translated by Brett Larner
Click photo for larger image.
A three-time world record setter known as 'The Father of Japanese Marathoning,' Shizo Kanaguri (1891-1983) has been honored with a board game depicting his life. The game is available for sale at the Kokoropia Historical Museum in his hometown of Tamana, Kumamoto.
Kanaguri was born in Nagomi, Kumamoto. While a student at the Tokyo High School Teachers College (now Tsukuba Univ.) in 1911, he set a world record of 2:32:45 while running a domestic qualification race for the Olympic games and became Japan's first Olympic marathoner. He continued competing professionally until age 33 and after his retirement continued his leadership, helping to spread the marathon throughout the country, serving on the Hakone Ekiden organizing committee, taking part in the Kyushu Isshu Ekiden, and running the 1200 km between Shimonoseki and Tokyo. In later years he lived in Tamana, encouraging the town's children to take up running. In 1962 the town honored Kanaguri as its most distinguished citizen.
The board game measures 52 cm by 73 cm and is designed to teach children about Kanaguri's life and accomplishments. From start to finish there are 91 squares. From "Third Marathon World Record (age 23)" to "Running From Sakhalin to Tokyo in 20 Days (age 31)" and beyond, children can enjoy themselves as they follow in the great man's footsteps and learn from his example. Along the way they will learn his secrets, including eating the crusts of his morning bread while getting ready to set a new record in the Olympics or in an overseas marathon, and training on hard stone surfaces because there was no asphalt in Japan.
The museum features 680 items from Kanaguri's estate which were donated by surviving members of his family. A museum administrator commented, "We hope that hearing about a great person from their town will inspire the local children to follow their own dreams." The board game is available for 200 yen. For more information contact the museum at 0968-74-3989.
Translator's note: Stories like this make doing this blog worth it.