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From Olympia, where it is lit, the flame is taken by car to Athens, from where it is flown to Japan.
On 30 December 1971, the torch arrived at Okinawa Island, where a 60-km relay took place around the island the following day.
On 1 January 1972, the flame reached Tokyo. A ceremony was held at the National Stadium.
On Japanese soil, the flame was taken first to Nirasaki. There, it was split in two and followed two routes up the island of Honshu, one on the east coast the other on the west coast, meeting at Aomori in the north of the island. Once on the island of Hokkaido after crossing the Tsugaru Strait, the flame split in three, passing through the cities of Hakodate, Kushiro and Wakkanai before reaching Sapporo.
On 29 January, the three flames reached Sapporo.
On 30 January, the three flames were reunited at a ceremony attended by IOC President Avery Brundage. The flame was then taken to the City Hall square.
On 3 February, the flame was taken to the Opening Ceremony. Skater Izumi Tsujimura passed it to Hideki Takada, who lit the cauldron.