I woke up early the day after New Year's for my last activity with friends in Japan. I knew today would be bittersweet, but that wouldn't keep me from spending an enjoyable day out with my host mother.
Rushing to eat breakfast, I dashed out the door with my host mother to make it in time for the big event— the national relay marathon! We had a little ways to go, but after 30 minutes or so of brisk walking, we made it to the marathon route. Even before we arrived, I could feel the anticipation and enthusiasm built around the event: people of all ages and types trying to hurry as nonchalantly as possible, talking to each other energetically. When I rounded the last bend and jogged down the last slope, I immediately knew I'd made it in time: the streets were lined and teeming with people as far as I could see.
I didn't really fully understand which runners were from which schools, and any greater significance therein, but it was still greatly enjoyable! I'd glean what I could from people's conversations, listening to broadcasts on their radios, full-blown stereos, walkmans(!?), smartphones and flip-phones. It was invigorating, entering into such an energized atmosphere around an event that brings so many people together every year..!!