Japan may be a small island nation, but it is a leading powerhouse in sports, as can be seen in its impressive showing at international sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup. This can be attributed to the disciplined nature to the Japanese people as they devote hours of their life daily towards a rigorous training regime. Well, we may not be as serious-minded in the pursuit of sports as these top-class athletes, but why not participate in these four sporting activities during your travels to Japan? This will be an authentic way to check out the sporting scene and who knows? You might just make a new Japanese friend or two!
Climbing Mount Fuji
The majestic Mount Fuji needs no introduction, and truckloads of locals and foreigners alike venture to climb up this iconic mountain during the climbing season from July to September. With Mount Fuji recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, interest in scaling up its peak has been mounting, so a little planning in advance will do well to make your trip s successful one! There are a total of four hiking routes, so there is bound to be a course that suits everyone from amateurs to serious climbing enthusiasts. Even Japanese children have been known to climb Mount Fuji, so it’s definitely an achievable feat! If you are pressed for time due to a hectic itinerary, you can even take a direct bus from Shinjuku up to the Fifth Station at Mount Fuji and embark on the Lake Kawaguchi-Yoshida-guchi course. Once you reach there, you can climb throughout the night, take a rest at a mountain hut if need be and catch the sunrise the next day. Fuss-free, isn’t it? Then you will be able to join the legions of climbers who have the bragging rights to ponder over the truth of the old proverb “A wise man climbs Mount Fuji once; only a fool climbs it twice.”
-English Name: Mount Fuji
-Japanese Name: 富士山
-Address: Narusawa-mura, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi (Fifth Station)
-Open Hours / Closed Day: July to September
-Budget: Up to individual
-Lat/Long: (35.360556, 138.727778)
-Phone number: 0555-72-1266 (Fuji Gogome Tourist Association; closed from January to late March due to snow)
Cycling Close to Nature
Surrounded by heaven-kissing mountains and shimmering aquamarine seas, Japan’s picturesque natural scenery will take your breath away and soothe your spirits. What better way to soak up such beauty than to cycle around Japan? For instance, you may take part in Cycling Shimanami that will take place on October 30, 2016. Enabling you to cycle along the Nishiseto expressway, this competition will treat you to gorgeous views of the Seto Island Sea as you cycle from Ehime all the way to Hiroshima. This trail will also allow you to view up close one of Japan’s structural marvel, namely the Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge which is incidentally the world’s longest suspension bridge. Or how about celebrating Earth Day in style by joining the Tokyo Earth Day Bike Race? This race is strategically held during the blooming of cherry blossoms in Tokyo so that you can admire their extraordinary beauty at places like Ueno Park and Tokyo Skytree.
-English Name: Cycling Shimanami
-Japanese Name: サイクリングしまなみ
-Address: Imabari (Ehime Prefecture) ～Onomichi (Hiroshima Prefecture)
-Open Hours / Closed Day: October 30
-Budget: Roundtrip for Imabari～Onomichi (13,000 yen)
One-way trip for Imabari～Onomichi (11,000 yen)
-Lat/Long: (34.066098, 132.99786) (Imabari, Ehime Prefecture)
-Phone number: ：+81-6-6267-5164 (Cycling Shimanami Entry Center)
Running a marathon in Japan is a great way to experience the friendliness of her people. Unlike in other countries, runners in Japan will often be cheered on by the locals who show up in full force to line the streets and shout “Gambatte” at the top of their lungs. Some of them may even perform dances like yosakoi to bolster weary spirits and bestow energy on the runners! In order to enjoy such warm treatment, why not sign up for popular marathons like Tokyo Marathon and Kyoto Marathon? What’s more, these marathons let you pass through various iconic tourist landmarks, so you can do some sightseeing while running at the same time. Isn’t this killing two birds with one stone? On the other hand, travellers who are not so confident of their fitness level can join fun themed runs like One Piece Run and Minions Run. People who join these races often come dressed up as their favorite characters and seem more engrossed in snapping photos than in clocking a good timing, so this will be right up the alley for casual runners!
-English Name: Tokyo Marathon
-Japanese Name: 東京マラソン
-Address: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Starting Point)
-Open Hours / Closed Day: February 26, 2017
-Budget: Marathon: Domestic – 10,800 Yen (from overseas-12,800 Yen)
-Lat/Long: (35.689246, 139.691855)
-Phone number: NA
As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Joining these sporting events is an awesome way to immerse yourself in the company of Japanese people. Coupled with savoring epic views that will stay etched in your mind and just soaking up the atmosphere, sporting endeavors are integral to a perfect getaway!