Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Tangerine

Sole Adventures-Tokyo Marathon 

Tokyo Marathon 2017 set the bar high with respect to race amenities and organization. 

Before I get into how amazing it was, let’s start with a picture of Dave and me in our corral G waiting for the start. 

We had about an hour to kill, so we took a couple other pictures. A selfie of us and one of Hello Kitty. 

I couldn’t pass up a picture of Hello Kitty with Mt. Fuji. Kawaii! 

Now onto the details of the race. Going through security was painless. We could see the start line from our hotel room and also Mt. Fuji if you look closely into the haze. 

Security opened at 7am. There were approximately 36,000 runners and I knew it would be best to be ahead of the crowds. We left our room at 7:15. I expected it would take us about an hour to get out of the hotel (slow elevators from the 28th floor), walk to our Gate, pass through security, use the restroom and then finally make our way to our start corral. Actually it only took us about 45 minutes. Being early and ahead of the crowd helped. 

The race started promptly at 9:10. We were passing the start line about 8 minutes later. Again, I expected 9:20ish. 

After we started, I put my phone away. Sorry, no more pictures. I took off the case and was worried I would drop it and there were so many people I was worried I would trip fooling around with it. 

Here are some highlights. Being dressed at Hello Kitty made the race a blast. Running on the outside, near the spectators, drew lots of “kawaii” and “Hello Kitty” comments. I would wave and smile. I felt like a celebrity. Simultaneously, by mile six, I was getting tired of waving. Haha. I made Dave move us over to the middle! 

The amount of spectators was unreal. They were literally lining the streets the entire way! They were cheering and had a variety of different noise makers. Surprisingly, we never heard any cowbell! 

The aid stations were every 2-3km. Yes, the entire race was measured in kilometers. Pathetically, we enjoyed doing the math to convert the kilometers to miles to help pass the time. 🤓 Every aid station had water and every other station had Pocari Sweat, the Japanese equivalent to Gatorade. After the halfway point, certain aid stations had bananas, tangerines, tomatoes, and a bread with something in it. I thought it was bean paste. Dave tried the bread and said no, it was chocolate! He also enjoyed several free candies and chocolates from spectators. I stuck with my three honey stingers and a half of tangerine around 32km or mile 20. The last thing I thought my intestines would tolerate was chocolate. I was a little bit disappointed there were no rice balls. I had heard through the grapevine that rice balls were offered. Nope. Let me just squelch that rumor! 

That pretty much covers everything. As I mentioned, the experience was wonderful. So wonderful in fact, we both agreed that was our LAST full marathon. We don’t need to do another. Ever. Half marathons from here on out. As we were enjoying our Sushi celebration dinner I asked Dave if he would rather climb Mt. Fuji or run another marathon. His response, “I’ve done both in 6 months, I’m good.” Simultaneously, he said, he was ready to run Key West Half Marathon anytime!! I couldn’t agree more! 

Thank you for all of the FB cheers, messages, and blog comments. Your support and love was felt by us both halfway around the world. 

To finish lines! Kanpie! 

The Art of Peeling a Tangerine 

Apparently, for the past 40+ years, I’ve been peeling my tangerines incorrectly. I’m sure you’re thinking “there’s a wrong way?” You just peel it and eat it. I thought that as well until a couple hours ago. Until I observed my Japanese grandmothers peel and eat a tangerine at snack time during our English class.

Let me back up and start at the beginning. For snack time after our class today, Junko-San brought in a tangerine for everyone. I was quietly relieved because last week I had to not only struggle through my green tea, but also a red bean paste filled dessert. I peeled my tangerine and made what I consider a normal amount of mess one would expect when eating a tangerine. Here is a reenacted photo of my American messiness.

I really dislike the strings and do my best to ensure I remove as many as possible. I place them all in a pile.

After peeling and cleaning, I looked up and realized how messy my napkin was compared to everyone else’s. Here is a reenacted photo of my Japanese grandmother’s napkins.

Yep, they peeled the tangerine without completely tearing it apart. It was like magic. What about the pile of strings? I realized they had placed them neatly inside the perfectly peeled rind. Attempting this at home, it took me about five minutes to peel the tangerine. I felt like I was a cross between a surgeon extracting the tangerine and a sculptor taking care not to damage the peel. It was very stressful.

Keep in mind, it wasn’t just one of the ladies in class peeling their tangerine this way – it was all five of them! I was a little embarrassed with my brash, although very efficient, American method of peeling a tangerine. Yet again making a spectacle of my gaijin (foreigner) self. 

On the train home, I reflected on the possible reasons for their artistic tangerine peeling ways. Here are a few of my ideas.

1. The Japanese are required to separate their trash and peeling a tangerine in this manner makes it easier to throw away into the appropriate container.

2. Fruit is very expensive and considered a delicacy. Therefore, when peeling fruit it should be done with extreme care and love.

3. Americans are messy. Japanese are tidy. This is simply a tidier way to eat a tangerine.

4. None of the above. I’m simply making an orchard out of a tangerine peel.

Regardless, I will be more mindful when peeling tangerines in public in Japan. However, when I am putting Dave’s lunch together in the morning, I will continue to use my American efficiency. Just grip it, rip it, trash it and bag it.

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