Reconstruction and robots: can Tokyo 2020 live up to 1964's Olympic legacy?

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There is a simple riposte to anyone who doubts an Olympics can truly transform a city: Tokyo. When Japan's capital first won the right to host the Games, in 1959, it suffered from a desperate shortage of housing and functional infrastructure – and the lack of flush toilets meant most waste had to be vacuumed daily out of cesspits underneath buildings by "honey wagon" trucks. But within five years Japan's capital had undergone such a metamorphosis that visitors to the 1964 Olympics responded with stunned awe. "Out of the jungle of concrete mixers, mud and timber that has been Tokyo for years, the city has emerged, as from a chrysalis, to stand glitteringly ready for the Olympics," the Times' correspondent swooned, citing a long list of buildings and accomplishments "all blurring into a neon haze … that will convince the new arrival he has come upon a mirage." As Japan's capital enters a year in the spotlight, from the Rugby World up to the 2020 Olympics, Guardian Cities is spending a week reporting live from the largest megacity on Earth.