When the capital hosted the Olympic Games over half a century ago, it was heralded as a symbol of Japan’s postwar recovery. This time around, Tokyo appears keen on trading brick and mortar for hearts and minds.

One-hundred kilometers of highways were freshly laid during the massive infrastructure drive that coincided with the 1964 games. Haneda Airport was modernized, and luxurious hotels sprouted in a city once ravaged by American firebombings. A new sewage system gushed into action, and the world’s first bullet train roared between Tokyo and Osaka at record-breaking speed to the awe of visitors.

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