The Olympic torch for the Beijing games was lit and passed to the first runner in an 18.7-kilometre relay in the central Japanese city of Nagano on Saturday morning without any cheers or applause from Japanese residents, dpa reported.
A few hundred Chinese residents filled the streets across from the venue, a vacant lot next to a construction site, and waved red national flags and cheered " China."
In the strong wind, the flame was blown out, but the torch was successfully lit on the second try.
The flame was brought from Australia's capital, Sydney, and 80 runners were to carry it through Nagano, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics.
So far, no violent protest has been seen in Japan. Protesters of China's human rights record have interrupted relays in other cities.