In March of this year, I made a trip through Japan. This trip was a bit special for a few reasons: First, I was to travel solely by local trains (a limitation of the special ticket I had gotten: seishun18kippu 青春１８切符). Second, I was to practice my Japanese (it was, and still is, very needed). And third, I was to run at least once in each city I would visit. So that’s what I did. In 12 days, I went from Niigata City (where I live) all the way to Fukuoka in Kyushu. On my way, I stopped in Kanazawa, Kyoto, Himeji and Hiroshima. So, you guessed it, my upcoming posts will be about running in these cities. Today, our stop is Kanazawa City.
I arrived at 8pm, almost 6 hours after leaving Niigata station. There, I was greeted by the very impressive Tzuzumimon (I’ve also heard it called “Omotenashi gate”). I headed straight for my hostel (Shaq Bighouse, an awesome place; I’ll tell you more about it a bit further). After checking in, I debated going for a late run, but since it was dark and I had no idea where I was, I opted for getting some food and buying toothpaste instead. Then, bed time! At 6am, I woke up to a light drizzle. I put some long underwear pants (I’m not sure how to call that; it’s not really compression pants but kind of looks like it), a couple of shirts and my good old yellow running jacket, then, I was out the door.
Kanazawa is a beautiful city with a lot of busy people and, therefore, busy sidewalks. If you plan on running downtown, you definitely need to do so before all the commuters start their day. I was pretty satisfied with having all the nice covered sidewalks for myself when I started my run, but I knew my path wouldn’t be quiet for much longer. So I headed toward the Sai River. On the way there, I noticed a nice shrine/park on my left (1 on the map) so I went in a ran a little loop. It was pretty, but I didn’t venture quite far into it. I did do a “temple run” the next day though (see farther…).
Once I reached the river, I decided to go left and see what was upstream. The water was quite clear and fast. Its cobbled bed was so inviting that I almost considered going to dip my feet in for a second. Then I remembered that it was 6 degrees, raining, and that I was just starting my run.
The further I went, the bigger the houses around the river seemed to get. Unfortunately, I quickly found that the path was blocked by construction. I decided to turn around and thought; “maybe I can reach the sea…”
Turns out that the sea was still quite far. I think I made it about half way there before I decided to turn back around. My run ended up being over 16km, which was plenty for that day.
Overall, the path along the river is quite nice and mostly covered in decent-ish asphalt. It took me a while to notice (not sure why, since the signs were pretty big and obvious), but there are actually distance markers along the way. When I saw them, I also realized that the path is officially called the Saigawa Cycling Road.
Not long after I turned around, I started chatting with another foreigner who was running on the same path. I won’t even try to spell his name because it’s guaranteed that I wouldn’t get it right, but he was from Latvia and he was currently living in Kanazawa for a chef internship. When I reached my exit (i.e. when I saw the road I had used to reach the river), we said goodbye and I headed back to my hostel through the downtown area.
It was almost 8 O’clock at that point. The sidewalk was obviously busier than at 6, but it wasn’t really that bad. I guess the rain forced more people to take their car or the bus.
When I arrived at Shaq Bighouse, I was drenched. Since I pretty much had the whole place for myself, I decided to take my time in the shower and wash my clothes in it. Felt pret-ty good!
Coming up: Kanazawa Day 2, some more info about the city itself, the hostel, the new shinkansen line and the first Kanazawa marathon in 2015. Stay tuned…