Tokyo 1964; Exhibition: ‘Tokyo 1964: Designing Tomorrow’ (Japan House London)

Press release provided by Japan House London




Japan House London opens Tokyo 1964: Designing Tomorrow, on 5 August 2021 to explore the revolutionary cultural and design legacy behind the historic Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games. The exhibition shares stories and artefacts never seen before in the UK and runs until 7 November 2021.

The 1964 Games were Japan’s first, large-scale engagement with the world after the Second World War. They presented a chance to tell a fresh story and showcase Japanese creativity and design thinking across the globe, an opportunity elevated by the 1964 Games being the first to be broadcast in colour on TV to a world-wide audience via satellite.

Japan’s hosting of the Games coincided with the country’s emergence as a global leader in technological innovation. Winning the bid to host the Games increased Japan’s newfound sense of confidence and creativity epitomized by innovations such as the high speed Tōkaidō Shinkansen, or ‘bullet train’, and elevated super-highways that dramatically transformed the urban landscape with ‘space age’ design through to Seiko’s 1,278 state-of-the-art timing devices that performed precisely without errors.

This optimistic and creative environment challenged and enabled Japanese architects and designers working on the 1964 Games to develop some of the most radical architectural and graphic design that has ever been created.

These designs still resonate and influence today, including:

  • Sleek, Bauhaus-inspired modernist advertising posters created by the innovative design team led by award-winning graphic designer Kamekura Yūsaku.
  • Specially devised pictograms that helped create a visual language to guide the largest ever number of visitors to Japan the country had ever seen.
  • Striking national architecture for stadia, typified via the pioneering building design of the Olympic Memorial Tower and Yoyogi National Stadium amongst others.
  • The pioneering use of technology at the Games. From the first colour broadcasts via a geostationary satellite to the split-second accuracy of precision timekeeping provided by Seiko.


Exhibits on display include:

  • Original 1964 posters designed by Kamekura Yūsaku and the award-winning team of post-war designers, marking the first time that photography was used to promote an Olympic Games.
  • Tickets, posters and the design guide itself which, for the first time in a worldwide sporting event, set out the visual brand including logotype, typography and the set of newly created pictograms.
  • Architectural models showcasing the pioneering design of buildings such as the Olympic Memorial Tower by Ashihara Yoshinobu and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium by Tange Kenzō, the latter gaining the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize for its vast suspension roof design.
  • Uniform designs from the Games, including a crafted furisode kimono with obi that were worn by those presenting medals at the awards ceremonies.
Courtesy of Prince Chichibu Memorial Sports Museum
National Indoor Stadium Main Venue and Annex Facilities Model.
This architectural presentation model was created to show the new facilities that would serve as venues for the Tokyo Olympic Games. This model shows the Yoyogi National Gymnasium and Annex, designed by Tange Kenzō. Other models exist, showing the National Stadium and Komazawa Olympic Park.
Tanseisha Co., Ltd; Wood and others; 1962; Prince Chichibu Memorial Sports Museum & Library.
Courtesy of Prince Chichibu Memorial Sports Museum
Kimono with obi, for use at medal awards ceremonies
At the awards ceremony, medals were carried on lacquered trays by female assistants dressed in different coloured, long-sleeved kimono (furisode). The furisode and obi that they wore had been specially commissioned from representative department stores across the country. This particular furisode is from Takashimaya. Their novel designs, incorporating embroidered versions of the Olympic rings, combined with the elegance of Japanese tradition, attracted global attention.
Takashimaya department store; silk; 1964; Prince Chichibu Memorial Sports Museum & Library.


The majority of objects in the exhibition are generously loaned from the Prince Chichibu Memorial Sports Museum & Library in Japan – many of which will be displayed for the first time in the UK.

Kawamura Hiroyuki, Director, Prince Chichibu Memorial Sports Museum, said: “I am very pleased that we have this opportunity to share our collection in the UK in partnership with Japan House London. Please enjoy our major exhibits including the original posters designed by Kamekura Yūsaku and the models of Yoyogi National Gymnasium designed by Tange Kenzō.”

Simon Wright, Director of Programming, Japan House London said: “This exhibition shows how the design project for the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, the first to be held in Asia, was revolutionary in creating a unified language by which to communicate the Games. It became the blueprint for subsequent major international sporting events. It illustrates Japan’s powerful emergence on the world stage after the dark years of the Second World War and how this Japanese design vision has influenced, and still influences, so much of what is now.”

A dedicated programme of events accompanies the exhibition including a look at the remarkable volleyball win by the ‘Witches of the Orient’.

Contributions to this exhibition, in the form of additional loaned items, have also come from The Seiko Museum Ginza in Japan and Central Japan Railway Company and the National Paralympic Heritage Trust in the UK.


Public Ticket Information

Tickets must be pre-booked online:

Full public information including Covid compliance and safety information can be found at:


Opening hours

Monday-Saturday: 11:00-18:00
Sunday: 12:00-18:00