Live updates: Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay highlights from Nara

The Olympic Torch Relay is underway in Nara! You can watch every moment of the flame's historic journey to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games on 23 July 2021 via the dedicated Tokyo 2020 live stream, as well as following the highlights as they happen via our blog, below.

12 April, 23:20 (JST): Straight out of the movies

Director of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 official movie, KAWASE Naomi was all smiles as she swapped life behind the camera for life on the road with the Olympic Torch Relay. The Nara-born director has taken a very personal approach to movie-making in the past, with documentaries about close family members.

Now the award-winning filmmaker has a new subject matter for her creative talents - none other than that Tokyo 2020 Games that will take place in 2021.

KAWASE Naomi holds the Olympic torch.
KAWASE Naomi holds the Olympic torch.
Tokyo 2020.

12 April, 16:30 (JST): Love and best wishes from a 109-year-old grandma

What an amazing moment it was when 109-year-old KAGAWA Shigeko passed on the flame!

Born in 1911, Kagawa devoted her efforts to the community as an obstetrics and gynecology doctor.

Having lived through five eras (Meiji, Taisho, Showa, Heisei and Reiwa), Kagawa said, “I would never forget the joy and excitement I shared with mothers and their families as we welcomed new life into the world during these turbulent times.”

As Kagawa made full efforts to stand up and do the “Torch Kiss”, not only did she realise her Olympic dream, but also passed on the generations of passion and best wishes.

A 109-year-old torchbearer's dream comes true
00:39

KAGAWA Shigeko, a 109-year-old grandmother, made her dream come true by participating in the Olympic Torch Relay in Nara Prefecture.

12 April, 15:20 (JST): Still so much to expect in Nara

There is so much to see and discover about Nara as the torchbearers run through the towns.

Before the Flame visit more historic sites, let’s take a look at today’s highlights through pictures.

12 April, 14:20 (JST): Amazed by the beauty of history

Filled with a rich culture, Nara Prefecture is home to many historic treasures.

After finishing its journey at Kinpusenji Temple, the Olympic flame arrived at another UNESCO World Heritage Site — Horyuji Temple.

The temple was founded in 607 by Prince Shotoku, who is renowned for his promotion of Buddhism in Japan. The Buddhist Monuments in the Horyuji Area are the earliest Buddhist monuments in Japan.

The main hall, central gate and five-story pagoda in the Western Precinct of the temple are recognised as the world's oldest surviving wooden structures.

12 April, 12:00 (JST): The Flame visits world heritage site Kinpusenji Temple

Welcomed by the grand sound of conch shell trumpets, the Olympic flame arrived at Kinpusenji Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Located on Mt. Yoshino in central Nara Prefecture, Kinpusenji is a temple of the Shugendo religion. The religion derives from the mountain worship that combines elements of both Shinto faith and Buddhism.

Nara, JAPAN - 12 April 2021 : The Olympic Torch Relay section 3 in Yoshino Town, Nara prefecture, Japan.
Nara, JAPAN - 12 April 2021 : The Olympic Torch Relay section 3 in Yoshino Town, Nara prefecture, Japan.
Tokyo 2020

12 April, 11:45 (JST): Sydney 2000 Paralympian passes on inspiration

The inspiration brought by wheelchair basketball player NEGI Shinji goes far beyond the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

Over the span of three decades, he’s served as a wheelchair basketball trainer in 3000 schools, helping around 80,000 students get to know the sport. He is also a member of JOC’s Athlete Commission.

The one-year postponement must have been very difficult for the athletes. The Games have been long awaited!

This torch is very important because it contains everyone’s thoughts and feelings. I’d like to run while thinking about these thoughts and feelings.

Nara, JAPAN - 12 April 2021 : The Olympic Torch Relay section 2 in Yamatotakada City, Nara prefecture, Japan.
Nara, JAPAN - 12 April 2021 : The Olympic Torch Relay section 2 in Yamatotakada City, Nara prefecture, Japan.
Tokyo 2020

12 April, 10:30 (JST): Bouncing back from adversity

MINAMI Kunihiro is running with a strong heart.

Over three decades ago, Minami was involved in a traffic accident which led to an impairment in his left leg. However this didn't stop him from becoming a firefighter and a PTA (Parent–Teacher Association) member; contributing in various ways to the local community.

The 56-year-old was diagnosed with stage-two cancer last year, but he bounced back one again and today he takes part in the relay with pride.

Firefighting torchbearer overcomes cancer
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After injuring his leg in a motorcycle accident, MINAMI Kunhiro went on to join the fire brigade and has also beaten cancer to run in the Olympic Torch Relay

12 April, 09:45 (JST): Cheer for the medical workers

Our first torchbearer for today is HAENO Yoshiaki, a doctor from Koryo Town.

In 2011, he joined the Japan Medical Association Team’s rescue operation following the Great East Japan Earthquake and currently works as the medical consultant at local schools and nursing homes.

As Haeno runs alongside the blooming tulips, let’s cheer for him and all the health care workers who are on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.

Olympic Torch Relay underway in Nara
00:23

It is the final day of the Olympic Torch Relay in Nara Prefecture and the day started off from Umami Hills Park which stretches from Koryo Town to Yamato Takada City

12 April, 09:15 (JST): Watch out for some furry friends along the way

Along with historic landmarks and stunning vistas, Nara is famous for its deer, which have become symbols of the city. Within Nara Park lies a shrine called Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and legend has it that the deity that lies within the shrine rode upon the back of a sacred deer. For this reason, deer are considered to be sacred animals throughout Japan.

These furry friends - known locally as "deer crackers" or shika senbai - are something to keep a lookout for, as the flame makes its way across the prefecture.

A sika deer stands on 12 March, 2020 in Nara, Japan. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
A sika deer stands on 12 March, 2020 in Nara, Japan. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
2020 Getty Images

12 April, 09:00 (JST): Welcome to Koryo Town!

Welcome to the first second of the Olympic Torch Relay in Nara! Today's journey begins in Koryo Town, a location that for a short time between 640 and 642 AD was the capital of Japan. From there, the flame will make its way to Kawai Town and Kashiba City, Yamatotakada City, Yoshino Town, Ikaruga Town, Yamatokoriyama City and Nara City, Uda City and Ikoma City, before ending its journey in Nara City.

Nara City was the first permanent capital of Japan and, as such, is still filled with ancient treasures, artefacts and temples.

You can watch all of the day's action unfold live right here on Tokyo 2020.