Hakone Relay Race (Ekiden) is one of the Japanese traditional events!

Hakone Ekiden” is one of the most famous New Year’s events in Japan.

The “Hakone Ekiden” is a 200km relay race from Tokyo to Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, over two days with 10 runners from each university. The official name is “Tokyo-Hakone University Ekiden Relay Race”. It has become a tradition of New Year in Japan. It is a traditional sports tournament that will be held for the 99th time in 2023.

Hakone Ekiden” started in 1920. The birth of the race was inspired by Shizo Kanaguri, the father of the marathon in Japan who wanted to develop world-class runners.

Kanaguri participated in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics as a representative, but was forced to withdraw and return to Japan. In 1917, the prototype of the “Hakone Ekiden” was held, and the event was a great success.

The “Hakone Ekiden” has many highlights, such as steep slopes depending on the section, and many people rush to cheer on the roadside every year. January 2nd, it starts in front of the Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo Station, passes through the big “Torii” of Hakone Shrine, and reaches the finish line. January 3rd, it will return to Tokyo from Hakone. Since Hakone is usually reached by train or bullet train from Tokyo, you can see that the distance is quite long.

My family also watches the Hakone Ekiden on January 2nd and 3rd, and it’s become a tradition for our family to gradually gather when the TV is on.

Next year, it will be the 100th time, so it has a very long history. Please check it out when you come to Japan.









Japanese Culture