This week in Tokyo

We had an eventful week here in Tokyo.

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, flew into Tokyo on Monday night. Next day, she was very busy - first thing in the morning, she visited Meiji Shrine. She also visited University of Tokyo and mixed with students, met with parents of abductees by North Korea, and of course met with our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister, as well as with our Emperor and Empress. I watched her day on the news that night - whoever arranged it really jam-pack her schedule. I was very impressed for she was always smiling, standing tall, and most of all, did not look sleepy at all.

I state this for unfortunately, on that very day, our Finance Minister resigned for almost falling asleep during a press conference after the G-7 meeting in Italy. From the video of it (which was very well watched on the web all over the world), he looked drunk. It was so embarrassing. Tokyo Stock Exchange recorded one of the lowest level since the burst of our "bubble economy" in the 1990s. Related article). It really is not a time to be getting drunk!

But for me, the biggest event this week for was the Eric Clapton concert - at Budokan. My wife and I had great seats (center, second row!). We thoroughly enjoyed the guitar maestro.

Here's the ticket.

The entrance to Budokan.

The concert organizer announced that there'll be a joint concert of Eric Clapton with Jeff Beck - after all the shows for each guitarist were sold out! Guess Deep Purple is coming to Tokyo, also.


30K run turned out to be a 10K

I just got back from running a 10K. The run - Ohme Marathon had two sections - 30K and 10K. Here is the info in English.

A word marathon ("marason" in Japanese) really means a long distance race. So, here in Japan, we can have a "5 km or even 3 km marathon". When we talk about the real full-length marathon, we say "full-marathon". Ohme marathon is one of the oldest of such "marasons" in Japan with this year being the 43rd with the first one held in 1967. However, this was the 41st race for in 1996 and 2008 (last year), the events were cancelled due to snow. The record shows that the first race was run with 337 people. This year, I understand that over 20,000 runners participated and of which some 5,000 ran the 10K.

When I applied for it back in November or December, I must have accidentally chose 10K instead of 30K.
A mistake like this is easy to do when via an internet homepage. Actually, I did not notice it until my wife asked me whether I entered for the 10K part when the confirmation postcard arrived about 3 weeks ago. I thought of calling them to change the category, but back then, I had a bad back and also a sore calf. So, I think it turned out OK and it was refreshing to run a 10 km race for a change.

I was worried about the weather for last year, the run which was scheduled for 3 February got cancelled due to heavy snow. But, this year, we were blessed with a beautiful, almost too warm of a weather. We had blue skies and temp. was about 10 deg. C (10 deg. F) when the race started at 10 AM. The runners that ran the 30K part - which started after the 10K runners finished must have been very hot.

It was a pretty fast pace run. I knew that I could afford to go a bit faster than usual for it was only a 10K. The route was hilly, but I did not have the usual frustration with trying to pass slow runners. At 5K, my time was approximately 22:50 or so (from actually crossing the starting line). The second half did feel long, but I finished it at 44:46"07 according to my stopwatch. My official time was 45:14 and I was the 112th finisher for 10K Men in the 40s. I am satisfied for this means my speed was faster than 4:30 per km pace.

The poster for the 43rd Annual Ohme 30K & 10K Road Race at Kabe Station.

The City of Ohme is famous for plum blossoms ("Ume") from which the name derives from.

Runners registering for the event.

After the run, Onigiri were distributed. It was a nice treat!

By the way, Tokyo is one of the 4 candidates for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

My next race will be 26 April - Half-Marathon in Maebashi.


Mishima Taisha

I had an overnight stay in the city of Mishima, a historic city close from Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, the entire time I was there, low clouds did not allow a view of the mountain.

Although I did not have much time, I could take a nice jog in the morning of Friday.
One place I made sure to run to was Mishima Taisha. At this shrine in 1180 AD, Minamoto no Yoritomo prayed for victory over then ruling Samurai Clan - Heike , the legend says.

Here is the entrance to Mishima Taisha.

The Main building of the shrine.

An Ema dipicting Daikokuten. The flowers at the top of the picture are sakura (cherry blossom). Although it is an unusually warm winter this year, I was surprised to see them so early!

Emas depicting Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

Here's me in a silver ball - coming back to my hotel from the shrine.


Kobe Chinatown

In Japan, there are Chinatowns. Three of the most famous and popular are in port cities of Yokohama, Nagasaki, and Kobe.

On Tuesday, I had a chance to visit the one in Kobe, also known as Nankin-machi.

It is not such a big area, but a charming little place. I had a nice bowl of noodle soup for lunch at a restaurant called Minsei.

Here's the map of Kobe Chinatown.

Mausoleum of Guan Yu in the middle of Nankin-machi.

Streets of Nankin-machi. When I was there, it was not so busy.

Hey, that is not a person, but a mannequin in front of a potsticker stand!