics fans especially will enjoy this side trip on a slow day. I went on a Saturday, and I was the only one there (although, again, it was very cold and rainy).

The website currently (March 1, 2012) lists its hours as 9:30-4:30, closed on Sunday. Admission is 300 yen, with discounts for children and disabled persons. The museum may be closed on days where an event is held - especially major events like the Fuji Xerox Cup. You can get there by a five-minute walk from Sendagaya Station (once you exit the station, look for directional signs to the stadium). The stadium is part of a large park, so you could spend several hours or a fullin the area having a picnic, walking around, visiting the shrines, and catching a Swallows baseball game in the evening.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment