The Japan Society

Ekiden 駅伝

Ekiden is a long-distance multi-stage relay race in Japan. The first Ekiden was held in 1917 as a 3-day, 23-stage run from Kyoto to Tokyo covering over 500km. It was a celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Tokyo's establishment as the nation's capital after it was moved from Kyoto.

Since then its popularity has become widespread; schools, universities, and companies in Japan will often hold ekiden races annually and teamwork is a very important part of the race. The most famous is the Hakone Ekiden which celebrated its 100 year anniversary in January 2024 and inspired the inaugural UK Ekiden 2024!


The Japan Society Ekiden Activity Pack

Download our Ekiden Activity to learn a bit more about the race and for some fun activities. It includes a kanji writing exercise, a tasuki design activity, and a short quiz with fun facts about the race and Japan!

Ekiden Activity Pack



Organise your Own Ekiden Race!

The inaugural UK Ekiden was held on Monday 24 June. UK Ekiden encouraged schools in the UK to be a part of the special race by holding their own mini-ekiden on the same day. Hosting an ekiden is would be a fun way for schools to learn about Japan through a Japanese sporting tradition.

Download the guide for schools from UK Ekiden for suggestions on how schools can host their own mini-ekiden, suitable for their students and surrounding environment. The guide also provides more information on the history and tradition of Ekiden races in Japan.  

UK Ekiden website:
Contact UK Ekiden for more info: 

Learn more about Japan

The Japan Society has a range of resources for about Japan suitable for both classroom and at home learning. Visit our Education section to learn more!