Episode 336 – Let the Games Begin, Part 1

This week, we’re starting a series on the history of the Olympic movement in Japan. How did Japan get involved in the Olympics? What factors drove Japanese participation? And what ever happened to Japan’s first attempt to host the Olympic games — the 1940 Olympics that never were.


Kruger, Arnd and William Murray. The Nazi Olympics: Sports, Politics, and Appeasement in the 1930s.

Abel, Jessamyn R. “Ultranationalism, People’s Diplomacy, and the Phantom Tokyo Olympics.” in The International Minimum: Creativity and Contradiction in Japan’s Global Engagement, 1933-1964. 

Guttmann, Allen and Lee Thompson. Japanese Sports: A History. 

Holthus, Barbara, Isaac Gagne, and Franz Waldenberger. Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics.



Kanakuri Shiso finishing his marathon in 1967. Gotta say, I find his story kinda heartwarming in a weird way.
Though the 1940 games were cancelled by the summer of 1938, there were already some pieces of memorabilia produced for them — like this poster.
Japan’s delegation at the 1912 Olympics, the first Japanese team ever to go to the games. Mishima Yahiko is the one holding the flag.
The 1936 Olympics were the first time the torch relay took place; the event, intended as a PR stunt for the Nazis, was commemorated with stamps like this one. The question of how to run Japan’s relay was one of many that ended up as sticking points between Japan and the IOC.

4 thoughts on “Episode 336 – Let the Games Begin, Part 1”

  1. Just started listening to the episode, but I think you goofed the intro/ad, as you went straight to the book recommendation and did not talk about Audible (just the link at the end).

    Just trying to make sure you get your ad revenue in full. 🙂

  2. Great episode (as always)!
    I was just wondering if you have a source where I can read more about the eight-year plan to dominate the world? I can’t find any mentions of it outside the book by Krüger and Murray.

    What I really like to know is how Eight-Year Plan to Dominate the World is written in Japanese. I’m currently in the process of collecting documents with interesting names.
    Sources in Japanese will work too (thanks Google translate!).

    1. Tragically I went looking but couldn’t find much; I’d assume the original is kept in an archive by the JOC or one of its constituent groups, and Japan is notoriously behind the times in terms of online accessible archive searches (even the national archives are still digitizing their collection and have been since I was an undergrad).

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