World Triathlon Series – Yokohama

On the weekend of the 17th and 18th of May the World Triathalon Series came to Japan with the race held in Yokohama. I made the short journey from Tokyo to Yokohama both days to watch, the Saturday featured the elite races and Sunday was the open where a few people I have met through the running club were competing. I went with Sachi, a Japanese friend that I’ve met through the running club.

Japanese word of the weekend – がんばれ – ganbare! – go for it/do your best!

http://yokohama.triathlon.org

The weather was fantastic, warm and sunny and the course compact with swimming in the sea by the harbour and the bike and run in the adjacent streets. It made great viewing and we found plenty of different viewing points.

On Saturday we watched both the elite women and men with great views of the Brownlee brothers. It wasn’t a great day for the British athletes with Jodie Stimpson, last year’s winner, falling on her bike – run transition and cutting her foot requiring stitches after the race and the Brownlee brothers coming 4th and 5th. It was a good day for Japan with Ai Odea coming 2nd in the women’s, the first time a Japanese woman has been on the podium for this race.

On Sunday we supported Lisa from the running club – see support team pictures!

There are good very short summaries of the elite races on YouTube:
Men’s – http://youtu.be/p6O1KWbOTd4
Women’s – http://youtu.be/yKFCGEZaf5g

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Shinkansen (bullet train)

This week I took the Shinkansen for the first time to Kyoto on a business trip. Everything you read about Japanese trains running to the minute and being incredibly efficient is true in my experience of Japan. The Shinkansen takes this one step further. Travel was luxurious – lots of leg room and a smooth fast trip.

The speed was maybe not quite as fast as I expected although looking at the distance travelled this was just perception -it was very fast! What struck me more was the efficiency in and out of stations – that was truly remarkable. Before each station there was a kind of alarm call, presumably designed to wake anyone who was sleeping followed by announcements. People then jump up get everything organised and are waiting to quickly leave the train when it stops! It’s a very quick turn around and off again to the next station.

It wasn’t cheap but was a great way to cover distance in a comfortable way – looking forward to my next trip!

Yoga at Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi

At my apartment I picked up a leaflet with information regarding free yoga sessions outside for up to 500 people on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  I decided to give it a go a couple of week’s ago on the Sunday!  I knew that the buses near my apartments went to Roppongi but wasn’t sure exactly where I need to be so jumped on thinking I might not get there but knowing that in the days of smart phones you are never really lost!  My faith was rewarded as on the bus journey a girl jumped on with a yoga mat so I was able to follow her to the right location!

It was good – all in Japanese so I had to follow those around so sure I missed a lot but it was special to have yoga outside with blue sky very warm sun and skyscrapers around.  

http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/jp/event/2014/8239.html

Japanese 日本語

One of my long term ambitions was to live abroad so I’m very pleased to have been given the opportunity to fulfil this.  Another linked ambition is to speak another language.

So I am learning Japanese!  I have been studying myself for a few months since I knew I was coming here and have now started some classes.   So far I’ve had 2 classes and they are really good but very challenging.  I speak Japanese for an hour in a 1:1 session despite having very little Japanese!  It is amazing what can be done with pictures and pointing and thinking it through this is how we teach our children with books showing images and talking.

I’m really glad that I learnt kana before coming here so I can read some Japanese although very little kanji (Chinese symbols).

This weekend I have spent hours studying (most of it sitting in the sun!) so I hope that I can say more in this week’s class!  My teacher tells me that when I run I should go through phrases so I also tried that today with some success.

What is very encouraging is that the people here are so positive about the effort that it does encourage me to try and I get many opportunities to practice.

Yokohama

On last week’s Golden Week holiday I visited Yokohama.  Everyone told me that it has a very different feel to Tokyo and that’s certainly true.  It feels more like the US to me with wide streets, plenty of space and fewer people that Tokyo.  It’s built up around the port and that give it a good feel.  There is also a busy China town which had a different feel again, very packed but a great atmosphere. 

I chose a good day to visit with a beer festival taking place!  I treated myself to a Yokohama lager to get a ‘tick’ for food and drink consumed in the place of their name.

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The family of carp streamers are part of children’s day (5th May) celebrations, one of the Golden week holidays. 

 

Takao-san & Shiro-yama Hill Walking Day trip from Tokyo on Showa Day

Tuesday 29th was a holiday in Japan – Showa Day.  A day’s holiday to honour the birthday of Emperor Hirohito.

I went on an adventure leaving Tokyo for the first time since I arrived a few weeks back.  I took the train to Takao-san-guchi, on the fast trains it’s about an hour – I took a slower train so it took a bit longer!  The first hill is Takao-san (559m) and is a popular with people from Tokyo due to its proximity.  There are several routes up, I took route number 6, a really nice walk along the valley and then up through the woods.  The hills here are wooded with really good paths.  After reaching the top of Takao-san I walked along the ridge to the next peak, Shiro-yama (670m) and a little further before cutting steeply down to the valley and on to Sagami-ko where I managed to pick up a train back to Tokyo.  

It was lovely to get out of the city and see the hills although all the time I’ve spent in parks didn’t make me miss the countryside as much as I thought I might!

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