TOKYO 2020 (not Akira) Pictograms4 min read

The Pictograms for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been officially released, and they are some of the most dynamic and interesting pictograms of recent times.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Pictograms

Its a nice full circle as the Pictograms to represent different sports were most broadly used first at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

It is generally agreed that Olympic Games pictograms were really first introduced in 1964, in Tokyo. But Osterwalder explains: “Creating symbols which are not letters but graphic illustrations that everyone can understand goes back much further than that. I’ve found small pictograms that were at the Games in Stockholm in 1912, Paris in 1924, and other Games after that; but they did not yet offer that very simple and clear view that we know today. They were complicated illustrations, but not verbal elements, describing sports, art competitions or other things. For example, for the art competitions in Paris in 1924, there was a symbol, an illustration, which may be considered a pictogram.”

Pictograms used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics Games
Pictograms in use at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics Games
Pictograms for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games

Created by Japanese designer Masaaki Hiromura, the pictograms embody the uniqueness and athleticism of each sport, and highlight the dynamism of athletes.

They were designed in line with Tokyo 2020’s theme, “Innovation from Harmony”, while drawing inspiration from the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964, when pictograms were first introduced at the Olympics.


Its cool to see more sports being added to the Olympics that will broaden the events appeal. I know I was stoked when snowboarding was added to the Winter Olympics, and though I haven’t snowboarded in years, I still watch every snowboarding event I can manage (as well as the curling).

The pictograms for Surfing and Skateboarding, two other board sports, are being added to the Olympic Games this year, and it is so rad to see their pictograms amongst some of the most dynamic and exciting in the line up.

Im excited for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. It will open up Tokyo and broader Japan to a whole host of tourists from all over the world. When I was living in Japan a couple of years ago, you could already see the changes happening for the Olympics. Stations were getting upgraded, signage was getting English additions, airports and tourist centres were becoming even more tourist friendly. Its going to be great to be able to share my love of Japan with so many more people.

You can see more work from Hiromura at the website