Tokyoites get early start on Olympics hospitality

Tokyoites get early start on Olympics hospitality

TOKYO - Some Tokyo residents and companies are getting a head start on preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics as they offer hospitality services near venues of the 68th National Sports Festival of Japan, which closes Tuesday.

Activities have included cleaning the streets and holding tea ceremonies for visitors near the venues of the festival, which opened late last month.

For example, volleyball matches were held Sept. 29 in Machida Gymnasium in Machida, western Tokyo. Near the entrance gate, a tea ceremony house was set up with a five-meter-wide golden byobu folding screen and a bright red parasol, called nodate-gasa in Japanese. It looked out of place at a sports event.

Soka Takano, the 61-year-old head of the Machida Sado-kai tea ceremony association in the city, and her kimono-clad students prepared tea using utensils featuring chestnuts and other autumn patterns.

"Samurai warriors had tea to calm their minds before going into battle," Takano said.

Maiko Murase, 16, a second-year high school student from Gifu Prefecture, came to the site to cheer on a friend participating in the sports event. "The nice tea and hospitality of all the people here made me feel comfortable," she said with a smile.

Tea ceremonies are very popular in Machida, and the city government asked Machida Sado-kai to help conduct tea ceremonies for 500 people on a first-come, first-served basis during the three days when the sports event was held in the city.

Tea ceremonies are also popular among foreign tourists. Takano is already thinking ahead to the Olympics seven years from now, saying, "I want people from overseas to feel Japan's sense of harmony."

The main arena of the sports festival is Ajinomoto Stadium in Chofu. Many marigolds, the official flower of this year's festival, have been placed along the streets to the stadium from nearby Tobitakyu Station on the Keio Line.

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