Chiba: Watermelon is the most beloved summer fruit in Japan.
Tomisato, the Japanese town in Chiba Prefecture, is well known for growing high-quality watermelons.
Since the last 36 years, Tomisato has been organizing this festival to celebrate the watermelon harvest. Visitors from all across Japan come here to run and enjoy the fruit.
“Today we highlight our local specialty– watermelon during this road race. At the water stations, the runners can hydrate with sports drinks and can eat watermelons. And after the race, they can go to the tents and grab free watermelons as much as they want,” said Akira Takemoto, a runner in the race.
Some of the runners and spectators also take full advantage of the watermelon theme by dressing in green, red, and black.
Runners bravely put on their best impression of watermelons such as the unique costumes.
“During the Showa era a watermelon from Tomisato was presented to the Emperor and it received recognition for its quality. That’s how our watermelons became famous all over Japan and now there are still 350 watermelon farms in the town. In terms of total size, there are about 250 hectares that grow up this fruit,” said Yujiro Takayama, another runner.
Some of the participants also take away watermelons back to their home as souvenirs.
“The Tomisato watermelons are sweet and delicious. The road race covered a distance of 10 kilometers. I’m also glad it did not rain,” said a third runner.
The race had different levels to suit all age groups, making it a family event.
Children and adults competed in different competitions. Winners received a figurine symbolizing the Tomisato road race, named Tomichan.
The town promotes a healthy lifestyle, including exercises and nutrition, through their mascot Tomichan.