For many of the 4,796 finishers in today’s Japan Run 4M, the race marked the beginning of their Mother’s Day celebration. The annual race, now in its seventh year, is part of the family-friendly tradition of Japan Day @ Central Park.
For some moms, that meant cheering on their little ones in the Kids’ Races that followed the four-miler. For others, it meant their little ones finally cheering them on.
“This is the first time my kids have gotten up early and come to see me run, so that was very nice!” said Jeannette Pabon of Manhattan, who finished in 36:19. Her Mother’s Day plans? “First I ran, and now it’s time to eat some breakfast with my kids.”
The Ambassador and Counsel General of Japan in New York, Shigeyuki Hiroki, was on hand to welcome families like Pabon’s and invite them to share traditional and contemporary Japanese culture.
“We work here, we study here, and we live here together with the great New Yorkers, so today the Japanese community in New York can show our support and appreciation,” said Ambassador Hiroki. “This event started small, but is growing every year, and we would like to see even more people come out next year.”
Tad Takaya is one such member of the community helping the race to grow. A Japanese national who moved to New York City six months ago and now works as an agent in a Japanese travel business, Takaya saw an article about Japan Day and the Japan Run in a local Japanese paper and immediately went online to register.
“I run every weekend from Midtown to Central Park, and it’s always very nice, but this is my first time running in Central Park with NYRR,” he said. “I am just very happy to be here on Japan Day, and I hope to run the ING New York City Marathon this year.”
The mission of Japan Day @ Central Park is to build bridges of cultural understanding between the people of Japan and the United States. So it was fitting that Japanese culture was on full display, with some runners wearing anime-inspired costumes and young kids racing in full kabuki face paint.
After the race, runners and their friends and families crowded around the Bandshell stage hoping for a chance to win one of many fabulous raffle prizes, including several Nikon cameras and tickets to see the New York Mets at Citi Field. At the Japan Day cultural festival that followed, participants were invited to partake in Japanese customs like origami, calligraphy, and kabuki face painting, and sample Japanese cuisine such as miso soup, gyoza, and ramen.
The tradition of Mother’s Day fit right in with the festive atmosphere. “Of course we all love mothers,” said Hiroki, “and Central Park is the best place to share joy, fun, and the wonderful sunshine on Mother’s Day.”