The Spectacle of Olympic Tokyo and Imperial Japan
This study analyzes the various domestic and international discourses that emerged
during the planning of the 1940 Tokyo games. Domestically, the 2,600th Kigen celebrations, including the 1940 Olympics, came under increased state scrutiny as 1940
approached because they were to be the pre-eminent national commemoration for the Japanese empire before World War Two. The speciﬁc debates over the Olympic ﬂame
route, the main stadium of Meiji Shrine Outer Gardens and the Emperor’s voice, reveal the degree to which displaying ‘‘Tokyo, Japan’’ within the context of the Olympic Games,
on the occasion of the national founding’s 2,600th anniversary, emerged as highly contentious. The process of demarcating what was unique and indigenous about the national and spiritual culture of Japan, however, was an often contentious exercise that
mimicked the impossible process of tracing the inside from the outside of a Mo¨bius strip. The intense debates suggest that the difﬁculty of representing the identity of 1930s
‘‘Japan’’ through the Olympic Games was due, in part, to the new ways in which various aspects of Japanese national culture were being deﬁned as Japan expanded in Asia.