Marathons are an extremely popular activity in Japan that anyone, from beginners to experts, can participate in. They are actually an enjoyable method of sightseeing, as you can take in the townscape while running or sample local specialties at rest areas. With that, here are 5 particularly popular marathons in Japan!
1. Kobe Marathon (November)
Take in the extraordinary atmosphere of the port city of Kobe while enjoying a pleasant run by the coast with the Kobe Marathon! As there are many runners invited from overseas, you might be able to see some world-class athletes’ skills at the turning point. One of the highlights of this competition is the ceaseless cheering from the audience in the sidelines, which many past participants have expressed their appreciation for.
A surprisingly popular treat given away at the marathon's aid stations to boost runners' energy levels is chikuwa (tube-shaped fish paste delicacy). People say that its slight saltiness and clear fish flavor are addicting! Make sure to try it if you can find it.
2019 Date (Expected): November 17, 2019 (Sun)
2. Kanazawa Marathon (October)
This marathon is praised for its passionate sideline audience, aid stations that give out foods representing Kanazawa, and smooth operations. In particular, people adore the various foods given at its Tabemasshi Stations!
Participants will get to taste Kanazawa specialties, including seafood pastes made with ingredients from Hokuriku; delicate wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) from Kanazawa, which once flourished as a castletown; delicious ramen made with flavorful broth; and even Kanazawa curry!
Moreover, you will reach the highest elevation point in the early half of the race, which is when you have energy to spare, making it easy to set records. This is a marathon that’s suitable for both those looking to have fun and others that are focused on setting records.
2019 Date: October 27, 2019 (Sun)
3. Osaka Marathon (October)
At the Osaka Marathon, you will get to run down a rather flat course going through the center of Osaka City. With plentiful food being given away and heartwarming cheers typical of Osaka, it feels more like a festival than an actual competition.
Maido Aid, an aid station run by a local shopping street, is an extremely popular attraction at this marathon. They offer a wide variety of foods, including croquettes, takoyaki, wagashi, fruits, and even “Ame-chan”, a sweet made famous because of how Osaka people would offer them up to those around them.
Many past participants told of how they were able to finish the race when things got hard because of the bright attitudes of the Osakan people running Maido Aid, as well as the large quantity of foods they received.
2018 Date: November 25, 2018 (Sun)
*The 2019 date is expected to be announced in February 2019.
4. Tokyo Marathon (March)
The Tokyo Marathon is popular for its somewhat flat running course that will take you on an exhilarating journey through metropolitan spots like Ginza, Asakusa, and the Tokyo Tower. It is one of the World Marathon Majors, together with races in places like Boston, London, and Berlin. Despite its prestigious status, it only takes 7 hours to complete, so even beginners can easily participate in it. Getting to run in this marathon can be a dream come true for some runners, since normal folks get to run on the same course as top-class athletes!
Furthermore, since this is such a large-scale marathon, you will hear plenty of cheers from the audience and staff. You will also be able to receive various samples from the sponsors at the expo that takes before and during the actual race.
2019 Date: March 3, 2019 (Sun)
5. Kagoshima Marathon (March)
This marathon offers breathtaking coastal sights, such as the view of Sakurajima, an enormous volcano that lies beyond Kagoshima Bay. Try some of the shochu (distilled liquor) being distributed for free at the festivities on the eve of the marathon, or head to the aid stations during the competition to try a variety of foods, which range from standard items to Kagoshima specialties like fruits and sweets. The passionate cries of “Kibare!” (“You can do it!” in the Kagoshima dialect) by the enthusiastic locals will push you forwards until you reach the finish line.
2019 Date: March 3, 2019 (Sun)
By participating in marathons, you’ll get to enjoy the delicious foods, gorgeous cityscapes, and friendly attitudes of the people at various cities. Use this article as a reference and try participating in one of these unique races!
*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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