Highlights from the Olympic Torch Relay in Fukushima

ENDO Sho 3

The Olympic Torch Relay is underway in Fukushima! You can watch every moment of its historic 121-day 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.

26 March, 17:00 (JST): Drumming to the same beat..

Watch the moment the Olympic flame visited Kawamata town on the second day of the Olympic Torch Relay.

Japanese drums at Kawamata Town
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26 March, 16:50 (JST): Olympic Torch enters with skiier

Three-time winter Olympian ENDO Sho skied his way through his leg in Inawashiro!

Winter Olympian ENDO Sho skis in with Olympic torch
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Three-time Winter Olympic Freestyle Skiier ENDO Sho of Japan came skiing in with the Olympic torch during Day 2 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay

26 March, 15:00 (JST)

More torch kisses and torch poses, plus a local baseball team carrying the torch to express their gratitude to local people for their support. See what's going on Fukushima by flicking through our image gallery highlights of the day.

26 March, 11:00 (JST): Gaku MC runs with Torch

Gaku MC, a Japanese rapper and musician who has volunteered and initiated projects to help disaster-stricken areas after the Great East Japan Earthquake, now carries the torch to spread the message of hope to Tohoku citizens.

26 March, 9:01 (JST): First torch kiss of Day 2

It's the first torch kiss of the day in the city of Soma between torchbearers Rio Suzuki and one of the members of Foorin musical group, who sang the 'Paprika song' for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

26 March, 09:00 (JST): And... we're... off! Here's what you can look forward to today

Today's journey begins at 9:00 am in Soma City - known for its incredible horse races that take place in full samurai attire. From there, the torch will make its way across many other emblematic destinations in the prefecture, including Fukushima City (11:18 am), the capital of the prefecture, and the ancient Mishima Town (14:15 pm), home of the famous Shinto Shrine.

As always, keep a lookout for the torch kiss poses the torchbearers use when passing the flame to the next runner.

26 March, 08:45 (JST): The torch as a symbol of hope, reconstruction and recovery in Fukushima

A decade ago, almost to the week, Fukushima was the location of a devastating disaster following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Discover the story of one of the torchbearers who wants to bring hope to the local people through his role in the Olympic Torch Relay.

26 March, 08:30 (JST): Day 2 of the Olympic Torch Relay is about to begin!

Welcome to the second day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay in Fukushima. Yesterday was packed to the brim with exciting moments, from the Grand Start ceremony through to the lighting of the torch and the first torchbearers - Japan's Women's National Football Team - taking the torch on its first steps of a journey across Japan.

If you missed any of the action, check out the extended day 1 highlights video below.

Olympic Torch Relay Highlights Ep5
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Highlights from the Grand Start ceremony as the Olympic Torch Relay gets underway in Fukushima.

25 March, 13:50 (JST): Check out the highlights from the Grand Start ceremony

Olympic Torch Relay Highlights - Day 1
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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay began its 121-day journey across Japan on 25 March with the Grand Start in Fukushima

25 March, 12:00 (JST): "It moved me to tears, I was so happy" - HASHIMOTO Seiko

Tokyo 2020 President HASHIMOTO Seiko was deeply moved by the Olympic Torch Relay and the poignant fact that it coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. One little-known fact is that her father gave her the name Seiko after watching the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony - the kanji character for 'Olympic flame' is included in the name Seiko.

"I feel like it’s all finally underway. It so happens these Games were postponed and as a result, overlapped with the 10-year anniversary of the earthquake. I couldn’t be more grateful if we got through the 121 days in one piece. When we started the relay and the torch was lit, it moved me to tears. I was so happy."

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto applauds next to the celebration cauldron during the on the the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay (Pool/Getty Images)
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto applauds next to the celebration cauldron during the on the the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay (Pool/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

25 March, 11:30 (JST): "I feel like half of me was made in Fukushima"

For many of the torchbearers, running through the streets of Fukushima is an extremely personal experience. FIFA Women's World Cup star, MARUYAMA Karina, lived in Fukushima and feels a special bond with the area:

"I spent five years in Fukushima and I feel like half of me was made in Fukushima. I thought about the people here as I ran."

25 March, 11:40 (JST) VIDEO of Nadeshiko Japan starting the Olympic Torch Relay

Olympic Torch Relay Highlights Ep8
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25 March, 11:30 (JST): IWASHIMIZU Azusa expresses her pride at being a torchbearer

IWASHIMIZU Azusa, 2011 Women's World Cup winner and the first reliever of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, had this to say about her experience:

"With more senior players on the team than me, it was an absolute honour to be the first one to take the torch. I was over the moon. Personally, I hope I did Iwate and the Tohoku region proud. It was great to get the team back together again after 10 years."

25 March, 10:45 (JST): 2011 Japan's Women's National Football Team carry the torch

Re-live the moment members of Japan's 2011 Women's World Cup-winning team kicked off the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay. IWASHIMIZU Azusa was the first reliever to run with the torch, as it began its 121-day journey across Japan.

25 March, 10:30 (JST): The torch kiss poses

One of the highlights of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay is the addition of the torch kiss poses that torchbearers use to pass on the flame to the next runner. Find your favourite here and keep your eyes open to see the different poses the torchbearers choose throughout the day.

NARAHA, JAPAN - MARCH 25: Torchbearer Azusa Iwashimizu (R), a member of Japan women's national football team, passes the Olympic flame to the high school student Asato Owada at a torch kiss point during the torch relay grand start outside the J Village during the Tokyo Olympic Games torch relay on March 25, 2021 in Naraha, Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Philip Fong - Pool/Getty Images)
NARAHA, JAPAN - MARCH 25: Torchbearer Azusa Iwashimizu (R), a member of Japan women's national football team, passes the Olympic flame to the high school student Asato Owada at a torch kiss point during the torch relay grand start outside the J Village during the Tokyo Olympic Games torch relay on March 25, 2021 in Naraha, Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Philip Fong - Pool/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

25 March, 10:00 (JST): A look back at the Grand Start ceremony

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay got off to a memorable beginning with the Grand Start ceremony. Check out the photo gallery below to re-live some of the best moments.

25 March, 09:55 (JST): World Cup winners pass on the Torch to the next generation

It’s an emotional morning in Fukushima but if there’s one person you’d trust to hold the Torch steady is 16-year-old goalkeeper OWADA Asato. The third-year High School student plays football on these pitches for the J-Village Football Team and he has the largest smile as he receives the Torch from the 2011 World Cup winners.

What a moment for Asato.

25 March, 09:54 (JST): The torch is on the move

FIFA Women's World Cup winner IWASHIMIZU Azusa is the first reliever to take possession of the torch. Torchbearers will run an average of 200m before passing the torch onto the next runner using a torch kiss pose.

25 March, 09:40 (JST): The Olympic Torch Relay has begun!

The Olympic torch has been lit and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay is officially underway! Watch the full live-stream now as the torch begins its 121-day journey across the 47 prefectures of Japan.

NARAHA, JAPAN - MARCH 25: Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto looks on as actor Satomi Ishihara and Paralympian Aki Taguchi light the celebration cauldron during the opening ceremony ahead of the the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay at the J Village during the Tokyo Olympic Games torch relay on March 25, 2021 in Naraha, Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon - Pool/Getty Images)
NARAHA, JAPAN - MARCH 25: Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto looks on as actor Satomi Ishihara and Paralympian Aki Taguchi light the celebration cauldron during the opening ceremony ahead of the the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay at the J Village during the Tokyo Olympic Games torch relay on March 25, 2021 in Naraha, Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon - Pool/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

25 March, 09:30 (JST): "The flowers will bloom"

A Fukushima choir made up of students from the local area have performed a rendition of a song to support the area's recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Check it out below.

25 March, 09:30 (JST): The famous roots of J-Village

Did you know that the venue of today's ceremony, J-Village, was given its name by an English football legend? In the late 1990s, former Manchester United star Sir Bobby Charlton named the arena after providing advice on the construction of Japan’s National Training Centre in Fukushima.

25 March, 09:05 (JST): The Grand Start ceremony is underway

The Olympic Torch Relay Grand Start ceremony has officially begun in Fukushima with comedic duo Sandwich Man bringing out the lantern to great fanfare.

Remember, you can watch every minute of the torch relay via the dedicated Tokyo 2020 live stream from today until 23 July 2021, right here on Tokyo 2020.

NARAHA, JAPAN - MARCH 25: Japanese comedy duo Sandwich Man enter with the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay at the J Village on March 25, 2021 in Naraha, Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon - Pool/Getty Images)
NARAHA, JAPAN - MARCH 25: Japanese comedy duo Sandwich Man enter with the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay at the J Village on March 25, 2021 in Naraha, Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon - Pool/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

25 March, 09:00 (JST): The Hula Girls take to the stage

Eleven members of the Spa Resort Hawaiians Dancing Team - nicknamed the Hula Girls - performed a rousing dance number at the Grand Start ceremony pre-show. The same group helped lift the mood of people all over Japan following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

25 March, 08:30 (JST): Pre-show gets underway!

The ceremony is 30 minutes away and you can follow all the action on the Tokyo 2020 YouTube channel below.

25 March, 08:30 (JST): Olympic Torch Relays from the past

With just 30 minutes to go until the Grand Start ceremony, why not take a trip down memory lane and relive the most iconic Torch Relays from the past; from London 1948 to the last time the Torch was in town - Tokyo 1964.

You can read about these, and more, on Tokyo 2020.

Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson of the USA carries the torch past the ancient landmark of Stone Henge.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson of the USA carries the torch past the ancient landmark of Stone Henge. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
2012 Getty Images

25 March, 08:25 (JST): The Olympic Torch Relay in numbers

Today marks a new milestone towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as the Olympic Torch Relay kick-starts the countdown to the Opening Ceremony of Tokyo 2020 on 23 July 2021.

But before we get proceedings underway, how much do you really know about the Torch Relay? Test your knowledge by taking a look at the Olympic Torch Relay in numbers.

25 March, 08:14 (JST): Lights... camera... action!

One of the most famous sights in Tokyo is about to turn red, green, blue, yellow... The TOKYO SKYTREE® will be illuminated in all the colours of each of the 47 prefectures in Japan over the coming months and you can see them all here:

25 March, 08:10 (JST): Tokyo 2020 welcomes the world to Fukushima

Welcome to our live coverage of the Olympic Torch Relay Grand Start!

There's just over an hour to go until the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay and we'll bring you everything you need to know about the occasion - as well as keeping you informed and entertained along the way - as the country marks 121-days to go until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The countdown is on...