language switcher

Japanese Tradition (English)

Hoping for the revival of the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon

Hoping for the revival of the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon
Sponsored Links

Do you know that there used to be an event called "Rocket Marathon" in Tanegashima Island?

It was a grueling course that started in Nishinoomote City in the northern part of Tanegashima and ran along a route with steep elevation differences, but the goal point was the Tanegashima Central Center.

Many volunteers and yosakoi dancing were performed at the finish line, making it a very exciting marathon.

In addition to the full marathon, there were also half marathon, 10 km, and 3 km options, and winners were awarded according to age as well as gender, making it a festival that even marathon beginners could easily participate in.

I am writing this article to pray for the revival of this rocket marathon, and I hope you will read it to the end.

On Hoping for the Revival of the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon

Although it is no longer held, there used to be an event called the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon.

The event started in Nishinoomote City with a gunshot from a flintlock arquebus (the arquebus is called a flintlock arquebus, not a starting arquebus for track and field events).

The Rocket Marathon was held for the first time in 2015, and participants were able to run through the Tanegashima Space Center with a beautiful view of the space rocket launch pad in the background.

There are several distances to choose from, including a full marathon (42.195km) and a half marathon (21.0975km), and participants range from ordinary runners to those involved in the rocket launch industry. Surfing photographers are also waiting near the finish line.

The course near the finish line before the athletes arrive, and because it is on Tanegashima, traffic is sparse.

The officials are stationed at various places, but the marathon course on Tanegashima is hard anyway, characterized by steep elevation differences and probably not capable of setting any Japanese records.


Near the goal of the Rocket Marathon on Tanegashima Island1

The goal of the Rocket Marathon is the Tanegashima Space Center

The goal is the Tanegashima Space Center in Minami-Tanegi-cho, 42.195 km away, so the course runs almost the entire length of Tanegashima Island.

Starting point of the Rocket Marathon


Rocket Marathon starting point

Photographers will move from the starting point to the finish line first to greet the runners.

Near the finish line, the biggest and most difficult obstacle of this marathon, "Datche's Hill," awaits the runners.

Datche's Hill" is the most difficult hill in Minami-Tane Town, where you can climb and climb and still climb! After crossing the hill, the runners will reach the goal point, the Tanegashima Space Center.

What is "Datche's Hill" in Minamitane Town, the difficult part of the Rocket Marathon?

In fact, the origin of the name "Datche's Slope" is not well understood even after research.

Datche is an inn where Ryoma Sakamoto is said to have stayed, and it is located in the Hamamachi district in the center of Nagasaki City. The name of the inn is "Holland House Ryokan," also known as "Datche Ryokan," but it is located in Nagasaki and does not seem to be directly related to Tanegashima.

For reference, Datche's Slope in Nagasaki is about 700 meters long and is known as one of the precious sightseeing spots where the history of exchange between the Dutch trading post and the Tanegashima Clan remains. It is also a valuable spot where visitors can see historical buildings and ruins, and is now famous as a sightseeing spot in Nagasaki City with restaurants and souvenir shops.

Datche's Slope in Nagasaki is said to have come to be called "Datche's Slope" because of the Dutch people who used this slope to come and go between the Dutch trading post and the Tanegashima clan, but the situation of Datche's Slope in Tanegashima is quite different from that of Nagasaki.

I assume that the Datche's Slope in Tanegashima was so called because it is probably similar to the Datche's Slope in Nagasaki, but it is considered the most difficult point of the Rocket Marathon.

Also, there are no houses or restaurants on this slope, it is just a winding mountain road, and the ascent is very long.

Since many runners in the Rocket Marathon drop out on this slope, this is also where water stations and first-aid teams are stationed.

The final goal, just before the Space Center, is also an uphill climb, and the participants must use all their strength and energy to run up this hill.

The photo shows the final ascent just before the Space Center.

Some participants run with their parents and children. The Rocket Marathon is open to participants of all ages, including children as young as elementary school students, and fathers can run the full marathon and their children can run together from the 3 km starting point at the end of the marathon.

Once you climb this last hill, you are almost to the finish line.

Young men running the full marathon appeared one after another.

A woman from the PR department of a certain organization, whom I have seen on live rocket broadcasts, was also running.

She is indeed the PR lady of Tanegashima. Even though she was in the middle of a full marathon, she smiled at the suspicious surf photographer (that was me). Thank you very much.

Of course, there are many dishes on the menu, so it's not a dream come true for the elderly to win!

The Tanegashima Rocket Marathon is characterized by its variety.

First of all, the marathon is ranked according to age and gender, so it is possible for runners in their 50s and 60s to win the marathon.

You can choose from full marathon, half marathon, half, 10 km, 5 km, and 3 km distances, so you can run (or walk) at your own pace according to your fitness level, and you will receive a certificate of completion within 8 hours of starting the race.

The program is truly diverse, and I don't think any other marathon offers such a wide variety of programs.

There's a finish line tape for everyone

Except in the case of a large number of people rushing to the finish line together, they basically provide a finish line tape for each person. What a thoughtful thing to do.

The famous Tanegashima shochu (a specialty of Tanegashima) is given out as a prize before the race

Participants will be given a prize in advance.

In general marathons, only numbers are given out and the entry fee is 10,000 yen, but the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon is different.

The contents change from year to year, but the standard items include a special T-shirt and towel, space food, local Anno sweet potatoes (small potatoes), ice sugar and udon noodles (when do you eat them?), rice balls, bottled tea, and sports drinks to nourish the runners during the race.

It is truly a participation prize with no intention of making money.

As was well-known in the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon, a PET bottle of shochu (which can be drunk straight from the bottle) was also included among these items.

Of course, you are not supposed to drink shochu before running, but there are many stories of runners unknowingly spitting it out of their mouths.

Of course, runners are informed of this beforehand at the start of the race, but it seems that there are some who have not heard about it.

After finishing the race, runners relax in the shade under the rockets at the Tanegashima Space Center, eating their lunch with their friends and family who were waiting for them at the finish line.


Near the Rocket Marathon goal on Tanegashima Island11

Marathon will be held even if it rains

The marathon will go ahead even if it rains.

Inside the tent, the winners of each division are standing by, waiting to be determined, up to the third place finisher.

This is a picture taken when the race was decided in heavy rain.


Rainy Rocket Marathon 0

As soon as the third place is confirmed, there will be an award ceremony.

Even though it is on Tanegashima Island, the top three finishers are quite a record, and many of them come all the way from the inner city.

Even in the middle of the awards ceremony, people were arriving at the finish line one after another.

It was refreshing to see the smiling faces of the full marathon participants in the rain. I remember that the person who had beaten the second-place finisher by about 30 minutes (too much) was the one who had to wait a long time for the award ceremony.

You can leave your luggage, including a change of clothes for the marathon, at the starting point, and a bus will bring it to the finish line, so you can change after the finish even if it rains. (The red bag is your checked luggage.)


Women's Division Full Marathon Winner

Volunteers supporting the Rocket Marathon in heavy rain

Of course, they are local junior high and high school students. I was bowled over by their energetic efforts even in the heavy rain.

Of course, they are local junior high and high school students. I was bowled over by their energetic efforts even in the heavy rain.

The girls are cheerful and happy.

The goalkeeper is a volunteer wearing a kappa. They are very impressive.


Volunteers at the Rainy Rocket Marathon8

Local yosakoi teams also come out to the finish line

Yosakoi teams also dance in the heavy rain.

The photo is of Nakatane Town's Yosakoi KING, and a small number of people from Minamitane Town also participated.

I regret that I did not take many pictures of the dancing, as my camera was not fully rain-proofed at the time.


Rainy Rocket Marathon Yosakoi 9

Normally, I would not dance in the rain, but in Tanegashima, it is possible. I respect the girls who are doing their best.

The downpour in Tanegashima was terrible, but the Yosakoi members did their best.

Awards for the Rocket Marathon will be given out soon

There are various courses to participate in, and the placings are based on age and gender, but once there are three winners, an awards ceremony will be held for each participating course, and quickly.

The Fresh Tanegashima of the year prepares the award certificates. (It is a pity that there were not enough photos taken at that time due to heavy rain and equipment that was not good enough.)

In fact, I hope that Fresh Tanegashima will be revived.

The full marathon entry fee is about 4,000 yen, and the organizers must be completely in the red!

With 4,000 yen to give out so many participation prizes, I feel that the organizers are completely in the red.

The operating costs are borne by one city and two towns every year, including Nishinoomote City, Nakatane Town, and Minamitane Town, as well as by the police, fire department, and sponsors.

Local junior high and high school student volunteers also participated in the event to support the Rocket Marathon, but the number of participants has decreased every year.

The fact that participants from outside Tanegashima had to pay extra for transportation and lodging to the island may have also contributed to the decline in the number of participants.

The Rocket Marathon closed in 2018 with its 30th edition

The Tanegashima Marathon has been announced as a result of the decline in the number of participants, such as the Kagoshima Marathon now being held, and the difficulty in securing operating expenses for each municipality.

It is tough to say that municipalities cannot secure budgets. It is unfortunate.

Summary of Hoping for the Revival of the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon

We are hoping that the special demand for Umagejima will bring back the Rocket Marathon, but the reality is that it will not be easy.

Nevertheless, if there is a chance to increase the number of participants, the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon may be able to be revived.

We are looking forward to the revival of the Tanegashima Rocket Marathon.
Thank you for reading to the end.

Sponsored Links

-Japanese Tradition (English)