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Tokyo Olympics 2020: How to make the most of your visit to Japan

Good Housekeeping UK logo Good Housekeeping UK 09/10/2019 Roshina Jowaheer
a view of a city with a mountain in the background © yongyuan - Getty Images

There's less than a year to go before the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics take over Japan in summer 2020 and if you're planning on making your way over to the Asian hotspot for the historic sporting event, now is the time to get prepped and ready to ensure you make the most of your trip.

The Tokyo Olympics 2020 will begin on 24 July and end on 9 August, before the Paralympics start on 25 August and end on 6 September as the second time that Japan hosts the games.

a view of a city: The New National Stadium, the main stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics © Carl Court - Getty Images The New National Stadium, the main stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Most of the fixtures will take place across two thematic and operational zones, creating an ‘infinity’ symbol to represent the endless passion, commitment and inspiration of the world’s elite athletes. The Heritage Zone is home to several iconic venues used for the 1964 Olympics, while the Tokyo Bay Zone symbolises the exciting future of the city.

If you're visiting Japan next summer and want to know where to go and how to make the most of your sporting holiday, our guide tells you everything you need to know about the places to visit during the Games...

Getting around Japan during the Tokyo Olympics

With numerous sites and experiences to entertain you between fixtures, we thought we'd help you choose the best things to experience in Tokyo and around Japan during your trip for the Tokyo Olympics.

a flower in a field with Mount Fuji in the background: The Shinkansen © Pakkawit Anantaya / 500px - Getty Images The Shinkansen

As getting around Japan is easy (and fun), you can travel to a whole host of places efficiently via train and the Japan Rail Pass provides you with unlimited travel on all JR trains. This means you have access to the famous Shinkansen bullet trains too!

Go beyond Tokyo during the 2020 Olympics

Japan is one of the best cycling destinations in the world and Shizuoka prefecture will be hosting the majority of the 2020 Olympic Games cycling events - make this your excuse to cycle around the region for spectacular views of Mt. Fuji. You'll find the steep coastal roads of Izu Peninsula or easy riding through green tea plantations, plains, farms and rice fields. 

an island in the middle of a body of water: Izu Pensinsula © Ippei Naoi - Getty Images Izu Pensinsula

Other cities worth visiting beyond Tokyo include rural Chiba and the Boso Peninsula, which is well-known for its flowers. Nagano is home to Japan’s most popular temples: Zenkoji Temple and Togakushi Shrine. Niigata is another coastal city offering beautiful coastlines, hot springs, skiing in winter and stunning mountain ranges.

Head to West Japan and the Seto Inland Sea

From the 18 to 19 May 2020, the Torch Relay will pass through Hiroshima, starting in the city of Miyoshi. Miyoshi is the hometown to Yoshinori Sakai, who was the final torchbearer at the Tokyo 1964 Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. For going off the beaten path, explore the Iya Valley, located in the Tokoshima prefecture.

a view of a lush green hillside: Iya Valley © SAND555 - Getty Images Iya Valley

It's beautiful and remote, with the valley offering unforgettable views of jagged mountains and dramatic landscapes. Osaka, also known as 'Japan’s Kitchen', and Kyoto, the ‘cultural heart of Japan’ are both also easily accessible from Tokyo along the main JR network.

Visit the coast of the Tohoku Region

The Tohoku Region is heavily involved in the 2020 Olympic Games, with the torch travelling through Iwate prefecture from 17 to 19 June. It was hit by an earthquake in 2011 but is well on the way to recovery. You'll want to check out the Michinoku Coastal Trail, which offers a rocky shoreline, numerous bays, cliffs and coves stretching over 300 kilometres.

a close up of a hillside next to a body of water: Matsushima Bay © MasaoTaira - Getty Images Matsushima Bay

Meanwhile, Miyagi prefecture will be holding several men’s football matches during the games including the Men’s Quarterfinal. Baseball and softball have been added as additional events to the games this year with most games taking place in the Fukushima Azuma baseball stadium in the Fukushima prefecture.

Check out the events of Kyushu

Famous for its year-round matsuri events, Kyushu is an island blessed with a sub-tropical climate and home to seaside towns, volcanoes, hot springs and history.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Tokyo Olympics © Satoshi-K - Getty Images Tokyo Olympics

The southern island is made up of nine prefectures and links through to Yamaguchi via JR train routes, making access to the main island of Honshu easy. During your time here, you can explore Kumamoto Castle, originally constructed in 1467 AD and one of Japan’s best castles, or relax in one of the famous Ibusuki heated sand baths.

Take in the scenic beauty of Hokkaido

Northern island Hokkaido is less densely populated than the main island of Honshu and boasts wilder scenery, among the most dramatic you'll see in the country.

a lake surrounded by green grass and trees: Tokyo Olympics - how to see Japan © Ooriya Ron - Getty Images Tokyo Olympics - how to see Japan

The Kitamii Mountains, Lake Akan and the Tokachigawa hot springs are other highlights. And don't forget to visit a sake brewery in Otokoyama, before exploring the cosmopolitan city of Sapporo.

Find out more about visiting Japan during the Tokyo Olympics at japan.travel and check out Good Housekeeping's cherry blossom tour of Japan in spring 2020 before the Games take place or returning after the Olympics for a Japan and South Korea cruise in 2021.

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Gallery: 25 of the most beautiful shrines and temples of Japan (Photos)

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