This is the route I ran every day as part of my training when I lived in Kyoto. I like running courses that have a radical change in scenery, where you can enjoy a variety of landscapes, such as rivers, shrines, parks and ponds—so this one ticks all the boxes! Encountering rickshaws carrying tourists on the way to old shrines and temples makes this a very typical Kyoto street. You can also observe the four seasons up close. For instance, Mt. Atago, the highest mountain in Kyoto, flushes pink with magnificent cherry blossoms in the spring, has gorgeously colorful foliage in the fall, and is beautifully snow-capped in the winter.
Whenever I have the opportunity to take this route, I use it as a relaxed warm-up, which allows me to enjoy the scenery and my favorite music, and ready myself for a more intense training session. Although it is important to put your body through a demanding workout, it is equally important to have a route that you can enjoy with your eyes and mind. When I run in Arashiyama, everybody, from children to seniors, cheer me on as though I am competing in a race or running a marathon. I like to be observant and remember how beautiful the sky was, or how cute the pet dogs I saw were. I get a “runner’s high” not only from the friendly locals, but also from the cityscape and the scenery I pass by.
From Kamino-bashi Bridge, which was close to my dormitory, I would run along the Katsura River to Matsuo Taisha Shrine. Before starting the run, I also recommend stretching and loosening your body by the riverbank. Although I sometimes ran through the residential area near Matsuo Taisha Shrine, the path through Arashiyama Higashi Park is a cycling road and has fewer cars, so I would often opt for this instead. From there, you go past the well-known and often crowded landmark of Arashiyama, Togetsukyo Bridge, and head to Seiryo Temple. When you reach the front of the temple, turn right. You will pass a famous tofu shop, and the pastoral countryside setting is quite calming. Eventually you arrive at the goal, the serene Hirosawa Pond.
- About this route
- Location: Sakyo Ward and Ukyo Ward in western Kyoto
- Distance: 6.9 km
- Trail type: asphalt
- Greenery: abundant
- Recommended season: year-round
- Sites of interest and facilities: Matsuo Taisha Shrine, Arashiyama Higashi Park (restrooms), Seiryo Temple, Hirosawa Pond
- Average temperature: summer 24 °C, winter 1 °C
- Access: The start of the trail is a 20-minute walk from the Kamikatsura Station on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line. From the end point, it is a 20-minute walk to Saga-Arashiyama Station on the JR Line.
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About Mizuki Noguchi
Born 1978 in Mie Prefecture, Mizuki Noguchi is a professional runner. Noguchi won the gold medal in the women’s marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and currently holds the Olympic record for Japan and Asia for the fastest time in the women’s marathon. Originally produced by Runner’s Information Research Institute (www.runnersinfo.org). Edited by Madaoka Hattori with translation by Yu Araki.