Tokyo Olympics 2020: A Virtual Destination Guide

It is early August 2021 and the biggest event on our TV screens is the much awaited Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. 

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No – this is not a typo. The games are a year late and now taking place without an audience to cheer the world-wide teams on. However, the teams are giving it their best shot and their families and national supporters are there in spirit if not body. 

For most people around the world the Olympics is a televised event but the host country goes the extra mile to ensure that not only the athletes and the (now missing) visitors receive an exceptional welcome, but also ensure that the media coverage encourages viewers to pay a  visit at a later date. 

Japan is often portrayed as a mysterious destination, little understood by outsiders, but much has changed in the last fifty years as this amazing country has shot ahead in areas such as science, technology, education, health, finance, manufacturing and much more. The world has been in awe of the development of the motor industry and lightning fast trains, to mention just a few.  

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The main interest for most would-be visitors is, however, in the traditional culture and way of life. Old style values are still alive and well in many areas of daily life. Enter a store and you are welcomed by a gloved and bowing doorman. The assistants give you their undivided attention and compliment you on your choice. Your purchase is then delicately wrapped and ribboned and handed over with another bow.  

Dining is another area of great celebration. Greetings are elaborate, choices wide and food is beautifully prepared. The presentation is almost too elegant to disturb and soon you are mesmerized by the sheer beauty and taste sensation of the freshly prepared plates. This is not eating to live, but living to eat. 

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As the Olympics draw to a close you might find yourself drawn to visiting this amazing country which perches comfortably between ancient rites and modern technology. Here are the top five things to consider seeing when visiting Japan: 

  • Choose the time of your visit carefully – spring is a particularly beautiful time in Japan when the cherry trees are in bloom. Millions of them put on a spectacular show and the locals revel in this announcement of spring. 
  • Raid a 'hyaku yen’ (100 yen) store, a treasure trove of unusual, obscure, eccentric and practical items from Hello Kitty items to delicate porcelain tea-cups for the equivalent of just a few rand. But beware! You might splurge on a mountain of unusual goodies. 
  • Talking of mountains – why not take a whirlwind  trip on the Shinkansen or bullet train to Mount Fuji, one of the most iconic sights in Japan. Stay in a traditional local inn or ryokan where you will be introduced to ancient hospitality rites with delectable food. Choose an inn with access to hot springs where you will learn to relax and revitalize yourself in waters with healing powers in an outdoor pool. 
  • Japan has no less than 200,000 festivals a year so you are sure to stumble onto one with locals in traditional dress and of course plenty of food and music to keep you mesmerized.  
  • Do not miss a visit to a Shinto shrine where the good karma is sure to relax you. Write a message on a small wooden block or ema and place it on the fence for good luck. Japanese Zen gardens are also places of peace and solitude where carefully placed rocks, water features, moss, carefully pruned trees and raked gravel come together to create harmony. 
  • Dine in a traditional sushi restaurant with a conveyor belt to deliver dishes created to perfection – washed down with warm sake wine.  

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There is of course so much more to do when you holiday in Japan, and the team at Thompsons is awaiting your call to make up the perfect itinerary for your holiday to this enchanting Far East destination. For other sporting event holidays browse our sports events travel page.   

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