Japan
Japan

Japan

Amazing. Modern. Proud. Efficient. I can’t think of enough superlatives with which to describe Japan. It is a place where “hand-made” means that the quality is so good and so intricate that no machine could have produce it. Running is beloved by many and food worshipped by all. Respect and courtesy are so ingrained that even boorish tourists like me fall in line.

We visited Kanazawa, Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, and Kyoto. Though we have many fond memories of all of these places, our favorite night by far was spent running laps around Oda Field with the Namban Rengo Running club. Many thanks to Bob Poulson, who organizes the running club, for making our visit to Tokyo authentic and memorable.

We stayed in a Ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, near the hot spring village of Yamanaka in Ishikawa prefecture. We were encouraged to wear Yukata, seen here, and to sleep on tatami mats. The Yukata were great, but the tatami mats took some getting used to.
We stayed in a Ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, near the hot spring village of Yamanaka in Ishikawa prefecture. We were encouraged to wear Yukata, seen here, and to sleep on tatami mats. The Yukata were great, but the tatami mats took some getting used to.
Sean Pont
Walking around town, it's easy to spot the tourists: they're often the ones dressed in traditional dress! Look closer, and you will find that these two fellow travelers are also drinking a traditional beverage: red bull.
Walking around town, it's easy to spot the tourists: they're often the ones dressed in traditional dress! Look closer, and you will find that these two fellow travelers are also drinking a traditional beverage: red bull.
Sean Pont
Higashi Chaya district in Kanazawa -- beautiful but busy. Most of the tourists were Japanese.
Higashi Chaya district in Kanazawa -- beautiful but busy. Most of the tourists were Japanese.
Sean Pont
Ishikawa prefecture has cold winters, and when we arrived towards the end of March there was still a lot of snow on the mountains. Many of the trails we had hoped to run here were impassible.
Ishikawa prefecture has cold winters, and when we arrived towards the end of March there was still a lot of snow on the mountains. Many of the trails we had hoped to run here were impassible.
YiOu Wang
Running through the outskirts of Kaga (Ishikawa prefecture) on a quite, crisp morning. The trails were covered in snow so we had to stick to the roads, which had their own zen beauty.
Running through the outskirts of Kaga (Ishikawa prefecture) on a quite, crisp morning. The trails were covered in snow so we had to stick to the roads, which had their own zen beauty.
Sean Pont
Let's go to Tokyo! Fast!
Let's go to Tokyo! Fast!
YiOu Wang
On our way to Tokyo, we stopped at Jigokudani Monkey Park, near Nagano, and home to famous Snow Monkeys. They are often depicted bathing in natural onsen (hot springs) surrounded by snow. Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the season and the snow had long since melted. Even so, the monkeys stuck the hot springs and posed obligingly because they are fed regularly.
On our way to Tokyo, we stopped at Jigokudani Monkey Park, near Nagano, and home to famous Snow Monkeys. They are often depicted bathing in natural onsen (hot springs) surrounded by snow. Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the season and the snow had long since melted. Even so, the monkeys stuck the hot springs and posed obligingly because they are fed regularly.
Sean Pont
Asakusa is a popular Buddhist temple in the heart of Tokyo. It was indeed beautiful, though I was more impressed by how it could accommodate so many people!
Asakusa is a popular Buddhist temple in the heart of Tokyo. It was indeed beautiful, though I was more impressed by how it could accommodate so many people!
Sean Pont
Ever wanted to go mario-karting around downtown Tokyo? You can! We didn't, but you can.
Ever wanted to go mario-karting around downtown Tokyo? You can! We didn't, but you can.
Sean Pont
Japanese culture is different, and I'll leave it at that.
Japanese culture is different, and I'll leave it at that.
Sean Pont
Tokyo in the afternoon. The city is endless, but also incredibly clean and well-maintained.
Tokyo in the afternoon. The city is endless, but also incredibly clean and well-maintained.
Sean Pont
Tokyo at dusk
Tokyo at dusk
Sean Pont
Tokyo at night
Tokyo at night
Sean Pont
Tokyo at night from a helicopter -- now that's something new!
Tokyo at night from a helicopter -- now that's something new!
YiOu Wang
We were very fortunate to hit peak cherry blossom season! Everyone was out on the grass enjoying lunch away from the office. At night, the parks were filled with people enjoying the flowers... and beer.
We were very fortunate to hit peak cherry blossom season! Everyone was out on the grass enjoying lunch away from the office. At night, the parks were filled with people enjoying the flowers... and beer.
Sean Pont
More cherry blossoms in Kyoto. These photos don't do it justice. The colors were very calming and peaceful, though the allergies were less pleasant.
More cherry blossoms in Kyoto. These photos don't do it justice. The colors were very calming and peaceful, though the allergies were less pleasant.
YiOu Wang
More cherry blossoms, this time in Kyoto. You can see another photographer at the end of the walkway. We passed literally hundreds of people taking pictures along this canal.
More cherry blossoms, this time in Kyoto. You can see another photographer at the end of the walkway. We passed literally hundreds of people taking pictures along this canal.
YiOu Wang
Cherry blossoms in Kyoto frame YiOu running intervals. This photo wasn't staged at all and I got it on the first try.
Cherry blossoms in Kyoto frame YiOu running intervals. This photo wasn't staged at all and I got it on the first try.
Sean Pont | Art direction by YiOu Wang
The river in Kyoto was lined with cherry blossoms and had great running paths on both sides.
The river in Kyoto was lined with cherry blossoms and had great running paths on both sides.
Sean Pont
Cherry blossoms aren't the only attraction. Carefully tended Japanese Maple trees in many of the temples are equally stunning.
Cherry blossoms aren't the only attraction. Carefully tended Japanese Maple trees in many of the temples are equally stunning.
Sean Pont
Patience, Sean-san.
Patience, Sean-san.
Sean Pont
Kōtoku-in, The Great Buddha of Kamakura, is very large and very old. It was constructed in 1252 during the Kamakura era, a period when the Kamakura shogunate ruled Japan. The statue used to be protected by a giant hall, but it washed away in a tsunami in 1498. The Great Buddha has bravely weathered the elements ever since.
Kōtoku-in, The Great Buddha of Kamakura, is very large and very old. It was constructed in 1252 during the Kamakura era, a period when the Kamakura shogunate ruled Japan. The statue used to be protected by a giant hall, but it washed away in a tsunami in 1498. The Great Buddha has bravely weathered the elements ever since.
Sean Pont
Kokyo Gaien National Garden, part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. There are hundreds of runners doing laps around the palace morning, noon and night. With views like this, it never gets old.
Kokyo Gaien National Garden, part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. There are hundreds of runners doing laps around the palace morning, noon and night. With views like this, it never gets old.
YiOu Wang
Okay, let's talk about food.
Okay, let's talk about food.
Sean Pont
Tempura... put it in my mouth now!
Tempura... put it in my mouth now!
Sean Pont
A simple lunch of hot soba noodles and mackerel. You can't imagine how delicious this was. Portion size, however, left something to be desired. Perhaps if I had eaten both bowls...
A simple lunch of hot soba noodles and mackerel. You can't imagine how delicious this was. Portion size, however, left something to be desired. Perhaps if I had eaten both bowls...
YiOu Wang
Running near Hakone. The trails here were epic, with great views of Mt. Fuji along the ridge.
Running near Hakone. The trails here were epic, with great views of Mt. Fuji along the ridge.
Sean Pont
Mt. Fuji and Ms. YiOu
Mt. Fuji and Ms. YiOu
Sean Pont
Not everything in Japan was Sean-sized.
Not everything in Japan was Sean-sized.
YiOu Wang

Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/6wftiQ4W2FDdNPH12