Nordic Walking “Spring Exchange 2014 in Tōno’’: a pleasant promenade through nature down the “New Oku no Hosomichi”

On May 28th, a day bathed in early summer sunlight, the Iwate prefecture branch office organized its 2014 edition “Spring Exchange” in the Tsuchibuchi district within the municipality of Tōno. All 90 participants got to enjoy the lush greenery that serves as a backdrop for the New Oku no Hosomichi road (a section of the Tōhoku Nature Trail spanning around 3.1km).

The Red Cross Volunteer Corps coastal team has hosted regular Nordic Walking workshops since November 2011 – post Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami – for residents of temporary housing built by the local government. The events have accommodated over 2500 participants in total over 248 times sessions as of March 2014. The biannual event – held in the Spring and Autumn – aims to raise the spirits of people living in affected coastal areas through exercise; it gives participants the opportunity to explore the rich countryside that lies just inland of their homes.

This was the third time that the Spring Exchange was hosted by the municipality of Tōno, and the event attracted around 60 participants living in temporary housing (located in the neighboring municipalities of Rikuzentakata, Ōfunato and Ōtsuchi). Some 30 local members of the Red Cross Volunteer Corps also partook in the day’s promenade. A cool breeze and glorious sunshine accompanied contestants as each walked at his or her own leisurely pace. “I had knee replacement surgery done on my left leg, but I like to walk so I was happy to get some exercise,” said one participant from the Rikuzentakata. “I always look forward to this event,” said another with a smile on his face.