Running in Japan

Last 2 weeks I was on vacation in Japan. I didn’t really want to spend time on finding places for swimming and biking, so I just ran. During 12 days I had 7 runs: 1 Yasso-800, one 45-min tempo run, two 13-milers and a couple of recovery 6 mile runs.

Due to jet lag and overall recovery I was waking up around 5am and was running on practically empty streets of Tokyo, Kyoto and a small town near Narita airport. Running that early definitely made it easier, because in May it was already quite warm and humid. I’m not sure how people are training during the summer there.

Overall the streets of Tokyo and Kyoto are not very runnable. There are too many big roads with slow traffic lights. And people do stop at the traffic lights. So basically there is one place to run in Tokyo – around the Imperial Palace (~ 3.5 miles uninterrupted loop). I saw many runners there around 5-6am as well as bikers on a road around the same palace.  For a long run I wanted to run across the Tokyo bay on the Rainbow bridge. However I found out it opens at 9am. In a city where sunrise is at 4:30am! Why would they do that – I’m not sure.

Kyoto is not much better. Again,there is one convenient place –  an uninterrupted walk along the river. It is quite long, probably 5+ miles at least.

A small town where we spend the last night, is probably called Inzai. Not sure, because Japanese address system is very complicated. There I tried to do a long run along the canals and lake Teganuma. It was beautiful, running on a small tracks between rice fields and small rivers. However, in many places the tracks just disappeared and were replaced by thick bushes. Not ideal for running. I haven’t met any single other running during almost two hours.

Japan has a lot of mountains, so probably trail running is much more convenient there. But road running is not as convenient as in Massachusetts. At least based on my limited experience.

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