Kawagoe Half Marathon

Lovely day out at the Kawagoe Half Marathon with some great girls from Namban Rengo.

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Some good results all round with a 2nd and 4th place and 2 PBs between the 6 of us. I smashed my PB with a time of 1:41:08! This even beats my old Bristol Student Half times (before records began!).  It just felt like my day despite getting back late on Saturday night form beijing and a very early start.  I was 12th in my category and 884th overall with around 8000 runners.

Kawagoe is a lovely place, not far out of Tokyo, with a great old street which we walked down as part of the run and them walked up later once we had finished.

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Travel and Impressions of Japan from time away

I haven’t travelled much outside of Japan since arriving until November this year, I’d only had one trip to Korea and that was in late April so have been fully immersed in Japan. That all changed this month – in November I’ve been to the UK, Korea and China! This has given me an opportunity to see both the UK and Japan from a different perspective.

It was strange for me to say to people that I live in Japan, for example when I left the hotel in Korea, the person who checked me out asked if I was going back to my home country and without thinking I said “yes, I’m going back to Japan where I live” – it still feels slightly strange to me that I live in Japan and really exciting! Also on the flight the attendant tried to give me a foreigner card to fill in and I said I didn’t need it as I was a Japanese resident – more slightly odd feelings!

Travelling outside and returning has made me appreciate even more how well organised Japan is, how compliant and polite the people are – most noticeable on road crossing – I found it seriously challenging to cross the road in China, it being somewhat chaotic but also having lost a lot of road sense from my months in Japan!

In the week I was there never got to understand the ‘rules’ for crossing the road in China, certainly a green light on a pedestrian crossing did not give me the right to cross, as I found out from various irate drivers and cyclists! I think the bigger and faster you are the more priority you have and slower and smaller vehicles/people should proceed slowly and yield! Not very intuitive when you’re out for your morning run in the dark! Also surprisingly the bikes and scooters do not use lights on the road even when pitch dark. I learnt this is to save batteries as most of the scooters are electric but quite terrifying when one suddenly appears from the dark!

I enjoyed reading Chinese symbols in China thanks to studying Japanese and Kanji I found I recognised a lot! I couldn’t say them but I knew what they meant which was good. Even though I knew Kanji was Chinese characters it was somehow reassuring to see that it meant I could recognise a bit of Chinese!

In China I visited 2 places, for most of the time I was in Shashi, a 3rd tier city next to Wuhan right in the centre of China, for the last 2 days I was in Beijing which (at least the parts I was in) was really developed and incredibly affluent. The company office in Beijing is in a shopping centre in the financial district with lots of designer and international shops and plenty of original art sculptures by people like Dali. In contrast Shashi is less developed although had changed considerably since I visited nearly 2 years ago with more international places, Pizza Hut, McDonalds and the like and now a fancy international hotel.

South Korea from my experience generally is more like Japan than China, more modern, more developed and more similar food. However there are still many differences and having come to love Japan it did feel good to be home!

My other observations on returning to Japan are:

– mask wearing (lots of people wear masks to prevent spreading colds and some to avoid allergies but this is more in the Spring)
– very clean (trains, airport etc)
– space – not a lot but people actually give you space as opposed to pushing past
– warm, at least compared to Beijing – it was 13 C when I arrived compared to 0 C in Beijing.

Autumn (partially) comes to Tokyo

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Japan goes crazy for Autumn colours- it’s a close second to cherry blossom – there are forecasts like you see in the rest of the world for the weather and the train stations are full of pictures of where you can go to see Japan in Autumn glory.

Japan is also famous for its ginko trees. A really nice tree that lines many Tokyo streets and turns golden yellow in Autumn.

In the UK Autumn is really in September and mostly in October so it’s strange for me to be at the end of November and Autumn is still not in its full glory.

This morning on my walk to work I took the picture in this post – it’s of ginko trees. They must be slightly different species as half are yellow and the other half still mostly green.  Its the kind of view that makes you appreciate life! Beautiful!

Namban Rengo 10k and Half Marathon races and BBQ – October 2014

At the end of October was the annual Namban race and BBQ. It took place on the Tamagawa river in the west of Tokyo. A good flat course and a very hot day. The amazing thing was that I was third in the woman’s half marathon (admittedly out of a field of 6) – the first time in my life that I’ve won a sporting prize!

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The medal winners