This edition of our Member Spotlight features Charity Miles member Shinichiro Tanaka! Next week Shin will depart for a 1,000-mile walk around the Japanese island of Shikoku. Check it out!
“I was born in Japan and lived in Kyoto until the age of 6. I moved to Seattle, WA, and spent my elementary and middle school time there. I lived in Ohio during my high school years. I went to Sophia University for my undergraduate course studying International Economics and Business. I did post-graduate studies at the University of Warwick in England for 1 year. So… I guess you could say I’m culturally half Japanese and half American? I currently tutor mathematics.”
On June 2nd Shin will embark on a journey around the island of Shikoku. Situated just south of the main island of Honshu, Shikoku is known for its 88 temple pilgrimage route. “Part of the reason I came back to Japan was to explore my roots. This Shikoku Pilgrimage is one way to see a part of Japan most people never see! I also enjoy walking and exploring in general. I’m doing a 10-million-step challenge this year! I’m currently almost at 4,000,000 steps taken and 3000km covered on foot. I’ve also biked about 2000km! Plenty of people bike, drive or take public transportation but walking will allow me to interact with locals which can be the most memorable part of any walk!”
“I will start at my Grandma’s house! It just happens to be very close to the starting temple. I will go visit my grandma and tell her “I’m going on a walk see you in a bit!” I plan to walk about 35-40km (about 22 to 25 miles) per day. This would put me at about 1600km (995 miles) over 42 days. Google Maps sometimes underestimates distances in my experience so we’ll see!”
Shin plans to spend most nights sleeping on the street, with the occasional hotel stay to rest and recharge. “I also plan to do bodyweight workouts every day. I figured I want to make it feel like a tough pilgrimage so I’d add in a bit of extra. Typhoons might also make walking on some days difficult!”
When asked what inspired him to take on this incredible task, Shin responded, “I just simply like exploring and this combined with walking just seems to be my kind of travel. I find walking to be meditative and relaxing. I believe oftentimes that travel these days tends to be a scheduled rush from a tourist location to a tourist location. These are the highlights of wherever you might be and I don’t believe that observing the outliers of a country gives you a true feel of everyday life for locals. This is why I choose to walk. I get to see everything “normal” between all these special locations and this I feel allows me to appreciate each “tourist location” even more! Furthermore, walking keeps my carbon footprint (during walks or this year) extremely low because I don’t use any form of transportation!”
Wondering how Shin is preparing for the journey? “I have done previous walks where I walked with extra weights in my backpack. The hardest one-day walk I have ever done was 75km with a 23kg backpack after a few days of walking already… what was I thinking? That being said, I have taken a long time to work up to what I do now. At first, my feet would get swollen but now, I don’t really feel much down there in my shoes.”
Shin was introduced to Charity Miles after a simple Google search while prepping for his pilgrimage. “My father is a cancer researcher so I’ve always been exposed to the idea of giving to charity and contributing. I was looking for a way to contribute to the distances I’m covering this year and looked up charity walks on Google. There it was… Charity Miles!” Shin plans to fundraise for Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, his hard-earned miles benefitting children in need.
You can follow Shin’s amazing journey on social media. “I will be updating my Instagram every few hours during my walk @epicwalkswithshin! These updates will include pictures of temples, food (I will have to eat quite a bit as you can imagine), and much more! Please feel free to message me during my walks! Or if you have any questions! I love a good chat whatever it might be about!”
“I will be collecting several sets of temple calligraphy signatures along the way. These signatures are given to pilgrims in exchange for donations at the temple. This is how the temple collects money to maintain itself. At the end of the journey, I am going to give away 1 set (each signature individually) to people who follow my journey on Instagram. It’s my way of saying thanks for the supportive comments and to everyone following along! Furthermore, I want people to have a unique little piece of Japan!”
“What I would recommend to anyone wishing to take on any such task is to ramp up slowly and enjoy! Walking is more about enjoying the environment you are in. Enjoy the environment and your legs will carry you a long way!”
Upon completion of his journey, Shin has big plans for the coming year. “A few potential goals I have for next year (still choosing): I want to do 110km a day which would end up being about the circumference of the earth after a year. I also want to run every day starting at 3.3km, ramping up 5% each week until I’m running a marathon a day on the last week of the year!”
You can keep up with Shin’s pilgrimage on Instagram @epicwalkswithshin. Remember to follow for your chance to win your own calligraphy set authentic from Shikoku!
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