The Yomiuri Shimbun A group of students from Toyo Gakuen University in Bunkyo Ward are creating a photographic record of the construction of the new National Stadium, which will be the main venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
They have regularly photographed the site, starting before work on the stadium began in May 2016.
They’ve put their hearts into the project, aiming to leave a historical record of how the neighborhood has changed.
The photographs are being taken as part of the “modern urban culture seminar” led by Toyo Gakuen Prof. Noriyuki Yasumatsu, 45. July 18 marked the group’s 82nd visit to the site to take photographs with their smartphones.
Their observation point is the roof of a seven-story building close to the stadium, where they take pictures every two weeks.
When placed side by side, the photos show cranes being set up on a flat piece of ground, then the exterior walls gradually going up until the structure nears completion.
The project began under another Toyo professor who wanted people “to feel how the neighborhood changes due to involvement in an Olympics that our country is hosting.”
Students in the seminar have come and gone but the photography has continued, with the project eventually being taken over by Yasumatsu. Overall, about 40 students have taken part.
Toyo Gakuen University was formerly called Toyo Women’s College. Kiichi Aichi, one of the college’s presidents, was a director of the organizing committee for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Yasumatsu said there were major changes to the neighborhood before and after the 1964 Games, what with Shinkansen bullet train line, expressways and other major projects being undertaken during the period of high economic growth. This time, the changes are not so profound.
“It’s a valuable opportunity to feel the changes the new National Stadium is bringing to the neighborhood. I want these regular observations to create a more familiar way of understanding community-building and the Olympics,” Yasumatsu said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the completed structure looks like and to see how excited Tokyo gets for the Games,” said Takuya Yamachika, 24, a third-year student who is part of the seminar.
The students plan to continue their observations after the stadium is finished. They will be there during the Olympics and afterward, and are making various plans such as compiling their records in a booklet.
Stadium 90% finished
Construction of the stadium is now about 90 percent finished, and sod for the field is being laid. The stadium is expected to be completed by the end of November.
Initially, a novel design involving two huge keel arches was adopted for the stadium in 2012, which was expected to cost more than ¥300 billion to build.
In the face of mounting criticism, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scrapped this design in July 2015.
In December of that year, a stadium designed by Kengo Kuma was chosen. This structure is being built using domestic cedar, and features layers of deep eaves.
The total cost was reduced to about ¥149 billion, and construction began in December 2016. This was 14 months behind schedule, but work has proceeded smoothly.
The stadium is to serve as the main Olympic venue, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track and field and the women’s soccer final.