Earlier this year, I moved with my family from Tokyo to a city just outside Himeji.
A city of 500,000 people, Himeji has a population similar to Copenhagen. It is the second largest city in Hyogo Prefecture, which has a population of about 5 million people. This happens to be about the same size as Denmark’s population. Himejians eat lots of almond butter but not so much Lurpak butter though.
Tokyo is in a league of its own. Many people will remember the infographics that were doing the rounds on Buzzfeed a couple of years ago. If not, take a look at the link. It’s awe-inspiring. According to the UN, the population of the Greater Tokyo/Yokohama conurbation is more than 37 million people. That’s bigger than the population of over 100 countries on this planet, including the likes of Canada and Australia. Now try imagine getting on a train with all those people…
I already made my choice on where to live. It’s a no-brainer really: serene yet efficient Denmark, or the whole of Toronto packed every morning onto the Yamanote Line. Just thinking about sweaty summers and autumn typhoons was enough to make me feel faint. I chose Copenhagen – or a place on its outskirts really:
TOKYO < HIMEJI
But recently, I was faced with a new choice between Himeji and Tokyo.
These two cities host a full marathon on the same day in 2017: February 26th.
I applied for both races because they are oversubscribed and hold a lottery to decide who can run. I wanted to run one of them and decided to let fate decide which.
Tokyo Marathon had a subscription rate approximately twelve times the 35,000+ that can actually run the race. Even a vast city such as Tokyo has to limit the number of runners that can navigate the narrow streets at the start. When I last ran the race in 2014, I was in C block (the third section from the front) but it still took me ten minutes from the gun to get over the start line. That year, I foolishly paid a whopping 100,000 yen (I had more money than sense then) to enter as a charity runner, though I have to say it was worth the experience, and the money went to support the rebuilding efforts in Tohoku (northern Japan) after the 2011 earthquake.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to get accepted although they do say that gaikokujin have a higher chance than native Japanese. Since 2014, I entered as a regular runner and failed to get in twice. So this was third time lucky!
Himeji Marathon is my local race and has a beautiful castle. It would be a great opportunity to get to know the city a little better.
Having lived in Tokyo on and off for 11 years, I’ve had my fill of living there. I would definitely choose Himeji any day to live!
But I don’t know when the opportunity to run one of the six Majors will present itself again. So this time around, I’m going to run Tokyo:
TOKYO > HIMEJI
Definitely I will run Himeji in 2018!
Wish me luck!!