(sidebar–yesterday at the pool, I caught up with a friend of mine. She mentioned seeing all the vacation pictures in her FB feed reminded her of how our parents were often held hostage by their friends’ vacation slide shows. So true)
This vacation was probably one of our more successful trips. Mostly because we did not over-schedule ourselves. There was tons we wanted to see (especially in Kyoto), but the heat and humidity made us feel not so guilty about skipping certain temples for the Manga Museum or aquarium (in Miyajima) or sometimes just hanging out at the coffee shop.
Another reason for its success was that I got to run a fair amount. Traveling can be stressful. Traveling in a foreign country where you’re the object of constant stares and finger-pointing is even more so. Having lived there, I knew this going in. Not that running in the early morning in brightly colored clothing is any means of camouflage, but it just put me a in a better state of mind for our afternoon and evening sojourns.
My jaunt around Japan included 3 runs (2 5ks and one 11k) in the Mister’s hometown in Nagasaki prefecture. I even got in some hill repeats:
This was sorta awesome. It’s quite steep, but not so long. So I would run up (the right side), turn the corner, and then walk down the left. I did this 3 times. Of course, I was seen by a relative doing this. He later mentioned that he thought I was lost.
In Kumamoto, which was the town I lived in after college, I ran the Shirakawa (one of the rivers that runs through the town). Japan’s lost decade (which I think is stretching into 2 decades, despite Abe-nomics) has been a boon for public works projects, and since my tenure in this town, a running/walking path has been created along both sides of the river. I also ran by the castle (Kumamoto-jo). I couldn’t go in, as it was too early, but I still took a selfie outside the walls. I am always jealous of basically every other country in the world, except Australia I guess, for their castles.
That run was about a 10k.
No running in Hiroshima, but in Kyoto, the Mister and I got in 2 runs! We figured out that our ryokan (Japanese style inn) was about 4k from the old Imperial palace, so off we went!
These grounds were open (it’s a huge complex of temples, gardens and the old palace), so we ran inside as well. It’s hard to run on pea gravel. Almost like running on sand. The neat part of these runs was also running along Kyoto’s big boulevards. It’s such an interesting city.
My last run in Japan was recommended by my coach–Tokyo’s Imperial Palace. Again, the palace was not open early in the morning, but it’s a 5km course around the outside of the grounds, so that was good enough. It was a huge effort to get there, though, about 40 minutes by subway with a transfer and all.
A few interesting things about this run–1–the sign that tells runners that they don’t “own the road” and that they have to watch out for walkers. I liked this sign for a few reasons: 1. it actually says “runners” instead of “joggers” which was the term of choice 20 years ago. 2. It’s signed (?)/endorsed by just about every policing agency that exists (all that tiny script at the bottom)–coming from New Jersey, it’s a pleasure to see government agencies (on the state/municipal level) actually working together, and 3. I couldn’t help but think that if they cleaned up the moat, the Imperial Palace would be an awesome venue for a sprint tri. A perfect 5k around the grounds. I’m sure the moat would make a good swim (once clean), and 3-4 times around the grounds on a bike would be a challenging ride (there’s a fairly steep hill on one side). Maybe I’ll write the Imperial Palace Agency and suggest this.
All these runs kept me in a completely zen mood throughout our trip, and also pushed my August monthly mileage to the 100M range! In fact, yesterday (8/31), I ran 3 miles, just to put myself at the century mark!