2008-03-05

Cherry Blossoms and Training

Today Japan's meteorologists released their forecast for the 2008 Cherry Blossom season. It will start in Kyushu in a couple weeks, and over a month or so, slowly make its way through Japan, all the way to Hokkaido. Even though I woke up to a couple inches of snow today, I guess the cherry blossom forecast is a good sign that spring is not far. In fact, by mid-day most of the snow had melted and the temperature was fairly mild. Today I was able to come home from work early (around 3) and since the weather was nice, I decided it was a good time to get back into my running schedule. Since August, I was running consistently about 3 times a week, but by the time the end of November came around, it was so dark in the mornings, and the weather was so often rainy, I haven't been doing it for awhile. Recently, however, I've been noticing that the sun is coming up earlier, and the weather has been improving, so I have been mentally preparing myself to start up the training again. I'm happy to say that I have not lost much endurance, in spite of my break. The route I was running in the fall usually took about 35 - 37 minutes and today, I completed the same route in about 35 min. My goal is to run 3 or 4 times a week for 45 min to an hour, but after a nearly 4 month break, I am pretty pleased with 35 minutes.

Anyhow, I thought some of my readers might be interested in seeing the running route I take, so the other day I took my new camera and my bike and took some pictures of interesting spots along the way. So here is my little photo essay on my running route.
Here is the view from my balcony. In the back of the picture, there is a hill (not the snow covered mountains). There is sort of an open area, flanked by trees. That is my goal.



I always start from the same place, in front of my apartment building.



And proceed down this road until it ends...



The road ends at a high school (Izumigaoka High School). One of the top schools in the prefecture. On the left, there is a bakery, and even at 5:15 in the morning, they are already open. I can always smell the bread baking, but unfortunately, I cannot stop for bread...



I turn right here, and run along this street for awhile. This is a spot along the street...



There is nothing particularly special about this spot along the road. But sometimes, when the weather was warmer, there was an elderly man outside (at 5:20 or so) throwing bread up in the air. I would find this very amusing, if he had had no purpose, but he was, in fact, feeding eagles, from the nearby hills. When he threw the bread in the air, the eagles would swoop down, snatching it out of the air.

Anyhow, I follow this road for awhile and eventually turn here, when it turns towards the hills ...



I run parallel to the hills for awhile, passing this shrine on my left. You can't see the shrine, but I love the huge trees...



Finally I come to my Rocky Balboa moment. From here, there are more than 230 steps to the top...



Here is the top of the first set of stairs...



But this is only about halfway. There is still about 100 more steps to climb...



Finally at the top, there is a great view. If I have brought by Odaiko sticks (the big ones) along, I will swing them here about 100 times, before moving on. Air Taiko!





On a clear day you can see the Sea of Japan, even the Japanese Alps, in Toyama are sometimes visible.



On my way down, I pass this interesting looking tree.



My road home takes me through a large temple complex and Kanazawa's largest cemetery. I pass by the main gate of the temple ...



Even at 5:30 in the morning, there are people coming to the temple to say prayers. Sometimes, the quiet of the early morning is absorbed by the deep, rich sound of a temple bell.

This is the steepest part of the road back down the hill. It runs right through the cemetery. There are signs around warning people about the bears that sometimes come out of the hills, but it is also well shaded, and I don't have to work as hard going down hill. It is especially refreshing in the summer, and I haven't had to run from any bears yet.



Looking back from the bottom of the hill. From here, it's a straight shot, slightly downhill, through a couple of neighborhoods and back to my apartment.



As I said, it usually takes around 35 minutes. As soon as I get back into my 3 - 4 times a week schedule, I hope to go further and further up the hill, until I am running for 45 to an hour.

2 comments:

Marlene said...

I didn't know you run! Your route is great; reminds me of when I used to run in Germany and the different things I would notice everyday. Those steps look treacherous... they are often the best part of a run:) I haven't ran in "years". Good job for keeping up with it:) -Marlene's Mom

Raion Taiko said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I've found it a bit difficult to keep up with the schedule this spring, but I am still somewhat consistent. Having a goal (like taiko playing) really helps my dedication.

 
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