Tokyo 1964 – Emblem

Designer: Yusaku Kamekura


In March 1960 Masaru Katsumi was commissioned as project manager to initiate the design project “Tokyo 1964” together with Yusaku Kamekura, Hara Hiromu and other designers. They first created the basic concept and defined the essential parameters in order to make the designs internationally understandable and at the same time to represent the character of Japanese culture. For the next step, the design of an emblem, a competition was organised, to which only a handfull of Japanese designers were invited, including Nagai Kazumasa, Inagaki Koichiro, Yusaku Kamekura, Tanaka Ikko, Kono Takashi and Sugiura Kohei. Finally, in June 1960 Yusaku Kamekura’s proposal unanimously won the competition. His simple, minimalist design with only the most nec- essary elements became a globally recognised and successful emblem: the basic form here is the red circle as a symbol of the rising sun and of Japan, plus the Olympic rings, the name of the host city and the year. However, the emblem only came into being with some luck: according to Kamekura, he himself had forgotten the submission date of the competition until he received a phone call on the day of the deadline asking him to join in. No problem for Kamekura, who had spontaneously worked out a proposal within two hours. Most viewers recognise the Japanese flag in the foreground, but for Kamekura it shows the sun as a strong and internationally understood symbol. In addition, a number of different emblems have been created to serve all purposes. The main colours of these Games were the national colours of Japan, red and white, plus gold as a symbol of the festivities.