Sure, you may ride the Yamanote line on a daily basis, but have you actually run (or walked!) the whole loop? See the city in a completely different light while raising funds for Tohoku on May 30.

By Vivian Morelli

The annual Tokyo Yamathon is indeed the “ultimate urban fundraising challenge”: teams of three or four people compete to walk or run through Tokyo, visiting all 29 stations of the famous JR Yamanote train line in under 12 hours. In other words, should your team accept the challenge and join the Tokyo Yamathon, you’ll follow/drag each other around Tokyo’s Yamanote line, stopping at each of its 29 stations to take a picture for proof, in the process earning money for this year’s chosen NPO, Nadia.

The rules are simple: it’s open to everyone (as long as you can walk/run an approximate distance of 38 kilometers—it’s further if you get lost!), and teams of 3 or 4 people must raise ¥10,000 as a registration fee, which will entirely go towards helping Tohoku making a full recovery from The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 2011.

“Nadia is a wonderful set of people who have big hearts and who have brought so much good to Tohoku. We wanted to partner with them because of their passion for Tohoku, their commitment to Tohoku, and their ability and enthusiasm to bring Tohoku to Tokyo on our event day,” explains Tokyo Yamathon’s Fundraising Events Director Joe Pournovin. “Nadia are not only receiving the money, they are our partners in this. We are working together to bring Tohoku to Tokyo. Nadia will partner with Playground of Hope, in which much of the money will be used to build a playground for a pre-school in Rikuzentakata.”

Since its inception in 2010, the Tokyo Yamathon itself has been an all-volunteer run event. “We’re just passionate people coming together who want to do something good and really give back. We are a team who have jobs in many different sectors, but we work late into the night, to create something unique, and to be a part of something so special,” says Mr. Pournovin. Part of the work includes visiting 16 police stations to ensure they get police clearance, promoting the event, obtaining sponsorship and coordinating around a hundred volunteers on the day.

In addition to raising money, the Tokyo Yamathon is also an opportunity to see a handful of Tokyo landmarks and places you don’t normally visit in the city, all in one day. And if the word “marathon” makes you squirm, don’t sweat it, you can also walk. While the actual Yamathon participants must be over 18 to hit all the stations, the event is for the whole family, so you can head out to the Tokyo Tokia venue (a 3-minute walk from Tokyo Station), where an all-day extravaganza will take place: a Taiko group, Okinawan music, cheerleaders, free massages, Tohoku markets, a Tohoku exhibition and an imagination playground for the kids will keep you entertained.

“This is our day to bring Tohoku to Tokyo and we want as many people as possible to come down and join the fun,” adds Mr. Pournovin. You still have time to register with your team, and if you don’t wish to walk or run, you can volunteer on the day. Anyone who has taken the challenge before will know about the rivalry and camaraderie that is fostered between teams, on top of all the entertainment taking place during the day and following the arrival at the finish line.

So lace up those sneakers, get inspired and join in the fun!

Tokyo Yamathon

More information & registration: