Japan - Planning to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Planning to visit Japan during the Olympics is not any different from a normal visit to Japan. You should focus in Tokyo Metropolitan Area, but that doesn't mean you must stay on it. For instance, if you have days without games you want to attend, you can visit nearby cities or even venture further west to Osaka/Kyoto, or North to Matsushima/Hokkaido. 

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will take place between July 24th and August 9th
with the Paralympics following

Aside from the usual planning, you should be prepared for a few different things:

  1. There will be considerably more people in central Tokyo area, specially near the Olympic venues and arena.
    This will take you to the official map for the Olympic Venues, which are reproduced as an image below with the addition of a representation of the Yamanote Line (go to the link for the interactive version)

    Venues Map with Yamanote Line overlay
     
  2. During the Opening and Closing ceremony, you should expect the peak rush on all transportation. Plan ahead - Tokyo public transportation is awesome, but it still packs up on peak times.
  3. Japan is not known to overprice things too much on events, but the Olympics is slightly different, so expect prices to hike the closer you get to Olympic venues. Also, Hotels close to venues will probably be incredibly overpriced.
  4. Be aware that there are a couple of months of increased activities before the games while officials and event planners get things done, Hotel placement and prices might increase during that period. 
  5. There is the Paralympics right after the Olympic games, so don't expect prices and tourism to drop as soon as the Olympics end.

So, here are some tips to drop prices and manage in Tokyo during that time.

Where to stay?

Do not plan to stay close to the Olympic venues (see map above). Check the metro/train lines and plan to stay a little away. You can go as far south as Yokohama and still be 30 minutes from downtown Tokyo, or go north to Saitama. East is also a good call, you can go as far as Tachikawa. Stay prices will likely go down "back to normal" the farther you go. The following map show areas that are close to important metro/train lines you can use to reach downtown Tokyo under 30 minutes (then plan at least an extra hour to reach the venue you wish from there - do not underestimate how packed it will be specially for opening and ending ceremonies)

 

Good places to stay (green) that have easy access to downtown Tokyo
Green areas have easy access to public transportation link to downtown Tokyo. Yellow might be overpriced, Red definitely will

 

What else can I visit?

We already have a tool for places to visit in Tokyo here. You can also plan to visit the rest of the country during the games, since it will most likely be less crowded (late July/early August is the summer peak, but tourists prefer to visit Japan in the Spring or Autumn). You could easily plan to stay a couple of days in Osaka/Kyoto area, for instance.

When should I go?

It depends on what you are planning to attend. You should not arrive the day before the event you are planning to prevent wear-down from jet-lag, allow one day to get used to the timezone and weather. Also, plan ahead and get all your tickets with at least 6 month in advance, as the best stays, or the best price/benefit, go out really fast. Flights should specially be packed near the start and end of the event, so you will probably be able to reduce some costs by arriving earlier than most people (if you are planning on the opening), or leaving after most people (if you are planning on the ending). During the Olympics prices should stay higher than normal, but not as much arrivals just prior and departures just after, since people come and go to see the events they want spread out through the "Olympic month".

There are no official schedule as of yet (june 2018), but Wikipedia put up a mock-up based on 2016 timeline at this link.

How much should I take?

Because of price hike near and inside venues, expect everything to cost at least twice (or only twice, depends on how much you are used. In Rio 2016 prices were up almost tenfold, but Brazilian businesses hikes prices on Airports and venues usually between 5 and 10 times normally, while Japanese businesses usually hike only 2~3 times). Planning and paying ahead your flight, stay and possibly train passes is a good way to save money. Just for a reference, a 300ml can of soda goes for around Y120~Y160 normally.

Use this tool to check for a normal budget, then increase amenities as you see fit.

Tokyo Megacity

This video covers how awesome this impressive city is, made by The Daily Conversation: