Five Select Participatory Sporting Events Popular Among Tourists
Did you know that in Japan, you can enjoy not just gourmet and shopping, but also sports? Here are five sporting events in Japan that accept registration from overseas. They are held in locations such as Mt. Fuji and Hokkaido, where you can immerse yourself in Japan's nature.
1. Mt. Fuji Hill Climb (Yamanashi)
Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and is famous as a World Heritage site. In this race, one of Japan's largest hill climb races, more than 8,000 cyclists climb Mt. Fuji every year. The goal is at the fifth station, but the time limit, at 3 hours 15 minutes, is relatively relaxed, so 99% of the participants finish. The average time to complete the climb is 1 hour 49 minutes, and the oldest person to complete it was 74 years old! This is a race first timers can participate in. It is held in June and registration for general entry starts around March.
2. Chitose JAL International Marathon (Hokkaido)
Chitose in Hokkaido is a nature-rich city with virgin forests, the Chitose River, and Lake Shikotsu in a national park, and is the stage for this marathon. The marathon starts in a woodland path, so you can fully immerse yourself in a forest while running a marathon. The time limit for a full marathon is six hours, so runners who want to take their time and enjoy the marathon can participate. When you've finished, you'll be treated with local sweets. There are shuttle buses from JR Chitose Station to the site, so no need to worry about transportation. It is held in June every year, and registration for general entry begins around February.
3. Saitama International Marathon (Saitama)
This marathon doubles as a qualifier for events such as the Olympics. It is a huge event with 570,000 people lining the streets to cheer on the runners in five divisions, including the division for those running to represent Japan. There is a wide variety of participants, from those aiming to qualify for world championships, to those running in costumes, and children and guardians running together as a family fun run. In 2016, the time limit was extended from four hours to six hours, so a wider range of runners can participate. The marathon is held in Saitama, which can be easily accessed from Tokyo. Why not participate if you are in the Kanto area? The last two marathons were held in November, with general registration starting around May.
4. Japan Three-day March (Saitama)
This march held in the Hiki Hills of Saitama is one of the world's largest marches, second only to the one in Nijmegen, Netherlands. It is a long-running march that began in 1978, run solely by volunteers. The more than 80,000 participants, many of whom are tourists from abroad, walk one of six courses ranging from 5km to 50km over a period of one to three days. When they are finished, brass bands and drum and fife bands of local students celebrate their achievements in the local shopping district. In addition, the central hall has tent booths with goods related to walking, as well as a variety of products by walking clubs and chambers of commerce around the country, so it's perfect for those who want to experience a local Japanese event! It is held in November every year, and general registration begins around July.
5. Cycling Shimanami (Hiroshima, Ehime)
The holy site of cycling, Shimanami Kaido, is a road that spans six islands from Imabari in Ehime to Onomichi in Hiroshima and has been touted as one of the world's seven most incredible bike routes by CNN in the US, and given a star by the French Michelin guide. Cycling Shimanami is an event held there with 3,500 participants from Japan and abroad. There are five courses geared to various levels, from a short course appropriate for beginners to a course that goes around the islands. Highways are closed off for this event, giving the participants the opportunity to experience the liberating feeling of riding on a highway. Each of the five courses includes rides on highways. If you plan to be in the Shikoku region, be sure to check the details on their official website.
All of these events have had participants from abroad. If there is one that spikes your interest, take the challenge!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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