Takuto Muguruma is the Event Director of Momoi harappa koen parkrun in Japan. After discovering parkrun while studying abroad, it was his dream to set up a parkrun when he moved back to Japan.
In 2014, I was studying sport development management for a Masters degree overseas and my tutor asked me, “Is there parkrun in Japan?” This was the first time I’d heard of parkrun!
I had particular interests in community sport and disability sport, so I thought I would try the parkrun that was local to where I was living at the time.
My first parkrun was on December 6 in 2014. It was really chilly weather, the big pond in the park was frozen, but there was a great energy and atmosphere created by the 150 or so parkrunners who ranged from high school students wearing running vests through to Grandpa and Grandma!
I found parkrun was very warm and friendly. Some of the parkrunners were interested in where I was from and what I was studying. As far as I could see there were no other Asian students amongst the parkrunners, so I was a bit unusual!
I loved parkrun immediately for that lovely atmosphere and the fact that everything was managed by volunteers, generating a real sense of community spirit and social contribution.
I enjoyed volunteering as well as parkrunning. Wearing my volunteer vest let me feel I was part of the local community, I just loved that!
I was studying sport development and parkrun was just a great example of sports inclusivity. It really resonated with me.
At that time, parkrun had not yet found its way to Japan so I emailed Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of parkrun, to ask about starting parkrun in Japan. However, I was just a student who did not have any connections to potential sponsors to help initiate parkrun in my home country. It seemed as if my idea and dream might have to wait a little longer.
After returning to Japan, I moved to Nishiogikubo in Tokyo. One of my cousins lived in the town and his apartment was my base for job hunting in Tokyo. Once I started a new job I continued to live in Nishiogikubo. My cousin is the owner of a local business and many of his customers are also my lovely friends that I knew before moving to study. So living in Nishiogikubo was a great choice and the town became my second hometown in Japan.
After starting my new job in Tokyo, the great memories of parkrun stayed with me. Then I got the fantastic news that parkrun was going to start in Japan. It made me think, “I am late!” I immediately contacted parkrun global to look to launching a parkrun event in Momoi harappa koen park.
The preparations for our parkrun launch were suspended for half a year by the coronavirus crisis. During this time I was able to build good relationships with other event directors including, Mr. Kobayashi in Hikarigaoka koen parkrun, and we kept our hopes up for our parkruns to be able to return soon.
Finally, Momoi harappa koen parkrun launched on November 21 in 2020 with great support from my cousin and our friends from his business. They are all still regular core volunteer members for the parkrun.
I got a happy, congratulatory message for our launching event from Paul Sinton-Hewitt, “Wow, how brilliant! That’s such lovely news!”
My dream of five years ago came true and I launched my own, local parkrun event! But, this parkrun is not mine, it is for the local people in Nishiogikubo, so if someone wants to be next event director I am very happy to pass the baton!
My hope is that our parkrun event will be loved for a long time and will appeal to everyone locally, of all ages and abilities.
The Coronavirus crisis is still upon us and life is far from normal, but I hope parkrun can be a source of energy and vitality for the people in my second hometown.
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