Running in Japan

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.

image008

Japanese runner

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

Minakami, Outdoor Sports Paradise

If you’re planning to visit Japan soon and you’re looking for a more exciting and thrilling adventure than a city tour, Minakami is the place to go for you. Minakami is a resort town in the mountainous region of Japan which is relatively near Tokyo. This is considered an outdoor paradise because majority of the popular Japanese outdoor activities can be done within this area. Going to Minakami any time of the year is worth it since they offer exciting outdoor activities in any weather. At the beginning of the April, after the snow melts, it is an ideal time to try any of the water sports in the area. The town offers whitewater rafting, canyoning and kayaking to name a few water sports. Whitewater rafting is not for the faint hearted, it involves manoeuvring through the river under rough water conditions. This activity may seem extremely difficult but there are beginner courses available with English speaking instructors. Canyoning on the other hand is fusion of swimming and hiking, it involves traversing down the river with only your body. This is one of Minakami’s most popular summer attractions. Kayaking is ofcourse available for those who prefer a more laid back boat ride along the river.

image009

Hot Spring in Minakami

During summer water sports aren’t the only thrills available, Minakami also offers bungee jumping. Near the town center at Suwakyo Bridge, a 42 meter fall is available for all adrenaline junkies out there. Hiking is also one of the main outdoor activities which involves a breath taking trail through Mount Tanigawa. The mountain is a clean green during spring while in autumn it showcases a myriad of colors ranging from red, orange and yellow. Mountain biking is also popular as there a couple of good trails available for the cycling enthusiasts. Come winter time there are snowboarding and skiing resorts available for those who wish to try the white powdery snow of Japan. Minakami is clearly a centre for all outdoor activities year round and it pays to be within the area. It is just important to note which activities are available since they differ year round depending on the season. If you though that Minakami couldn’t get any better for an outdoor enthusiast then you might have not known that this town is also known for one of the Japanese favourite activities. Soaking in the hot springs of Minakami is a popular attraction within the region, it is one of top four hot springs available in the Gunma region of Japan.

Image by Japan Guide