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.
35KM — 42.195KM
Access: Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station, Subway Tozai Line, or Karasuma Oike Station, Subway Tozai Line or Karasuma Subway Line
There is a turning point just after 35 kilometres right outside the City Hall (京都市役所). Along with the Imperial Palace just a little further north, this is one of the best places to support towards the end of the race. Being here leaves enough time to jump on the Tozai (literally East-West) Line and be at the finish line ready for the last part of the race. You might not feel too inspired by the 1920s architecture in a city of true beauties. But if you happen to be from one of Kyoto’s many sister cities – Boston, Paris, Cologne, Kiev, Florence, Xian, Prague, Guadalajara, Jinju or Zagreb, you might want to go and take a picture of the plaques on the east side of the building.
Access: Higashiyama Station, Subway Tozai Line
After the runners turn around, they head out north and east towards another famous Kyoto temple (and my personal favourite because of its gardens). If you want to be at the finish line in time, you won’t be able go and support them in this area. But it would be remiss of me not to mention Ginkakuji (銀閣寺). No visit to Kyoto would be complete without taking in the sights of this wonderful temple. Its name is very similar to Kinkakuji which we passed in the 10-15km sector of the race. While Kinkakuji means Golden Pavilion Temple, Ginkakuji means Silver Pavilion Temple. The more ostentatious and certainly more photographed Kinkakuji is coated in gold, whereas the pavilion at Ginkakuji has never been covered in silver. It is said to take its name from the silver reflection of the light of the moon. This is definitely near the top of the list of places to visit on a different day of your trip along with a walk down the Philosopher’s Path (哲学の道) down to Nanzenji (南禅寺) and then beyond to Kiyomizudera (清水寺), the temple that stands on wooden stilts.
The runners themselves run up towards Ginkakuji and then turn back, completely avoiding the Philosopher’s Path and Nanzenji. Instead, they head back west and then south past Kyoto University (京都大学), Japan’s second most prestigious university at around 41 kilometres. Kyoto University is the workplace of Nobel Prize winner, Yamanaka Shinya. He and fellow stem cell researcher, John Gurdon from the UK were awarded in 2012. Yamanaka himself will apparently be running the race in 2015.
Kyoto University really will be the sign for runners that the end is nigh. They will squeeze the last ounces of energy out of their legs and fresh positive thoughts of “I can do it” will enter their minds again as they head towards the crowds waiting to greet them in the environs of Heian-jingu (平安神宮).
Now past the finish line, they will feel the relief and pride of having made it to the end of the Kyoto Marathon and will be thanking you for all the support you gave along the way!!!
My Recommendation to Supporters: Seven more kilometres… Six… Five… Four… Three… Two… One… At last, the runner is thinking, this race is coming to an end. These last few kilometres are the longest in the race. The runner is wondering whether they will make it over the line without collapsing, or whether their leg muscles will hold out, or how big is that blister that is really stinging my left foot… For some runners, these last kilometres will feel endless and their pace may slow to not much faster than walking. Many will even succumb to walking. Support at this stage of the race really does serve to push the runners over the line. Most supporters would really like to be at the finish line to congratulate their hero. This makes it difficult to look at places along the route in the last seven kilometres and then also be there at the finish straight. For this reason, I recommend saving the sights around this area for another day and focusing your efforts on cheering outside Heian-jingu. If you are around City Hall for the 35k turning point, you can jump on the train for a few stops to Higashiyama and then wait by the finish line. In the very least you can either take a quick look with all the other crowds at the beautiful red shrine while you wait. Alternatively, you could suggest taking a look with your runner friend right after the race if they feel up to it…
Thank you for reading through these entries about Kyoto Marathon The city really is full of wondrous temples and shrines, large and small – many in places where you’d least expect them. If you’re not visiting for the marathon in February 2015, I hope that you will come to one of the most beautiful cities in the world either as a tourist or a runner (or both) in the near future.