TOKYO -- Steve Kerr remembers the rigid protocol for COVID-19 lockdowns the last time he was in Tokyo, as a member of Gregg Popovich's Team USA basketball coaching staff at the 2021 Olympic Games.
Hotel. Bus. Arena. Bus. Hotel.
Day in and day out, movement was restricted.
“I think we were at our hotel for 19 days, and we literally weren't allowed to leave. I may or may not have snuck out a couple times for a walk," Kerr said with a grin.
Now in 2022 for the Warriors' two preseason games against the Washington Wizards, the sidewalks are alive again with locals. Restaurants bustle with guests. Full-scale tourism reopens for vaccinated visitors in Japan on Oct. 11, but the Warriors are getting an early look at one of the world's most welcoming cities.
When the Warriors touched down in Tokyo on Wednesday for their upcoming games at Saitama Super Arena, they've had the freedom to explore.
Klay Thompson took a walk to Fujimiyama Hill in the Hamarikyu Gardens.
Jordan Poole enjoyed some ramen and browsed the aisles at a convenience store.
"The hospitality here is amazing," Kerr said. "Last year was the ultimate irony. You had the Olympics, and here's this country that's probably No. 1 in the world for hospitality and hoping to host the entire world, and everything shut down. It was very sad.
"I'm happy to be back here at a time where the country has opened back up. We get to experience Japanese culture, much more fluidly and frequently."