Deep in the bowels of Tokyo, buried below the main stadium where the world will be watching some of the biggest events at the 2020 Olympic Games, the remains of almost 200 human bodies have been found.

Japanese media this week reported that archaeologists had made this macabre discovery during the planning stages of the cutting-edge National Stadium, which is expected to be completed by the end of next month.

The bones of 187 bodies are believed to be the remains of an ancient cemetery housed within the grounds of a Buddhist temple demolished a century ago.

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The old National Stadium was built for the 1964 Olympics on top of the site of that cemetery. This old stadium was bulldozed to make way for the new National Stadium, a huge complex that can accommodate nearly 70,000 spectators and will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2020 Olympics.

Some of the bones found on the site of this stadium could date back as far as the 1700s, Tokyo media were told by Ken-ichi Shindoda, an anthropologist at the city's National Museum of Nature and Science.

The cemetery was believed to have been established in the 1730s. The human remains had been transferred to Tokyo's National Museum of Nature and Science.

He said the grisly find was just the latest incident where human remains had been dug up as part of constructing facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A general view of the New National Stadium under construction for the Tokyo Olympics. Photo / Photosport
A general view of the New National Stadium under construction for the Tokyo Olympics. Photo / Photosport

Inhabited for more than 1000 years, Tokyo is renowned for its deep history. These incidents highlight how some of this history has been buried just beneath its surface as the city has been modernised at a swift pace over the past century.

A sprawling metropolitan area home to more than 30 million people, Tokyo is considered the world's largest city.

It has become so densely populated that land is scarce and extremely valuable.

Even burial plots are now too expensive for some Tokyo residents, who instead pay to have their loved ones cremated and their ashes placed in an urn kept in giant storage facilities.


Aoyama Cemetery, one of the largest graveyards in downtown Tokyo, is one of a string of tourist attractions located around Tokyo's new National Stadium.