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Salomon presents
'Pathfinder Walking Club'

Hakone Ekiden Walk Part 2 

Totsuka − Hiratsuka (Kanagawa)

Linking Otemachi in Tokyo’s financial district with Lake Ashi in Hakone, the "Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race” immediately conjures up the New Year holidays. French leading outdoor brand Salomon is known for both function and fashion, while Atmos is a trendsetter in sports casual wear. These two have recently joined forces to form a walking club to traipse the entire Hakone Ekiden route.


After climbing Gonta-zaka and blistering through the final 3km of undulations, the ace runners of each college run at full pelt to pass on their sashes. Or the front runners on the return route are searing ahead to ensure as high a rank as possible for their anchor. The Totsuka relay station is where those sashes have been passed from the 2nd to the 3rd and from the 8th to the 9th legs. Tackle Berry, a fishing tackle store located at the relay point, proudly displays the branch name “Totsuka Relay Store”.

This time, the walk starts from the Totsuka relay station. Standing in the very same place that is always on TV at New Year’s, the group were definitely in high spirits.

”Hakone Ekiden Walk Part 2″ kicked off at the Tackle Berry Totsuka relay store. Responding to the invite of Atmos boss Hidefumi Honmyo was Ryotaro Otani, a triathlete with a penchant for sneakers. Otani, who was also an Aoyama Gakuin University Hakone runner (sections 2 and 10), gladly exclaimed, “This takes me back” as he stood at the Totsuka relay station.

The walk starts in the residential area of Totsuka. The traffic is heavy, so one needs to find a walkway with a good view and stretch the legs.
Otani sporting the “XT-6.” Offering high performance in terms of cushioning and durability, the urban design is also eye-catching. 
XT-6 Black / Magnet / Evening Primrose ¥27,500 (incl. tax)

Otani describes the third leg as the “bridging section.” Following the 1st and 2nd legs which are fun by the main pacers, the 3rd leg sets a rhythm ahead of the 4th and then the hill-climbing 5th leg. As per the description – “for smart runners” – the course is flat with a downhill slope. The route from Yokohama City to Fujisawa City and Chigasaki City sometimes intersects and runs in parallel with the old Tokaido Highway. It is a road where not just Hakone runners, but people, goods, and culture have come and gone since ancient times.

 PAPERSKY editor-in-chief Lucas B.B. remarks along the way: “The best part of a walking trip is discovering how people used to think and how fast they used to go.”

We saunter down the 800-meter-long slope and pay a visit to Yugyoji Temple, the head temple of the Jishu sect of Buddhism which originated with itinerant preacher Ippen Shonin. Walking along the stone-paved approach, Mt. Oyama, which has long been a center of worship, loomed in the distance.

Otani and Lucas approach Yugyoji Temple. In early summer, the lush new greenery is exquisite.

At the Fujisawa Shuku Kouryukan near Yugyoji Temple, Honmyo gives a debrief:  “I am reminded of how there are places you can’t understand unless you actually walk around them. The Hakone Ekiden always looks spectacular on TV, but when you actually walk it, there are fewer places where you can feel the nature than I imagined. But it is nice to be able to sense the history here and there.” He has been at the forefront of the Japanese sneaker scene for a quarter of a century. A walking evangelist behind the recent boom, he has been strolling 4 km every morning for the last 10 years.

Fujisawa Shuku Kouryu-kan is the perfect place to take a break. Inside the museum, learn about the history of Fujisawa-shuku, which flourished on the old Tokaido Highway.
Learning the history of the route from maps. Honmyo – “Collecting is one and the same, whether it’s old maps or sneakers that you collect”.

”I also think it’s important for the sneaker business to form this kind of community and to go walking to understand unmet needs. Something close to public opinion can be found within communities, so I hope this walking club can become a catalyst for such a community.”

Upon entering the Shonan area, there are more and more stores that draw you in.
A well-earned coffee break at 27 COFFEE ROASTERS in Tsujido.
Shortly after passing the Tsujido Danchi pedestrian bridge, the halfway point of the 3rd section from Totsuka relay station, the group arrived in Chigasaki City!

Beginning in residential Totsuka and passing Fujisawa with its rows of commercial buildings, you know you have arrived in the Shonan area when a moist breeze can be felt from the south. Wearing a pair of Salomon XT-6 for this walk, Otani reminisces: “The latter 10km of the third leg is a straight road that follows the coast. The scenery is unchanging, so you don’t feel like you are making any progress, making it hard to get a sense of pace when you’re running”. Shoes designed for long distances have excellent stability and shock absorption, making them a great match for walking trips.

A cheer was let out as they spotted Enoshima floating in the sea to the east. From Chigasaki, you can walk along the sea, which is what makes this section of the route so appealing.
Lucas was wearing the XA PRO 3D. As well as firm stability and grip, these trail running shoes are lightweight and cushiony. 
XA PRO 3D Olive Night / Olive Night / Peat ¥17,600 (incl. tax)

The Hakone road from Chigasaki continues along the coast all the way to the Hiratsuka relay station. The pine forests that block the sea breeze are a reassuring presence for Hakone runners, although we are only walking on foot this time. Here, they headed out to the beach to walk along the “Shonan Kaigan, Sandy Beach Road”. The paved walkway is splendid, with fantastic views all the way to the horizon. The reassuring stability provided by the Salomon XA PRO 3D helped Lucas cruise through areas with accumulated sand. Always great to have trail running shoes designed to perform well on rough terrain and in bad weather.

The walkway rejoins the Hakone Road, along the soothing greenery of the windbreak pines. This is a section where you can enjoy the sea, the forest, and the changing scenery.
The XA PRO 3D is an updated version of Salomon’s bestseller.
Suitable for all terrains and featuring a modern and sleek design.
(Left) XA PRO 3D Rainy Day / Vanilla Ice / White ¥17,600 (incl. tax)

With Enoshima Island and Tsujido Beach to the rear, the seaside stroll continues along to Chigasaki Park and Southern Beach. There are runners who look like they could also be on the Hakone Road, surfers bobbing in the sea, and pedaling cyclists throwing up a cloud of dust. Soon enough, the mountains of Hakone towered far ahead, gradually getting larger.

The group walk on towards Hiratsuka, enjoying the laid-back Shonan vibe. That they still have a spring in their step 20km in is a testament to their trusty Salomon shoes. 

They finally cross the Shonan Ohashi Bridge into Hiratsuka City, and reach the goal at the Hiratsuka relay station after crossing the Hanamizugawa Bridge! 

It was indeed worth walking along the “bridging section” of the Ekiden route, as it provided a sense of the history of the road and the sensation of space provided by the coastal walkways. The next time they discover something, the mountains of Hakone may be even closer and looming even larger.

Arrival at the Hiratsuka relay station feeling like Hakone runners.
Smiles all around at the sense of accomplishment from traipsing through three whole sections.



text|Yosuke Uchida photography|Hao Moda