Training for Yamato

I've started training to join Wadaiko Yamato. Well, actually, I cannot join them, I am, unfortunately, too old. Thankfully, they do not have an age limit on their workshops. Last fall they offered a two day workshop called the "Yamato Course Workshop". Those who participated went through two days of training and practice in the same way that the performing members of Yamato do. That means starting with a 10 Km run through the hills and mountains surrounding Asukamura, followed by strength training (sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, etc), then breakfast and taiko practice until late in the evening. Look here, under Nov. 22 - 23, 2008 to read about it.

My wife, who spent 4 months as a tour assistant with Yamato in 1999, has always said that she wishes I could experience Yamato's training and practicing. Last year, I had hoped to join in the Yamato Course Workshop, but as it turned out, I had to work that weekend and could not go. Since then I have been hoping that they will offer a similar workshop again, before we return to the US late this year.

Several weeks ago, I happened to be in Asukamura (Nara Prefecture), where Yamato is based, and stopped by their house to say hello. Most of them were in Europe on tour, but the leader's wife was there and I had a chance to talk with her a bit. I mentioned my interest in participating in another Yamato Course Workshop and asked if she knew of any plans to offer one this year. She wasn't sure, but she warned me about how tough it was. In particular, she said that the 10 km they run is more strenuous than one might think because the course is not all flat, but rather goes through the hills and mountains.

No one wants to be the one guy (or girl) who can't keep up, so I thought that I should start training harder if I really want to do that workshop. Actually, I have been training since I came to Japan, but I rarely run for more than 45 min, and usually it is around 35 or so (but it does include a rather large hill). Anyhow, I figure that if I want to keep up with Yamato on their 10 km run, I had better be able to run for an hour through the mountains. Luckily, the mountains are quite close to my house, so finding a challenging course is the easy part.

Last Friday after work, the weather was beautiful, so, I picked a course that I thought would take me about an hour and started running. I ran uphill for 30 min, and then back down for 30 min, one hour through the mountains, and I did it all without stopping (a major accomplishment for me).

Much of the course takes me through small neighborhoods, and a large section passes through Kanazawa's largest graveyard! But for about 2 1/2 Km along the top of the "mountain", it is fairly isolated with only bamboo groves, pine forests or fruit orchards on either side of the road. There isn't much traffic that travels this road, so I could see some wildlife as I jogged along. I saw a pheasant and even what is called a Kamo shika in Japanese (Japanese Antelope?).
Photo credit

There are also signs warning of bears, though, so I don't know that I would want to run this course too early in the morning. I'm not too keen on meeting a bear all by myself.

Yesterday, I measured the course length with my car and it turned out to be about 9.5 Km. Just about the right length. I was pretty exhausted the next day, though. I am pretty sure that it was the first time that I ran for a whole hour without stopping, and through the mountains, no less. Unfortunately, I don't have time to run for an hour every morning before school, so I am planning to try to work in this long run at some point on the weekends, either Friday, after work, or Sunday mornings. The other two runs during the week I will keep running between 30 - 40 min.

While accomplishing a strenuous run like this is a big step for me, it is only a small step in preparing for the Yamato Course Workshop. Remember? After running an hour through the mountains, they go right into the strength training.


Anonymous said...

I am impressed, Brian! Great job! Think that the one obstacle for me joining up Yamato's workshop would be the 10km running, too...

Raion Taiko said...

Thanks. Of course, their other half-day workshops didn't include all running and strength training. Still, my wife said her hands were a bit sore after she took Yamato's Katsugi Taiko workshop.