View a Few Meters Into The Venue. ©Shotaro Honda Moore

Tokyo 2020 Venues: Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (Table Tennis & Para-Table Tennis)

Front View Of The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. ©Shotaro Honda Moore

The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium is a gorgeous facility right next to the location of the New National Stadium. It will be the hot spot for table tennis fanatics out there come 2020. Currently it is a stage that hosts anything from small local events to massive international tournaments. The gymnasium has been a mainstay in Tokyo in terms of big venues for over sixty years. Being the closest venue to the new national stadium, it will be one of the busiest facilities and high traffic areas. Lets take a look at the events, location, the venue and some nearby attractions.

Events

Olympics: The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium will play host to the table tennis events for 2020. Don’t you dare call it ping pong as it is serious business, especially here in East Asia. Currently eight out of the top ten table tennis male athletes are from east Asia. The other two are from Germany. For women’s table tennis the diversity is even less, with all top ten current players being from Asian countries.

Here is a link to those rankings:

Table tennis has been part of the Summer Olympics since 1988 when it was first hosted in Seoul. Since then there has been 32 gold medals handed out in the different events. China has won a total of 28 of these gold medals thus far. This dominance would cause changes to the events in 2012. The rule change would limit the number of competitors from each country to two per event.

Paralympics: For the 2020 Paralympic Games, the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium will also host the table tennis tournament as well. One of the original events of the games, table tennis has been in the Paralympics since it’s creation in 1960. Since then there has been many thrilling events and intriguing results. Unlike the ridiculous dominance of China at the Olympic games, there is a much larger diversity among champions. There has been 67 German gold medalists when combining “West Germany’s” results with “Germany’s”. That is eight more than China, who comes in second with 59. France comes in third with capturing 34 first place finishes. This uncertainty to the results has made it one of the most competitive events. It explains why it remains a staple and mainstay at the Paralympics.

Location

View from Sendagaya Station’s entrance from the south. The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium can be seen quite clearly. ©Shotaro Honda Moore

The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium is in Sendagaya, which is part of Shibuya. It is important to note that despite being in Shibuya, it not near Shibuya Station. The closest train station is Sendagaya Station, a mere four minute train ride from Shinjuku Station. It is part of the Chuo-Sobu Line(JB 13) and is a small single platform station. The closest subway station is the Kokuritsu Kyogji which is part of the Oedo Line. The train station is just a couple hundred meters away from the complex. As soon as exiting to the south, you can immediately see the facility to your left. You’ll have to cross a single set of traffic lights but that’s about it. This is possibly one of the easiest venues to find.

Venue

The original construction of the facilities began in 1952 and was finished by 1954. It would host the iconic gymnastic events during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It is not a single gymnasium, but rather three separate facilities making up the complex.

The main building to the left, with the second facility seen in the distance to the right. ©Shotaro Honda Moore

The first is the main arena which is used for large spectacle sports, such as the 2007 Figure Skating Championships. It has a max capacity of 10,000 spectators following renovations made in 1990. It has also doubled as a concert hall for the last eighteen years, with some of the biggest stars performing there, including Katy Perry in 2015. It is a three story facility with a couple lounges to relax and eat in. From a cafe, to a concession stand named “The Square” to vending machines, it has many places to sit down to for a quick bite to eat. Additional food services will possibly be served during the Olympics on top of regular sales.

The Northern Lounge and a map showing the layout of seating. ©Shotaro Honda Moore

The secondary facility has an Olympic sized swimming pool that is used anually for Japan’s Water Polo Championships. The second facility is not simply just a venue for events, but also serves as a fitness complex filled with Tokyo residents working out. There is a gym, pool and dance studio all open to the public, seven days a week. A one month pass goes for roughly 8000 yen, while a day pass is around 2500 yen.

Finally there is a small track and soccer facility in the back section. It is offered to the public but can be rented out for group events such as futsal, soccer games or training.

A map of the facilities at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. ©Shotaro Honda Moore

Nearby Attractions

National Noh Theatre: A mere 7 minute walk away from the gymnasium is the National Noh Theatre. Noh is a form of traditional Japanese theatre, performed since the 14th century. This unique form of performance is a combination of drama and traditional Japanese music. Noh theatre incorporates other aspects, most specifically the wearing of masks and a dance based performance. This requires highly skilled actors who have to convey emotion through means other than facial expressions.

The National Noh Theatre has been a spot representing Japanese arts since its creation in 1983. The main theatre seats just under 600, which makes it for an intimate experience. Since its creation, the performances have expanded from just traditional noh theatre. It now includes acts in both Kyogen and the popular Kabuki. If you are interested in catching a show you can find a link to the website below.

Shinjuku Gyoen Garden: On the other side of Sendagaya Station, a five minute walk from Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, is the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Originally built during the Edo period by feudal lords, it was all but destroyed during World War Two. It was rebuilt and opened to the public in 1949.

A renowned garden that is actually a combination of three distinct styles. It has a traditional Japanese landscape garden, featuring the classic large ponds with many small dotted island that can be found at other famous sites. What makes this garden more unique is it also contains a English landscape garden and a French inspired garden. It makes for a nice walk as you can see the range of styles. Admission to the garden is only 200 yen and it is open from 9am-4:30pm.

Map of Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens.

The normally relatively quite area will be jammed packed with athletes, fans and media come 2020. With the organization and hype for the games ramping up, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium will become one of the focal points during the game. If you get a chance to stop by the facility during Tokyo 2020, you won’t be let down.

If you wish to get in touch, you can contact me at: shotarohmoore@hotmail.com

A lowered seating area in the middle of the facility where one can relax. ©Shotaro Honda Moore

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A writer living in Japan. Creating articles about the 2020 Tokyo Games. A regular contributor to Junkture Magazine. https://www.junkturemagazine.com

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Shotaro Honda Moore

Shotaro Honda Moore

A writer living in Japan. Creating articles about the 2020 Tokyo Games. A regular contributor to Junkture Magazine. https://www.junkturemagazine.com

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