To be honest I am not into sports, nor spending hours in front of the TV during daytime. Furthermore I love the New Years Holidays in Japan, but I guess I am one of the few ones, who is not glued to the TV during the New Year Holidays in Japan. Still I see it as worthwhile to introduce you to Hakone Ekiden, because I came across a marvelous article that explains the excitement of this race, which got even me hocked on. So what is exactly Hakone Ekiden? Based on the information on Wikipedia:
“Hakone Ekiden (箱根駅伝), which is officially called Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race (東京箱根間往復大学駅伝競走 Tōkyō Hakone kan Ōfuku Daigaku Ekiden Kyōsō), is one of the most prominent university ekiden (relay marathon) races of the year held between Tokyo and Hakone in Japan on 2 and 3 January. The race is telecast on Nippon Television.”
If you were in Japan early January you would notice that a high number of Japanese are spending two days in front of the TV. Actually the roots of this race is quite old when it started in 1920 (based on the info on Wikipedia). Shizo Kanaguri (father of the Japanese marathon) came up with this idea. Actually the first original ekiden, the Tokaido Ekidentohokyoso (東海道駅伝徒歩競走) was held earlier in 1917 between Sanjō Ōhashi, Kyoto and Ueno Shinobazunoike in Tokyo. The inspiration of this race was to celebrate the 50 years since Tokyo became the capital. In contrast to today, this race was much longer between Kyoto and Tokyo (516 km) and was held for three days.
A recent marvelous article from the Guardian describes the fascination of the race, when I have to say, that from next year onwards I will be watching at least a part of it as well. I hope you can feel the excitement as well and get the Hakone Ekiden bug as well like most Japanese.
If the link does not work above, just try:
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)