If like me you are struggling to shift those few extra pounds picked up over the winter, you may be looking at the coming summer months and wanting to get back into shape before you hit the beach. There are plenty of ways you can do this. You could head to one of the city’s excellent public swimming pools, you could join a gym, but if you are more of an outdoorsy type, maybe you would prefer to go for a run.
Here are a few ideas for places at which to stretch your legs and shift those extra pounds.
Attractive, close to Sakae and relatively small, the track that runs around Meijo Park is absolutely ideal for no fuss, straightforward jogging, particularly for shorter distances. The track that skirts the park is about 1km with distance markings meaning that as you go round you can track your progress, and being mostly in the shade, it is ideal for avoiding the summer heat. It also has some pretty good facilities, including a workout area with parallel bars, a pull-up bar and a bench for sit ups (all found in a small children’s play area at the north of the park), as well as lockers and showers. on the downside, the track gets really crowded on weekends, particularly in the mornings.
Tsuruma means “where water runs”, but that’s not all that runs in Tsuruma park. Like the aforementioned Meijo Park, this is very much ideal for urban joggers. As well as having charming gardens and the beautiful cherry blossom trees, there are excellent public transport connections, with both JR and subway lines serving it, giving you no excuse to not go! The path that skirts the park is 2km, which gives it a greater scope for running than Meijo, but if you find that a little bit daunting you can also run around the paths inside the park, finding a route that matches your needs. However, be careful of pedestrians with cell phones in hand as they may stop abruptly to catch Pokemon…
In the north of the city, Shonai Ryokuchi Park as one of the city’s largest parks it gives you a real opportunity to stretch your legs without feeling that you are just running in endless circles. There are two main routes around the park, one that is 1.8km and another that is 2.3km, but should you wish there are many paths that zig-zag around, that will take you past fountains and ponds, and through the BBQ areas. There is also an athletics track that is sometimes open to the public, should you wish to time yourself on shorter distances or sprints. Keep an eye out for cyclists who also have use of the tracks.
Also known at various points as the Toki River and Tamano River, the Shonai River (Shonaigawa) has many beautiful areas along which to run. In places it is lined by cherry blossoms, and in other areas you may see cormorants drying their feathers in the morning sun. Having come down from Gifu via Kasugai, the river skirts the north of the city before heading past Biwajima and out to the port. Find a stretch of river nearest you, and run along it as far as you can.
If you find the above parks a little busy and are looking for a place to run with a little bit more peace and quiet, you can do worse than following the Inchimanpo course that runs through Heiwa Koen (Peace Park). Along with the relative quiet, this run is a little more arduous as it takes you through some unsurfaced sections, so it’s not one for beginners. However, if you do like heading off road and picking your own path, it could be right up your street, if you’ll excuse the pun. If you enjoy this route, then you may also want to check out the forrest around the Higashiyama Zoo.
Okay, so this is not one for the faint of heart, we are dealing in real endurance stuff here. The Tokai Shizen Hodo (Tokai Nature Trail) is a long distance walking trail that connects Tokyo and Osaka. At around 1000km, it is unlikely that you can do it all in one sitting (and if you can, let’s get you signed up for the Olympics now), but it is well worth finding parts along which you can run. It follows through beautiful countryside, through gorgeous old towns, while still offering some challenging terrain and mountains. The trail passes through Seto and Kasugai, amongst others, so they may be good places to start, but make sure you know how to get back, unless you want to run all the way to Osaka!
By Mark Guthrie