The beautiful, historic city of Kyoto will host a marathon on February 15th.
This series of posts will focus on the temples, shrines and other attractions dotted along the course. If you are visiting at the time of the marathon to support a friend or loved one, I hope that you will have a chance to visit some of these places! Do spare some time before or after the day of the race to visit some of the other wonderful places there are to see.
10KM — 15KM
The course reaches its highest point in this part of Kyoto. Many runners really appreciate support when the lungs are screaming and the legs are stinging. Not only is this a great place for cheering, but there are also a number of wonderful and very diverse temples all within walking distance of one another.
At around the 11km mark on the left-hand / north side of the road, the runners will first pass Ninna-ji (仁和寺). Ninna-ji is known for its five-storey pagoda. It is another World Heritage site – there are seventeen in total in the city – and dates back to 888.
About a kilometre further up the road, we pass Ryoan-ji (龍安寺). This temple is home to the best-known rock garden in Japan. You can spend ages musing at what it all means. Nobody knows, but that’s part of the fun!
The race passes Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), the famous Golden Pavilion seen in every Japan guide book, just before it reaches the 15K point. Yet another reason to make it up to this part of Kyoto if you are there to support a runner.
My Recommendation to Supporters: With a number of famous temples along a five-kilometre stretch, this is a good place to offer your support. However, buses are the best way to reach this part of the city and are affected by the race. Might be worth visiting these temples on a different day.
15KM — 20KM
This stretch is the furthest north in the city that the race goes. The main sites it passes are Daitoku-ji (大徳寺), Imamiya-jinja (今宮神社) and Kamigamo-jinja (上賀茂神社).
Daitoku-ji has around twenty Zen sub-temples and a number of Zen gardens. The temple dates back to the fourteenth century.
Next up is Imamiya-jinga. Built in 1001 to protect against an epidemic in the Murasakino area, this is a very beautiful and ornate shrine.
Kamigamo-jinja is one of the oldest shrines in all Japan. It was built in 678. Along with its sister shrine, Shimogamo-jinja, it is said to protect Kyoto from evil influences.
My Recommendation to Supporters: Some very nice shrines and temples in this northern district of Kyoto. Like the area around Kinkaku-ji, this area is well served by buses, but these will be affected by the race.
After a diversion out to the east, Part 3 (20 to 30 kilometres) will cover the part of the course where the race turns back south towards the city centre. Runners and supporters are greeted by the botanical gardens, the concert hall, a nice stretch along the river and Kamigamo’s sister.