Why I’d rather be in Himeji than Tokyo, except Feb 26th –        一年364日東京より姫路に居たいが、2月26日だけは違う

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

世界遺産姫路城
World Heritage Himeji Castle

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

通天閣(東京編)
Not quite so world heritage Tokyo Tower
Definitely I will run Himeji in 2018!

Wish me luck!!

今年の3月末に、家族と一緒に姫路の近くにある都市に引っ越した。

兵庫県の二番目大きな都市として、姫路は約50万人の人口でヨーロッパのコーペンハーゲンにあたる。兵庫はちなみにデンマークと同じくらい500万人の人口。

東京には比べ物のない大都会。国連によると東京圏は3,700万人くらいの人口で、他にそれほど大きい大都市圏が世界にない。比べるなら、カナダの3,500万人やオーストラリアの2,300万人などの100カ国以上の国の人口より大きい。

生活の選択肢もうすでにできた。毎日山手線に乗る「カナダ」ではなく、落ち付いたが充分大きい「デンマーク」を選んだ。

東京より姫路

Faux German Shiratori Castle - Not the best castle in Himeji
白鳥城
でも最近、また東京と姫路の関わるチョイスをしなければならなかった。両市は来年2月26日にフルマラソンを開催する予定。

申込者人数が多く、抽選になるのと知っていて、両方のマラソンに申し込んだ。 どっちか走れるかと信じて、運を試した。

東京マラソンは毎年、当選倍率が厳しくて、2014年に常識よりお金あった時に(笑)チャリティランナーとして10万円出して走ったが、去年と一昨年普通に申し込んだが、落選だったが、今年は当選倍率12.2で3回目の正直、なんと当選だった。当たると思わなかったが、外国人の当たる確率が日本人より高いらし。悪いけど、ごめんね。m(__)m

世界遺産姫路城マラソンは私にとってのローカルレースで、もっと街を見るチャンスだなと思って、申し込んだ。

東京は11年間欠的に住んでいたが、もう暮らしたくない。住むなら西播磨(姫路のエリア)。

世界の6「メジャー」の一つを走るチャンスはもう2度とないかと思って、今回姫路より東京を選ぶ。

姫路より東京

Tokyo from quite high up
高い所(六本木ヒルズ)から撮った東京
絶対に2018年に姫路マラソンを走ると宣言しま〜す。

“Sports” Day?? – 体育の日

Today is a National Holiday in Japan. According to my calendar app, it is translated as Sports Day. I’m not really sure if 体育の日 (Taiiku no hi) really should be translated as Sports Day though. Taiiku is more accurately translated as physical education rather than the more general sports. But oh well, who am I to question the wisdom of Apple. They make far more money than me!

今日は体育の日です。iPhoneのカレンダーアプリによると英語で「Sports Day」だそうです。私にとっては、体育が「sports」より学科の「physical education」に訳する方が正しいか思うのですが、Appleは私よりずっと利益を取れる会社なので、本当は私から疑問できない立場かな!^_^

Anyway, here are some pics from today’s run. 

今日のランで撮った何枚かの写真です。

Shinagawa Kumin Park

While out walking with my family yesterday, we happened upon a great park that we never even knew was there! 

Tokyo and the surrounding area is home to about 37 million people, and so green space is quite hard to come by. 

A couple of hours after our discovery, I eagerly went out to run around it! It’s only a short distance from where we live and has now become my new favourite place to run!!! 

I haven’t yet paced it out properly. But Shinagawa Kumin Park (Shinagawa Kumin Kouen 品川区民公園) has a running / walking course of about 2 kilometres with all kinds of exercise bars, benches and beams all around. Shinagawa refers to the ward that the park is located in. And Kumin doesn’t refer to the spice associated with Indian food (sorry, my poor attempt at humour) but rather means “citizen of the ward”.

It has great playing facilities for the kids, an aquarium, restaurants and even a barbecue area.

Anyway, don’t recommend it to too many people, we should just keep this paradise to ourselves! 🙂
Map

   
 

   
 

Tokyo Imperial Palace Run

Ran around the Imperial Palace for the first time in ages today. Actually, I ended up doing two-and-a-bit circuits for a total of just over 12k. 
I was supposed to meet friends in Jimbocho but had to finish off an important presentation at work for tomorrow. So I ended up running alone for most of it, while my two friends ran together.

  

Believe it or not, people were actually running around the Imperial Palace!!
 
It was a bit tiring to run right after work, but after a while I felt the benefit of doing an early evening run. Especially as I worked up quite a thirst. So when I finally caught up with my friends, we all went for a well deserved  chat over beers!

Night Running: Sakura in Tokyo’s Ota Ward