Getting fit – The Best Places to Run in Tokyo

ByMark Guthrie
Feb 27, 2017

Getting fit – The Best Places to Run in Tokyo

A jogger near the Imperial Palace

If like me you have gained a few extra pounds over the winter – Christmas and the various new year festivities will do that to you – you may be thinking of the coming summer months and wanting to get back into shape. 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.

Of course Tokyo is very much a concrete city, but there are still some lovely places at which you can go jogging. Here are a few ideas for places at which to stretch your legs and shift those extra pounds.

Yoyogi Park

If you like a spot of people watching as you run then Yoyogi park is a great place to start. While on weekends it can be pretty busy, particularly in the summer months with picnickers, aside from the no-running area surrounding Meiji Shrine, there is plenty of room to jog freely on the ground’s spacious, green lawns. On top of that, the large, leafy trees offer a decent amount of shade from the hot sun. It’s easy to get to, and open 24 hours, meaning you can work up a sweat, no matter the time of year, and there are shower facilities should you want to head out into Harajuku after your workout.
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Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is a great place to run for those just starting out. It has a 5km loop and the route is well marked, so you can easily track your time and distance. Like Yoyogi park there are facilities such as lockers and changing spaces surrounding the area, but it is pretty open to the elements, which makes it pretty hard going in the summer. Still, it’s a pretty beautiful place to run.
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Meguro River

There is little more relaxing for the mind than running alongside a river. This four kilometer-long route winds through the city making it a great course for inner-city runners, particularly in the springtime when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. However, be careful not to get too relaxed and run head first into a group of hanami-spotters!
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Arakawa

For experienced runners, Arakawa is the site of the Arakawa Marathon in March, meaning you can go on and on and on, should you so wish. It is described as being ‘pancake flat’ and there are few obstacles other than fellow runners and the odd cyclist. For those wanting to challenge themselves for distance, this is a run for you.
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Tamagawa River

Another lengthy run along a river, the Tamagawa stretch has a whopping 48km to its name. The scenery is stunning and as there are no cars, you can fully enjoy the wide open spaces and admire the river. Another advantage is that there are plenty of train stations along the route, meaning that should you over stretch on the distance, you can easily get back home.
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Mt. Kumotori Ascent

Now this route is a bit on the hardcore side. Okay, more than a bit. Mt. Kumotori is Tokyo’s tallest peak at a height of 2,017 meters and is most frequently populated by mountaineers and animals such as deer, wild boar, monkeys and, possibly bears. However it has become popular for runners wanting to get right off the beaten track. Those who think they can take it are recommended to stay the night along the trail to really get the most out of the experience, oh and to travel in a group, because should you get injured, it’s a long hobble back to the car. Should you feel you’ve got what it takes, easiest access is from Omatsuri, at the intersection of Tokyo, Saitama, and Yamanashi Prefectures.
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By Mark Guthrie

Image by Justin C. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr.com (modified)

About the author

Mark Guthrie editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Mark whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves. Find some more of his musings at www.markguthriewrites.com and on instagram @markguthriewrites