Can’t get enough of Japan? Then you ought to set your eyes on this place: Majestic Kyoto! Once serving as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence until 1868, Kyoto has weathered many vicissitudes. On Sunday, 15 February 2015, the Kyoto Marathon 2015 will take runners on a fascinating journey that memorialises this city’s rich historical value and urban charm by. Here at RunSociety, we give you the rundown of what to expect!
City of Road Races
Kyoto is the birthplace of the ekiden long-distance relay race. ‘Ekiden’ is a Japanese term that hearkens back to Japan’s ancient Tōkaidō communication and transportation system in which stations were posted at intervals along the road.
At Kyoto Marathon 2015, three running categories will be held: 42.195km marathon, pair-ekiden race split into two stages of approximately 27km and 15km each, and a 6.1km wheelchair race. Contestants will flag off at the Nishikyogoku Athletic Park, a multi-purpose stadium known for the All-Japan High School Ekiden Championship and the Empress’s Cup, or Inter-Prefectural Women’s Ekiden.
City of International Culture and Tourism
Wind through seven UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. Tenryu-ji Temple, Ninna-ji Temple, Ryoan-ji Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kamigamo-jinja Shrine, Shimogamo-jinja Shrine, and Ginkaku-ji Temple…what a mouthful! But the list of visual treats goes on! Several more tourist attractions line this JAAF-certified race route—from numerous charming traditional shrines and temples, to amazing architectural masterpieces like Kyoto Concert Hall.
The new marathon course now follows two of Kyoto’s hustling downtown streets—Marutamachi-dori Street and Kawaramachi-dori Street. Urban landmarks, like the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto City Hall Square, will greet runners along the way, before they finally finish in front of Heian-jingu Shrine, built on the momentous 1100th anniversary of the capital’s foundation in Kyoto.
Pre or post-race, head downtown to explore Kyoto’s finest food market, Nishiki Market, as well as the massive basement food floor at nearby Daimaru Department Store. Do also look for Ippodo, an atmospheric tea house selling loose leaf and matcha, or powered tea—it’s the best place to get authentic green tea souvenirs in Kyoto!
City of Beautiful Scenery and Green Initiatives
The beginning of spring is one of the best times to run along the Katsura and Kamo-gawa Rivers. Throughout the race, runners will relish Kyoto’s remarkable scenery, including five mountains where huge bonfires are lit during the Gozan no Okuribi summer festival.
“DO YOU KYOTO?” That phrase means, “Are you doing anything good for the environment?” In keeping with one of the race’s main concepts, “DO YOU KYOTO? Marathon – An Event in an Environmentally Advanced City”, this year’s new course will include the Kyoto Botanical Gardens.
Located on the east bank of the Kamo-gawa River, its extensive groves of cherry trees are known for their exquisite blossoms which last a little longer than usual. This symbolic venue of culture and eco-friendliness will also be the relay point for 100 pairs of ekiden runners, so anticipate ecstatic crowds gathered here cheering for morale support!
Did you know? The 16th of every month is designated as “DO YOU KYOTO? Day”. On this day, several businesses and groups do their bit for Mother Nature with eco-friendly initiatives like Kyoto Light Dinner, where restaurant diners can enjoy dinner by candlelight or oil-lamp light. And that’s just one of the many innovative ways to experience this green city!
Kyoto. Japan in a nutshell. The cultural and historical heart of the country.