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Marathon JapanDistance Racing and Civic Culture$
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Thomas R. H. Havens

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824841010

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824841010.001.0001

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Running for Everyone

Running for Everyone

(p.141) 7 Running for Everyone
Marathon Japan

Thomas R. H. Havens

University of Hawai'i Press

The general-participation Tokyo Marathon, first held in 2007, has propelled the craze for distance racing among the general public throughout Japan. Nonelite civic marathons date to the 1950s and now number in the hundreds. Governor Ishihara Shintarō created the Tokyo Marathon to muster political support, promote Tokyo tourism, and tout holding the 2016 Olympics there (Tokyo will host the 2020 games instead). The racing course winds through the central city, requiring cooperation from police, local merchants, thousands of volunteers, and corporate sponsors. Along the way festive arts performances entertain the one million or more spectators who line the marathon route. Open-entry races have sprung up in other cities emulating the Tokyo Marathon, including huge contests for citizen runners in Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Kobe, Nagoya, and Yokohama. These events unite runners and spectators, streetside and via TV, persons of both genders and all social and educational levels, creating a common civic culture.

Keywords:   Japan, marathon, Tokyo Marathon, Ishihara Shintarō, performing arts, civic culture, citizen runners

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