@51 days until Hiroshima Summit: Hiroshima Men’s Ekiden

by Masahiko Tomooka, Staff Writer

There is a special attraction in Hiroshima in January. It is the Hiroshima Men’s Ekiden relay race (Emperor’s Cup National Inter-Prefectural Men’s Ekiden Race), in which the athletes representing each prefecture connect sashes with the hopes and pride of their hometowns on their backs.

The first race was held in 1996. It was redesigned from the Chugoku Ekiden, which began in 1931 and had athletes compete in three divisions: general, high school, and municipal. Since 2000, the race has been held on a 48-kilometer course with seven sections that start and end in front of Peace Memorial Park, located in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward, which conveys “Hiroshima” to the world.

It is not only the sashes that are connected. The teams consist of junior high school, senior high school, and general athletes, and the behavior of the general athletes serve as a role model for junior and senior high school students. In the place where the preciousness of peace is handed on to the next generation, the athletes’ mindsets are also passed on.

(Originally published on March 29, 2023)