Live updates: Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay highlights from Tokushima 

The Olympic Torch Relay is underway in Tokushima! 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.

16 April, 16:00 (JST): From Tokyo 1964 to Tokyo 2020

It was almost 57-years ago BANDO Kazuyuki carried the Olympic flame during the Tokyo 1964 Torch Relay.

Bando went on to become a health and physical education teacher and even in his retirement he participated in various events including the Tokushima Marathon, and has volunteered as a special-needs education support staff in Komatsushima City for the past decade.

Upon applying to be a torchbearer for Tokyo 2020 Bando said:

I wanted to share the excitement of the torch relay with my 17-year-old grandson, who is the same age as I was at the time [of being a torchbearer at Tokyo 1964].

16 April, 15:00 (JST): Re-live the Torch Relay in Tokushima

The Olympic Torch Relay in Tokushima Prefecture will come to an end this evening in Tokushima City but before then re-live all the action from the journey so far.

16 April, 14:30 (JST): Traditional dolls greet torchbearer

INARI Minoru is the chairperson of a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving and developing local folk culture. He is also in charge of the Big Hina Matsuri, the girl's festival featuring dolls from all over Japan.

The Big Hina Matsuri, held every year between February and April, sees used dolls that people no longer put out for decoration collected and put on display after holding a memorial service for them. More than 30,000 dolls are displayed on an 8m high, 100-stepped stage.

After running the last uphill stretch, Inari, who is undertaking the Japan 100 Famous Mountains Challenge, ended the Olympic flame's journey in Katsuura Town, where he was greeted by hundreds of hina dolls.

Did you know that this hasn't been the first time that hina dolls have been displayed in the Games? In Rio 2016, over 1000 hina dolls have been showcased and seen by spectators who had a chance to learn about this unique Japanese tradition.

Hina dolls in Tokushima

As chairperson of the the famous Big Hina Matsuri, a festival that sees thousands of dolls displayed, INARI Minoru was greeted by many Hina dolls as he finished his leg of the Olympic Torch Relay.

16 April, 13:30 (JST): The dancing torchbearer

During the Olympic flame's journey through the mountains of Kamikatsu Town, torchbearer SAIIKE Kiyomi, who regularly participates in Awa Odori - started to show her dance skills during her run.

Awa Odori, held during Obon season, is not only the largest dance festival held in Japan but one of the most famous. The festival dates back over 400 years.

16 April, 11:30 (JST): Welcoming the world to Tokushima

After 31 years of working at a local daycare centre, Meg decided to retire in March last year so she could volunteer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She applied to be a torchbearer to provide hope for the future generations in her hometown.

She is still very active up to this day: She runs more than 10km everyday and has been to more than 88 places on the island of Shikoku even climbing My Koya, which is known as the centre of Shingon Buddhism. She works as a guide for blind runners and attends a sign language club, and a Braille translation training course.

Meg has always been active in her community, participating as a volunteer during the Great East Japan Earthquake. Throughout her life, she has met many different people and experienced many different cultures. She hopes Tokushima can be a place where everyone of all ages and background can live together in harmony.

As a torchbearer, I will continue to carry the torch, hoping for peace and happiness for everyone in the world.

Tokyo 2020

16 April, 09:30 (JST): A mission to give back

FUJITA Yasushi grew up in Tokushima before making the move to Tokyo to start his own business after finishing university. Sadly, five months after moving, his father passed away. Worried for his mother, Fujita wanted to return home but his mother pushed him to continue with his business and contribute to the local community.

So far Fujita has established a yuzu (a Japanese citron) business in his hometown, a campground, and is planning a new style of convenience store and lodging facility.

I applied for the position [of torchbearer] because I want to contribute to the revitalisation of the local community on the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics, which will allow us to connect with the world.

Today Fujita carries the Olympic flame in Kaiyo Town, as he continues to give back to his home prefecture.

I am convinced that I would not be where I am today without my hometown Tokushima, and I consider it my mission to give back to Tokushima.

Tokyo 2020

16 April, 09:00 (JST): A torchbearer preserving centuries-old traditions

One of the people chosen to be a torchbearer in Tokushima is FUJIMOTO Takatsugu, a villager from Koyadaira, Mima. Fujimoto has seen many changes to the local area in his lifetime, including the near-disappearance of 'aratae', a hemp fabric that has for centuries been indispensable to the great imperial succession ceremony. In 2017, Fujimoto created a local non-profit to preserve this ancient tradition that included safeguarding the hemp itself.

To read more about how Fujimoto is working to conserve local customs and his reason for participating in the Olympic Torch Relay, read here.

16 April, 08:50 (JST): Welcome to Kaiyo Town!

Welcome to the second day of the Olympic Torch Relay in Tokushima! The flame begins today's journey in Kaiyo Town, located in the Kaifu district of Tokushima. Kaifu is a relatively new location, having been founded in 2006, but the area is renowned for its beautiful seaside attractions and scenery.

From Kaiyo, the flame will travel to Mugi Town, Kamikatsu Town, Minami Town, Naka Town, Katsuura Town, Anan City, Komatsushima City and Sanagochi Village, before ending the day in Tokushima City.

Tokushima City has become synonymous with dancing and the Awa Odori Festival that takes place each year is at the centre of Japanese traditional dance culture.

Fun fact: The Awa-Odori dance itself is known as the "fool's dance." But there's nothing silly about what's in store today... it promises to be seriously good!

15 April, 22:00 (JST): Marathon Olympian runs the final section of the day

As the sun went down on another beautiful day of the Olympic Torch Relay, Sydney 2000 Olympian and 1999 Seville World Championships silver medallist, ICHIHASHI Ari was the final torchbearer to carry the flame.

It is perhaps fitting that a marathon runner should be the day's last runner, after an epic relay leg that took in some of the greatest sights in the prefecture of Tokushima. Ichihashi finished 15th when she made her own Olympic appearance 21 years ago in Australia. Today she had the chance to represent her country once again, as the eyes of the world focus on Japan with 99 days to go until the start of the Games.

ICHIHASHI Ari runs during day one of the Olympic Torch Relay in Tokushima.
ICHIHASHI Ari runs during day one of the Olympic Torch Relay in Tokushima.

15 April, 16:00 (JST): Photo check-in

As we head into the late afternoon of the Olympic Torch Relay in Tokushima Prefecture, check out the photos from this morning adventures in Miyoshi City, Mima City, Awa City, Yoshinagawa City and Kamiita City.

15 April, 15:40 (JST): Inspired by sports

Sport has the power to change the world and this has been true for KUROIWA Tomei. When she watched the Tokyo 1964 Olympics as a freshman at Kamiita Junior High School, she was inspired to take up athletics and has even set records in the 100m and 200m relay in Tokushima!

Now at 68-years-old, she is still as passionate as ever for sports, working as a running leader for the University of Tokushima whilst still taking part in annual local marathons. But today, she is one step closer to the Olympics - running with the torch in her hometown, the same place that helped her sports career flourish.

Tokushima, JAPAN - 15 APRIL 2021 : The Olympic Torch Relay section 5 in Ishii Town and Kamiita Town, Tokushima prefecture, Japan.
Tokushima, JAPAN - 15 APRIL 2021 : The Olympic Torch Relay section 5 in Ishii Town and Kamiita Town, Tokushima prefecture, Japan.
Tokyo 2020

15 April, 12:20 (JST): Olympic torch from 1964 meets its 2020 version!

Our next torchbearer HARADA Ruka is around the same age as his grandfather was when the latter carried the torch during the relay ahead of the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games.

Now the 13-year-old is doing the same for Awa City, Tokushima, carrying his grandfather's legacy forward 57 years later, this time for Tokyo 2020.

An avid soccer player, Harada's grandfather once missed out on watching him play during a school tournament due to an illness, but he is there today to cheer his grandson on - whilst carrying the Tokyo 1964 Olympic torch!

HARADA Ruka carries legacy of Tokyo 1964 torchbearer grandpa

It wasn't the first time a member of HARADA Ruka family has participated in an Olympic Torch Relay with his grandfather being a runner during the one at Tokyo 1964.

15 April, 10:25 (JST): Weaving around a white-knuckle course

We're now in Tsurugi City where the relay begins at the famed Yoshino river, known as Japan's wildest waterway. It also happens to be Tokushima's largest river and is a prime location for adventure seekers looking for whitewater rafting, canyoning and kayaking.

Every year in Oboke and Koboke gorges, outdoor adventurers converge to take part in an annual global rafting competition.

But not today though, as the flame takes centre stage as it weaves and winds around the region.

Did you know that canoe slalom and canoe sprint will both take place at Tokyo 2020? You can even experience what it looks like to be an Olympic sprint athlete by trying our Let’s 55 virtual experience with MIZUMOTO Keiji – a front-runner for Olympic selection in canoe sprint K-4 for Japan!

15 April, 09:25 (JST): Nadeshiko League referee carries the torch for his hometown

MATSUO Kumiko wants to "give dreams and hope to everyone through sports" - and that's exactly what she's been doing throughout his career as a professional referee for the women's top-flight football division in Japan - the Nadeshiko league - as well as refereeing women's Futsal for the Tokushima Prefectural FA.

Today in Miyoshi City, Matsuo gives a nod to his hometown for shaping her career in sports, whilst also encouraging people to keep chasing their dreams.

Tokushima, JAPAN - 15 APRIL 2021 : The Olympic Torch Relay section 1 in Miyoshi City and Higashimiyoshi Town, Tokushima prefecture, Japan.
Tokushima, JAPAN - 15 APRIL 2021 : The Olympic Torch Relay section 1 in Miyoshi City and Higashimiyoshi Town, Tokushima prefecture, Japan.
Tokyo 2020

15 April, 09:10 (JST): Memories of Tokyo 1964

A former teach at a local Tokushima school, NAKAISHI Asako still vividly remembers watching the Tokyo 1964 Games with her students on television 57 years ago. Now at 90-years-old, she still holds those memories in her heart and is cheering for Tokyo 2020 in Miyoshi City whilst proudly carrying the flame for her beloved hometown Tokushima, where she has lived all her life.

Former teacher remembers Tokyo 1964

NAKAISHI Asako still vividly remembers watching the Tokyo 1964 Games and today the 90-year-old carried the flame in Tokushima Prefecture.

15 April, 08:55 (JST): A region awash with Awa culture

One of the standout features of Tokushima is the traditional Awa culture, famous for the Awa Dance Festival that has become one of the main attractions of the prefecture. The festival is said to date back to the 12th century AD and the dance traditions of Buddhist priests. Now it attracts people from across the world who flock to see the colourful displays of synchronised movement as the performers dance through the streets of Tokushima.

Tokushima City・ Awa-odori
Tokushima City・ Awa-odori

15 April, 08:40 (JST): Welcome to Tokushima!

Welcome to the first day of the Olympic Torch Relay in Tokushima! The flame begins its journey in Higashimiyoshi in Miyoshi City, a small town surrounded by lush mountains that are covered in local flora and fauna.

From Higashimiyoshi it will make its way to Tsurugi Town, Mima City, Awa City, Yoshinogawa City, Kamiyama Town, Ishii Town, Kamiita Town, Itano Town, Aizumi Town, Kitajima Town and Matsushige Town, before ending the day in Naruto City.

Fun fact: Naruto City is famous for its tidal whirlpools, a natural phenomenon that can be viewed beneath the Onaruto Bridge. So settle down and get ready for a day full of twists, turns and surprises.

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

Naruto City・ Naruto Vortex
Naruto City・ Naruto Vortex