CULTURE

Japan warms up in preparation for Nagano Commemorative Marathon

From far-off snow-covered Nagano, Japan, where the Winter Olympics were held in 1998, Kensuke Kosaka, who publishes the Shinano Mainichi Shimbun (circulation 500,000) daily has come to see the Olympic marathon. Kosaka’s grandfather founded the newspaper, which was first published on July 5, 1873 and is one of the oldest in Japan. Nagano is known as the Gate to Japan’s Northern Alps. After the Winter Olympics, which trained the eyes of the world on the town, it was at Kosaka’s initiative that the «The Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon» was first held, aimed at keeping alive the Olympic spirit in the town. The next time it is to be held is on April 17, 2005 in the city’s Sports Park over a classic course of 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles). This will be the seventh annual race, in which 2,000 runners will take part, watched by a crowd of 100,000 and helped by 2,500 volunteers. Much of the course follows a riverbank overhung with the cherry trees that will be in blossom at that time of year. Kosaka supports the marathon for his newspaper, honoring its own «marathon through time,» because when the Nagano Winter Olympics were held, the newspaper celebrated its 125th anniversary. Kosaka, a former swimmer, believes in the need for sport that takes place in the open air, requires stamina, discipline and faith in victory. Kosaka visited Kathimerini headquarters recently with the head of the newspaper’s foreign desk, Yashushi Aoki, and their interpreter, Mrs Takeuchi, for talks with Managing Editor Christos Panagopoulos and Editor of Kathimerini’s English Edition Nikos Konstandaras, senior staff members and board member Martha Dertili. Talk focused on Kathimerini, whose history began in 1919 and witnessed the major events in Greece’s recent history, and the climate in Olympic Athens. The guests asked about the marathon, inspected books on the race and on the Panathenaic Stadium where the race ends. (For further information about the Nagano Commemorative Marathon, tel [+81] 2252.7687, e-mail: [email protected] Nagano Marathon Office: 1-3-8 Hakoshimizu, Nagano City, 380-0801, Japan.)