Constructed on part of the ancient Edo castle grounds to a design based on an eighth-century Japanese temple and inspired by a symbol of Japan, Mount Fuji, the Nippon Budokan Hall was built to host the Olympic competition of judo and demonstrations of other traditional Japanese sports including kendo, kyudo and sumo at the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964.
Managed by the Nippon Budokan Foundation, since the Games the venue has continued to serve as a key location for promoting Japanese budo. It hosts competitions and public demonstrations, as well as workshops for budo, and lessons across a wide range of disciplines including judo, kendo, karatedo, aikido, shorinjikempo and naginata.
More than 300 students from elementary school age to adults regularly practise budo at the Nippon Budokan. The venue will once again be used to stage martial arts competitions (judo and karate) during Tokyo 2020.
Although the venue’s primary purpose has always been to stage budo events, it has also hosted various national and cultural events such as music concerts and occasionally other sporting contests, since the 1960s. The National Memorial Service for War Dead is conducted annually on 15 August at the venue. In 1976, Muhammad Ali fought Japanese pro-wrestling star Antonio Inoki in a mixed martial arts match, while global artists such as ABBA, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Queen, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles have performed there.