Jason moved to Japan in 2002 with the intention of staying for a year while working as a teacher and doing some casual traveling. One year turned into two, then three and, in the end, Jason never left and has been living in Tokyo ever since. He claims that Japan, and the capital in particular, always manages to provide him with interesting career opportunities while delivering fun and stable and interesting lifestyle at the same time. Which bring us to Jason’s lifelong hobby – cycling.
The “Eki Hunt” (eki meaning a station in Japanese) started as a whim side project that evolved into something much, much bigger. Prior to it, he’s been cycling around some parts of Tokyo on a daily basis and he would sometimes send selfies to his friends or girlfriend at the time to simply show where he was and taking a picture with a train station’s sign was the most efficient way to show his whereabouts. And that was when the idea sprung into his mind. After some suggestions to start an Instagram account or e-diary about it, Jason decided upon a customized, meticulously documented cross between a Google map and a blog, where he could, after some tinkering, pinpoint the locations and add a photo and a short entry to each one of them.
He pledged to take a selfie with each Tokyo rain, monorail, subway, etc. station and after some counting and route-planning, he realized that the final number read a stunning 727. As Jason told We Love Cycling: “What started as kind of a funny project that I wasn’t sure I would follow through became a more serious endeavour. I completely underestimated how many stations there were and how long and how far I would have to cycle to complete it. But about halfway through, I committed to finishing within a calendar year. I finished with a few weeks to spare.” That’s what we call dedication.
Each route on the MAP is colour coded and the entry contains (besides the selfie) useful tips about restaurants, parks, cultural activities or leisure spots nearby, along with funny or cautionary stories that happened to Jason in that respective area. Unintentionally, you can also track how his beard progresses and disappears. All in all, Jason cycled about 2,340 km. You would say that one might be satisfied with such a result for a bit, but not Jason – as he’s exhausted Tokyo, he started the second Eki Hunt chapter in the neighbouring prefectures of Saitama and Kanagawa with the same intention; visiting every existing railed transport station within them.
As for motivation, Jason was quite frank: “First, I love exploring and finding interesting places. Second, it’s great for overall health to be out riding. Third, it became a challenge that I wanted to accomplish because I’m not sure if anyone had ever done it before. Finally, there was surely at least a small element of pride.”
You can take it as a universal set of golden rules for your own cycling adventures.