IML Walking in San Antonio and Yatsushiro

The Aussie Peace Walk is the only event of its type in Australia. But did you know that the Aussie Peace Walk has 28 sister events around the world?

Nov 13, 2023

Explore Countries and Cultures with IML and IVV Walking Events

Diana is one of several Australians who combine travel with similar multi-day walking events around the world. Enjoy her journey through these stories:

(Part 1) San Antonio, USA and Yatsushiro, Japan

These are the first two IML events in the year, and, despite their geographical distance, can be combined in one trip. Alternatively, you can always choose to spend more time exploring one country and just do a single event.

IML Walk in San Antonio, USA

Rather than going straight to the event location, we usually factor in some additional days to recover from any jetlag and do a little sightseeing along the way.

The flights into USA from Australia do not go directly to San Antonio, so we have broken our travel in either Los Angeles or Dallas. There are endless opportunities for sightseeing at either location. As avid parkrunners (parkwalkers!), we chose to do the free Parkrun event at Bear Creek Greenbelt near the Dallas airport. 

Our first visit to San Antonio was in February 2023, which coincided with them hosting an IVV Olympiad immediately prior to the IML Texas Trail Roundup (TTR) event. This was a one-off event, which will not be repeated in future years.

The TTR is an annual two-day event over the weekend, but activities start on Friday, with an optional 5km or 10km walk in the morning plus an opening ceremony in the afternoon. So, it’s probably best to arrive sometime on Thursday if possible.

An early arrival also allows time to do an exploratory walk to the start location and hopefully catch up with the event organisers if they are setting up the venue. 

Pictured right: San Antonio is home to the Alamo and Daniel Boone

“This is the first of a series of articles in which Diana will share some of her adventures and offer some tips along the way for others that might want to take on a similar global walking challenge.”

Being IML walkers, we elected to do the 21km walks on both days of the weekend, but shorter (and longer) distances are available.

On Saturday they bussed us out to the start of the walk and enjoyed a walk back to the finish, passing four of San Antonio’s Missions, which were built by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th century.

daniel boon

We also crossed several swing bridges and the trails were most enjoyable, with lots of green space. In contrast, the Sunday walk included much of the famous downtown San Antonio River Walk, plus a detour out to Brackenridge Park and the Japanese Gardens, so the route was much busier with other tourists, and included some steps too. The two routes were very different and complemented each other.

San Antonio is home to the Alamo and Daniel Boone and has a colourful Tex-Mex culture and delicious variety of foods. The TTR event coincides with the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo which is well worth a visit while in town. 

The TTR event is similar in size to the Aussie Peace Walk, so you will not be overwhelmed with the number of other participants. This also means that the routes can be quiet at times and it is important to look out for the directional markers.

The TTR team also provides participants with a map and written directions each day, and this proved very helpful in the urban areas where signs can go missing (or be missed). The event is well supported with snacks and drinks provided at the checkpoints along the way.

Background: San Antonio Brackenridge Park – choosing between the easy and more challenging crossing options.

Right: A squirrel on the San Antonio River Walk.

A squirrel on the San Antonio River Walk
Japanese island shrine - one of the interesting sights along the walk route
“Perhaps the best marked routes I have come across”

IML Walk in Yatsushiro, Japan

The IML event in Yatsushiro, Japan is very different to the one in San Antonio. For starters, English is not widely spoken in the area, but the event does have English-speaking volunteers to assist. This is also a three-day event, starting on Friday.

Kyushu International Three-Day March, Yatsushiro, Japan

The easiest way to get to Yatsushiro is via plane from Tokyo to Kumamoto, particularly if continuing on to this event directly from San Antonio. However, if you are planning to just do this event, then you could take a more leisurely train route stopping along the way at places like Kyoto or Hiroshima. 

Japan is a very safe country and everyone is very polite. International walkers are warmly welcomed, with a separate check in area.

We were there for the first international event post-COVID, so a few things were a little different for us. There was no Welcome Party in 2023, but every day after the walks concluded there was a variety of entertainment on the outdoor stage.

Bento lunch box

The drummers on Sunday afternoon were a highlight (below). We also took the option of pre-purchasing the bento lunch boxes which were a welcome treat after each day’s walk. 

The walks in Yatsushiro are well supported by local participants and they are perhaps the best marked routes I have come across, with huge arrows to show every turn and event flags all along the way – you would really have to work hard to get lost on this walk! 

We walked the 20km routes each day, which covered a large area ranging from small scale agriculture to areas that had been reclaimed from the seas.

There were some substantial sea walls that had been erected to protect the surrounding villages. All walks were mostly on flat terrain, although some of the longer routes may have ventured further into the surrounding hillside.

One of the novel aspects of this walk is spotting all the Kumamon bear mascots that are scattered across the city, plus the attractive manhole covers. We also walked through the grounds of the old Yatsushiro Castle, which is now a public park. 

Diana with a Kumamon bear
High energy drummers on the final afternoon of the event
Walking around the world

IML Walking Tips

Always check the start location for the walks, as it may change from year to year.

Accommodation near (or at) the start location can avoid the need for a rental car or costly taxi fares. The cost of parking at some hotels can also be very expensive and there is generally no need for a car while the event is in progress.

There are usually buses that can get you from the airport to your hotel. 

For example, the Yatsushiro Grand Hotel is one of the shuttle stops from the airport to avoid the dreaded bag drag – but make sure you ask for a non-smoking room to avoid unwanted odours in your room.

Don’t be in a hurry to leave. If possible, stay overnight on the last day of the event so that you can enjoy the closing ceremony and not have to check out in the morning before your walk.

If travelling from San Antonio to Texas, an overnight flight can save a night’s transit accommodation in Tokyo, but be sure to allow ample time for any internal connecting flights.

Trail shoes/boots are useful at some events, but these two events are largely on hard surfaces, so a pair of good supporting sandshoes will be sufficient. They are also pretty flat, so hiking poles are not really needed.

Check the long range weather forecast. Both events are heading out of winter, but it can still get pretty warm. Layers are advisable.

Have something to identify you as an Australian – a flag is ideal. This will encourage others to start a conversation while you are walking.

Both events are IML and IVV accredited, so don’t forget your IML and IVV passports.

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