COVID has meant that a lot of charity and awareness events have had to be cancelled, or reformatted – as our own Tokyo Toy Run got reworked, but it still got done which was great. TELL is an organization in Japan which provides support and counseling to those international residents with mental health needs. They run regular events to raise funds and awareness, and this year they’re running a more COVID do-able walking challenge – do 21,081 steps in a day.
Those steps can be done solo (as I did) or as part of a team, as long as it’s on the same day. The number is to recognise the 21,081 people who took their own lives in Japan in the last year. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.
It’s easy to sign up, a small fee of 1,500yen, and you’ll receive a very comfortable TELL Step Up face mask.
I decided I’d do mine as a walk around the beach area of Shonan, so I planned a route from Fujisawa station, down to the beach and then to Enoshima and back, then up the coast and loop back through Tsujido to Fujisawa station.
Usually I’m on two wheels when I’m passing through, so it was actually good to be doing it on foot for for a change since it’s a different way of seeing a place, and also brought along our old point n click camera to see if I could get a few photos along the way. I should mention that the forecast was cool and overcast, but on the day it was around 30degreesC and bright blue skies.
From Fujisawa station, I went to the Sakai River and followed it to where it comes out at the Enoshima bridge road and the ocean. That’s a nice walkway next to the river, quite a few bridges if those are your thing, and quite a few people practicing canoeing down to the ocean and back on the river.
If you’re passing at the right time you can also see the old school Enoden tram going over the river on its dedicated bridge.
At the end of the river is the Katase-Enoshima Odakyu station, which, if you haven’t seen it is quite striking in its own way, looking almost Chinese in it’s colourful design.
On this particular day, it was getting up to the mid 30s C, so I was ready for a nice cold dink and a sit down. Unfortunately for me, I was too early for many of the cafes around the station, but I did find one place, over the Benten bridge and just behind the Police box with a friendly looking egg man outside, called the Shio Cafe, so I popped inside and had some iced fresh orange juice.
After that stop it was time for the middle third, which was a walk over to the foot over Enoshima and back, which was the only time I walked the same piece of pavement twice, but it is nice to walk out and look back towards the coast of the mainland and get that different view of Mt. Fuji.
Then it was a walk up the beach track. I did most of this in my running shoes, but I’ll admit I’m a bit of a barefoot fan, so I probably did a few thousand steps on that sandy asphalt track carrying my shoes and socks and it felt good. (Walking down coasts always makes me think of The Man Up the Pole.)
My next turn was through an underpass into the Kaihin Koen and my second and final break – a great cream at the park’s Smile Cafe. It’s a nice little place, and it reminded me that in non Corona times, the park plays host to a very decent matsuri in the Summer if you’re ever around.
Sadly in some ways the rest of the walk was to be urban – a straight walk up to Tsujido station, but a reminder of all the cool little restaurants and cafes which are still going through all this COVID impact, all the traffic cramming down the roads and all the people still bustling around despite the lack of pavements, and narrow pedestrian walkways. It does make you feel good to know that it’s all still out there.
At Tsujido station, I crossed from the ‘south’ to the ‘north’, that is, crossing the Tokaido-sen railway lines, which locals treat as something of a dividing line at times. On the north side of the station is the sprawling new Terrace Mall, which forms the heart of a fairly large group of retail buildings with everything from expensive bag shops to wall climbing clubs and rooftop spas commanding envious views of Mt. Fuji from an onsen.
Sadly none of this was for me yet. I still had a few thousand steps to go, fortunately in a straight line, down the path alongside the tracks,
It’s not a bad walk either, some cafes, some shops, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club and some konbini’s and then with yet another shopping centre – Fill. It was still hot though.
And there it was, all the steps done. It felt good, though I was still another thousand away from the station and a bowl of gyudon at Yoshinoya.
This was a nice pleasant walk for me – my legs may have disagreed at points – but it was no hardship, and given what it supports, publicizes and provides funds for, it seems like something more can do. Certainly I’ll be up for it next year – or whatever even they come up with!