Running is one of the most basic forms of exercise and is one the most used around the world. The question is what differentiates running from Japan and the rest of the world? The answer to that is scenery, road conditions and running culture. First road conditions are absolutely phenomenal, you’ll find less places on earth that is more organized in terms of road rules as the Japanese. Japan also keeps their roads well-maintained which is ideal for running. The air in Japan is also clean which makes running outdoors a treat. Second is scenery, whether you are running in major cities or the countryside there is always a sight to behold. The countryside of Japan which boasts of beautiful mountains, amazing beaches and lush forests are always a plus when running while cities like Tokyo and Osaka are just a marvel to see. Third is running culture, running or marathon in Japan is all the rage nowadays with events being held all over the country.
There are even traditions in Japanese culture that are fanatical about running. The Heian monks of Japan are considered “marathon monks” and part of their monastic training is running around the mountain which is approximately 50 kilometres, that is not only longer than a regular 42km marathon but is also done in difficult terrain. Now, imagine doing this a hundred or even a thousand days straight. To add to their strain the monks after a hundred days of running undergo a fast, now that is dedication.
The Heian monks are of course an anomaly to normal Japanese running though they do serve as an inspiration to runners. That being said, the competitive marathon runners in Japan are no joke, they are top notch. The discipline in their training and the seriousness which with they take the sport is the reason why Japanese marathon runners are arguably one of the best in the world. It can be seen that in Japanese culture running is taken seriously but despite that there is still a lot of hobbyist runners out there. Night running in Japan has been recently gaining popularity in Japan. There is even a group called the Midnight Runners Tokyo (MRT), who instead of drinking at night opts for a midnight running session instead. This is one of the new running cultures that is being developed in Japan, and it is one of many. In Japan from the Heian monks, the long distance marathon athletes, the midnight runners and the regular enthusiast it is evident that there is a strong culture of running in Japan. This is just one of the many reasons that any running enthusiast will find a home in Japan.
Image by Japan Running News