Today is Health Sports

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Today is Health Sports Day, a national holiday to commemorate the opening of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Those Olympic games put Japan back on the world stage after WWII and the government made a big splash to show off. A huge amount of city planning and construction took place beforehand: the city highway system, Shinkansen, and many stadia still stand as testament to the growth spurt. Part of the Olympic village in Omotesando is used as a series of shops and galleries, but there are constant threats to pull down those charming but dilapidated old buildings.

Japanese holidays are pretty mellow. The Emperor or Prime Minister will visit a stadium, make a speech or play a round of golf in public to mark the day. Everyone else just enjoys a long weekend. In fact, Health Sports Day used to fall on the actual anniversary of the opening ceremony, 10 October, but recent changes in the laws rescheduled it for the second Monday.

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