The Mt. Hiei 50k International Trail Run is a wonderful event hosted just outside of Kyoto, Japan in late spring. The 50k course is challenging with over 11,000 feet of climbing, on steep, technical trails through the dense forests of Mt. Hiei.
Mt. Hiei is home to the Tendai Buddhist monks, also known as the marathon monks, since they incorporate running as part of their spiritual practice. The monks are very supportive of the race, leading a prayer at the start, and welcoming runners at the finish.
The place has a very unique, calm atmosphere inspired by the beauty of the land, the shrines and temples runners pass by and the palpable serenity the monks emanate.
I was fortunate to take part in the 2016 race and am ever so thankful to Hisao Takenaka and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki for this opportunity and their immense generosity.
The following is a selection of photos from the race by Shimpei Koseki that I find perfectly capture the feel of the event. If you are considering a trip to Japan, I would highly recommend adding the Mt. Hiei 50k to your list.