Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Gary Kuroyama Walks Liliuokalani Gardens

Daily walking around Liliuokalani Gardens
Daily walking around Liliuokalani Gardens

There are days when I drive into Hilo to run errands, attend various meetings or to just have lunch with friends.  Often I find gaps in my schedule and I find myself with some free time on my hands.

My favorite way of filling that open period of time is to visit Liliuokalani Gardens and to walk laps around the park.

Not only is this a good way for me to burn some unwanted calories it is also a relaxing method of putting in some additional mileage while taking in the beauty of nature.

We are so fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.  The view from Liliuokalani Gardens is absolutely breathtaking.  Mauna Kea, Hilo Bay, the Gardens itself are all reasons for me to be grateful to be alive.

What’s equally as impressive is the amount of people who take advantage of the area by walking, jogging or biking around the park.  There are couples holding hands while walking, grandparents taking their grandchildren to lunch, mothers jogging around with their baby strollers, all taking in the beauty that surrounds us.

For quite some time now I’ve been seeing this young, senior citizen, walking laps around the park covered from head to toe.  It can be 80 degrees out and he is walking with a jacket, a towel wrapped around his neck and a cap on his head.

On one of my recent trips around the park I decided to stop and talk with him so that I could satisfy my growing curiosity.

Turns out that his name is Gary Kuroyama, a retired state employee who worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, who is married with two children.

“As you can see, I am covered up,” he told me when we first met.  “I like to sweat when I walk.  It makes me feel good.”

Kuroyama started walking about five years ago and now he does it almost every day.  “I started walking after retirement because I found myself to be at about 175 pounds which is a bit much for my 5’ 6” frame, he said.

Kuroyama will go to the park each day, between 10 am and 2 pm because he enjoys the heat and during that time it provides him the type of workout that he is looking for. “I try to go and walk anywhere from 10 to 20 laps around the park each day,” Kuroyama said.

Now, for those readers that don’t know, one lap around Liliuokalani Gardens is 1K or .6 of a mile and when Kuroyama says he’s doing 10 to 20 laps we’re talking about 6 to 12 miles each day.

Kuroyama also adds lots of stretching to his daily walks.  Doing some gentle stretching prior to his walk and then stretching the key muscle groups after his walk.

When asked if the repetition of walking laps around the park can get boring, Kuroyama replied, “I never get bored walking around the park because of the view.  You get to see the mountains, sometimes snowcapped, the ocean and the greenery of the park.”

“From time to time some people, including my wife, have joined me walking laps around the park.  But most of the time I will walk alone,” he said.  “I can feel the tranquility of the park and feel the cool ocean breeze all at the same time.  The park is also a very beautiful and safe place to be at.”

Kuroyama, who was born and raised in Hilo, tried his hand at little league baseball as a youngster before moving onto judo at age 10.

In 1964 he received his black belt, 1st degree in judo, which allowed him to become an instructor in the sport.

A 1965 graduate of Hilo High School Kuroyama doesn’t really watch what he eats, except for one basic rule.  “I try to stay away from fatty foods or eat them only in moderation,” he said.

Today Kuroyama is a 5th degree black belt in judo as he recently was awarded the rank of Godan.  He serves as the Head Instructor of the Hilo Hongwanji Judo Club and has instructed literally hundreds of students, many of whom are prominent in our community.

In 2006 Kuroyama was inducted in to the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame for his years of service to the community in his instruction of his favorite sport, judo.

“Exercise is important to me because it keeps me healthy,” he said.

For those just starting out with a walking routine Kuroyama offers the following advice, “It is important to not over do it in the beginning, but to take it one step at a time.”

“Some people like to run or jog, for me; I just love to walk for the exercise,” Kuroyama said.

“I’d like to be able to keep on walking for as long as I can.”

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June 22, 2009 - Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , ,

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