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The Way of the Runner: A Journey into the Fabled World of Japanese Running
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The Way of the Runner: A Journey into the Fabled World of Japanese Running

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  890 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
It may come as a surprise to many people, but Japan is the most running-obsessed country on earth. A 135-mile relay race, or "ekiden" is the country's biggest annual sporting event. Thousands of professional runners compete for corporate teams in some of the most competitive races in the world. The legendary "marathon monks" run a thousand marathons in a thousand days to r ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Pegasus Books (first published September 8th 2015)
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May 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately this was nowhere near as interesting as his previous book 'Running with the Kenyans' which is mostly to do with the fact that the book seemed like a long magazine article extended into a book. The only reason he seems to find for the Japanese being good at running is the intense pressurised training they are subjected to in ekiden relays. However this very often leads to burnout and their racing careers are often over by their mid twenties. There are some interesting mentions of Ga ...more
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
For more of my reviews, check out my blog: Http://

I began reading this book because I have recently rediscovered my love for running. But as I read the words and really thought about what the author was saying, goosebumps spread across my arms. Just thinking about the dedication, love, and commitment to running.. It amazes me. But instead of the author keeping with the excitement, the book (at times) kind of drags out. Although I enjoyed what I read, I found myself putting the
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: posseduti
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Luke Leighfield
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea that Japan was so obsessed with running. One of their ekidens – a long-distance relay race that's unique to Japan – gets viewing figures equivalent to the Super Bowl. In this book, Finn moves to Japan to find out more about its obsession with the sport and what we can learn from it. If you're a runner, and even if you're not, it's a fascinating read. And it totally made me want to go back to Japan.

"Running, too, can be a way to self-fulfilment. It has a purity, a power, a way of c
Quite disappointing, the whole book could have been a very good article. However the writer opted to the book format, which necessitated very long and irrelevant 'detours' that were in the end not offering anything to the final story. The world of Japanese running is exciting, but this book simply does not cut it.
Neil S W Murray
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read on running and an insightful look at why the Japanese are so good at long-distance running. I also enjoyed learning about ekiden, something that’s incredibly popular in Japan yet I’d never heard of before.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about running for runners by a runner. I loved it. I'm not entirely sure people who don't run will find this even remotely enjoyable, so I'll stick to recommending it to fellow runners only.
Telmo Fernandes
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Sim, é um livro sobre corrida, e provavelmente só quem corre se vai interessar por desfolhar as mais de 300 páginas. Mas é também, ou se calhar sobretudo, o relato de um estranho numa terra estranha, e das inúmeras experiências de lost in translation com que se vai deparando. E nesse sentido, fica mais no registo de livro de memórias de viagem (em que a dissonância com o cenário funciona como motor) do que no de reportagem sobre a realidade da corrida de fundo no Japão. Pessoalmente, gosto de ob ...more
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult to pin down, but I found this less rewarding and also less engrossing than 'Running with the Kenyans'. There is much about the Japanese lifestyle and also the traditional ekiden relay race, but somehow the individuals he met seem to be represented slightly one-dimensionally. Long-distance running is big business in Japan and they have plenty of young/university athletes, but can't seem to translate it to the world stage and take on the Ethiopians and Kenyans at the marathon, and ...more
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good read although not as good as running with the Kenyans. The factual insights are really interesting and the author writes well but as in the Kenyan book I didn't find him particularly likeable. I did share his disappointment at the race cancellation at the end although the attempt to make it meaningful could easily feature on /r/runningcringe.
Anna Epishcheva
Very zen book about isolated world of Japanese running, now I need to go to Japan in January again because last time I missed ekiden completely! Speaking seriously, good plot that leads to some deep thinking about nature of the concepts fast running, commitment , "wa" and learned paradigms that may limit not only your running but your life also.
Desmond Reid
In the world of long distance running, it is the African nations of Kenya and Ethiopia that dominate. Surprisingly, it is the nation of Japan which comes a close third. Yet, we know so little of this other running powerhouse.

After the success of his book 'Running with the Kenyans', Finn travels to the Far East to find out more about this unique running culture. In a nation where Japans very distinct running event - the 'Ediken' or marathon relay draws Super-bowl plus television figures, he meets
Trung Nguyen Dang
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book is surprisingly fun to read if you are into running.
The book is about the author's 6 months journey in Japan to explore its culture. It's insightful on not just running culture but also Japanese culture in general. Japan is sports-obsessed country where kids start training hard and very focused since young. Running is a also probably the second most popular sports, after baseball. Japanese loves running as a sport and takes it very seriously. They train in large and dedicated group, sp
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finn combines moderate expertise in running with his own family's fish-out-of-water story of moving to Japan and immersing themselves in its culture. Finn gives a good (though not great) narrative that focuses on a couple of interesting characters, though prevents the reader from giving Finn himself too much sympathy. The result is a book that can never really find its footing in any one place.

That said, I come to this book as a casual runner (though compared to Finn's times, I could safely be
Istvan Zoltan
An interesting book on running in Japan. The writer, Adharanand Finn, wanted to understand the Japanese ekiden running world better. However, without adequate language knowledge and cultural understanding, he moved to Japan with his family unprepared and found that it is very different to interact with professionals in Japan as it is in the UK or Africa. Hence, he learned a good deal less about the running world in Japan and the way elite runners and their coaches train and think about running, ...more
Matt Carl
May 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Finn does a good job keeping the story engaging, but he is definitely the hero of his own tale. I think he dwells a little too much on his own accomplishments and disappointments rather than the story of the Japanese runners he's supposedly seeking out. I also feel like he was culturally insensitive at times, being the ugly westerner who comes in without learning the language and expecting people to fix things for him. He seems to have had a very narrow snapshot of Japan. Maybe there just wasn't ...more
Two Readers in Love
Travel and reading about travel is my gateway into the other countries and other cultures I'd like to experience more fully if I had a thousand lives to live.

In my limited experience, the travel that I've found most fulfilling is - strangely enough - travel for work rather than travel for pleasure. Having to buy a new router in a Swiss computer store, or navigating renting a German apartment makes me feel like I know a little slice of those cultures better than when I tour cathedrals and museum
Nitin Jagtap
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
The two countries that most of us know about when it comes to long distance are Kenya and Ethiopia, however very few of us know that Japan is also a very serious and seasoned competitor in the world of long distance running having had 5 Boston Marathon winners till date and many more top level finishes in major races around the world. Japanese and their obsession with distance running is something unknown to a large part of the leisure running community
Author Adharanand Finn an Englishman who is
Aravind Nagarajan
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it
The writer builds up from his earlier work 'Running with the Kenyans' and this time focuses on the Japanese and their obsession with long-distance running. Being obsessed with both Japan and long distance running, reading this book was a no-brainer.
However, this book was disappointing in large parts. I would have liked to read more about Japanese culture and what makes these people so singularly dedicated to amateur/semi-professional running. Instead, I ended up reading quite a bit about the aut
Ian Huang
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really fascinating read if you are both a runner and a traveler. Coming from a background of East Asian culture and now lives in the U.S., I felt deeply about what the author portrayed in terms of cultural differences. These differences have above and beyond on every aspect from running, thinking, and society structure. It's also interesting to see one the runners in the book, Suguru Osako, has placed 3rd in 2017 Boston Marathon. It is worth following up how East and West training concepts and p ...more
Lewis Kelly
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
A fairly fun, quick read. Somehow felt more like a magazine article run amok than an actual book. Finn takes his family to Japan to live for six months while he hangs out with Japanese runners. Rather too much of the book is about his struggle to penetrate the closed Japanese culture. Finn is also not what I would call a great crafter of sentences. But the prose is clear at least, and the story is interesting in aggregate if not always in specific. The worst parts were Finn’s descriptions of the ...more
Adolfo Neto
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book about running in Japan. I am not a real runner but now I know what "ekiden" is. The book describes not only the running culture in Japan but also part of Japan's cuture. You will know what is an ekiden, why Japanese runners are some of the best in the world, how high schools, universities and companies invest in running. You will also read some plausible theories of why Japanese runners are not even better. Adharanand is a great storyteller and, although the book is a little bit long, ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed reading about how Japanese runners train and details about the ekiden. I also enjoy reading about the big races and the outcome. However, Finn should have cut out some of the smaller transitional races because it bogged down the overall flow and made the discoveries feel drug out. This did make me want to check out his other book about Kenyan runners. If you enjoy reading about running and races, you probably would enjoy this.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subject matter - elite Japanese running culture - is very interesting to me, but unfortunately Adharanand Finn doesn't really manage to get the insiders perspective that I am looking for, though he does make a good attempt for a western person who doesn't speak Japanese.

What I really am looking for is for a top Japanese Ekiden runner to write a memoir about the experience and then someone can translate that into english so that I can read it.
Melissa Gastorf
self indulgent author. This book is not as well written as his one about Running with the Kenyans. In this one, he spends most of the book whining about how he cannot break into the world of Japanese running and how they are closed off. There are some that help him, but many are guarded and don't want to give them their story. And his one chance to actually race with them, on a team, is cancelled due to a snow storm.
Oh, and he ignores his family's misery in search of his story.
Csaba Tarnai
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running
Japan is third running nation after Kenya and Ethiopia. However their races are little known outside Japan and by the time they have run these they are burnt out for Olympic races. Difference is the discipline, over training at high school age, running on concrete and the team approach to running (ekiden). Kenya is less running, on soft soil, more fun, more recovery.

Key take away for me was learning of write and it’s application in his own hobby running
James Targett
I liked this, I am a keen runner, and in the past have studied martial arts and taken an interest in Japan. So a book about running, in Japan, felt like worlds colliding. I am not sure I gained any personal insight into this, but it was interesting to see Japan through a sub-culture that wasn't anime or martial artists or corporate salary-men.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This would be more like 3.5 stars. I read this hoping to learn some secrets of Japanese running, and I don't feel like I did. Then again, I'm not sure the author did either. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the window into Japanese running culture. I haven't read his book about Kenyan running, but I liked his style enough to have a go at it.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
An easy read with some tips about running, but mostly about culture in Japan and why when they train so heavily are they not more dominant in the world of competitive running.

I read it quickly and it kept my attention well.

I would recommend it and have passed the book on to friends who are runners.

It might be interesting to non runners if you are interested in Japan/Japanese culture.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Not as good as his first book, Running with Kenyans. This one seemed to struggle to tell the story - the Japanese weren't keen on talking to foreigners, so this book just wanders without the reader learning much.
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