Positive Recycling of Forest Resources Born out of Tokyo

The Athletes' Village Plaza, made out of wood from all over the country; the new Japan National Stadium, made using an abundant amount of domestic lumber; and the "wood culture" depicted in the opening ceremony performances... The Tokyo 2020 Games, while held a year late, were an opportunity to show the world that Japan is a nation of forests.
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Wood Provided by 63 Municipalities Nationwide

The Tokyo 2020 Games were held under high alert to prevent the spread of COVID-19. During their stay in Tokyo, athletes from around the globe were supported at the "Athletes' Village Plaza," a center of exchange set up in Chuo City.

The plaza was made up of five wooden buildings that served a variety of purposes, including a café, post office, dry cleaning shop, hair salon, and media center.

The wooden materials used for the facility were loaned from 63 municipalities across the country free of charge, with lumber from Tokyo included amongst them. In fact, about 40% of Tokyo's land area is forested, and forestry has been a thriving practice since the olden days.

At previous Games, the buildings and temporary facilities used for each Athletes' Village have often been taken down after the event's closing. The design of the Village Plaza at this year's Games used wood in a puzzle-like configuration to encourage reuse, with the wood being returned to its respective municipality after dismantling. Because wood can store carbon for a considerable period of time even after it has been processed, this act of recycling plays an important role in combating global warming.

The wood, branded with the emblem of the Games to represent diversity and harmony, will be returned to the various municipalities on a rolling basis through February 2022. Returning the pieces of wood to each region will serve as an opportunity to recount the story of the Tokyo 2020 Games, and by spurring the reuse of lumber, this act will undoubtedly play a role in realizing the world's goal of a decarbonized society by 2050.

The environment and sustainability were important themes at this year's event, and the wood from the Village Plaza will surely go down as a key legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

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Traditional Techniques Applied at the New National Stadium

Japanese wood and wooden buildings were used not just for the Village Plaza at this year's Games. A signature example of Japanese wood in action is the new Japan National Stadium, which served as the main stadium for the competition.

Wood and greenery were incorporated throughout the new Japan National Stadium to create a lush green building that makes the most of nature's blessings. It is also dubbed "The Stadium in the Forest" because of its harmony with the surrounding nature of the Meiji Shrine Outer Garden. The building is adorned with eaves, characteristic of Japanese architecture, while its ecological structure mitigates the glare of sunlight and encourages airflow, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

At the opening ceremony, a performance that imitated woodworking also left an impression. Massive four-meter-wide wooden rings formed the classic Olympic symbol and marked the start of the Games.

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Ingenuity Needed Today Found in Ancient Tradition

For the ancient Japanese people, mountains and forests were not just places to gather wood, but were also home to the gods. Living amongst nature, they used what the environment gave them with care. The notion of sustainability has thus long been rooted in Japan, the "nation of forests."

With words like "sustainability" and "SDGs" coming up frequently in recent years, people today are reminded once again that traditional Japanese wisdom and ways of thinking are full of ingenuity and ideas that are needed in the modern age.

The whole world had their eyes on the Tokyo 2020 Games. In today's age of rapid social, economic, and technological advancements, the event may prove to have been an opportunity for people to stop and think about the global environment at a more relaxed pace, just as wood grows.

Translated by Amitt