Tokyo is an ideal city for running. There are many routes where you can enjoy a run in an urban setting while surrounded by nature. However, due to the winding nature of its streets, finding a route suited to you can be difficult. In this article, we’ll detail five popular running spots in the city: the Imperial Palace, Komazawa Park, Yoyogi Park, Odaiba, and the Tamagawa Trails. We’ll also discuss the characteristics of each route and the attractions available near them.
Criteria When Choosing the Perfect Jogging Spot in Tokyo
Before we begin, let’s go over the criteria used in determining the aforementioned locations. One of the most important factors we considered when choosing our five running spots was variety. As there are numerous routes available, it’s important we had a list which touched upon every aspect of running in Tokyo. Those are as follows.
- Imperial Palace – running around a cultural and historical landmark.
- Komazawa Park & Yoyogi Park – running within large parks.
- Odaiba & Tamagawa Trails – running close to natural bodies of water.
Upon choosing five spots, we looked at each based on their scenery, accessibility, and track features.
Imperial Palace Jogging Route
What makes the Imperial Palace jogging route so popular is the beauty of its surroundings. Along your run, you’ll see bridges leading into the Imperial Palace grounds as well as idyllic gardens blossoming with sakura in spring. The whole while, you’ll have a view of the moat and stone walls surrounding the palace.
On the other side, metropolitan Tokyo rises with sleek offices and skyscrapers. Large avenues lead to shopping and entertainment districts such as Ginza and Roppongi. Various landmarks, like the National Diet Building and Yasukuni Shrine, can also be spotted on your run. This contrast of scenery adds to the popularity of the route.
Located in central Tokyo, the Imperial Palace is easily accessible by train. The closest stations are Sakuradamon, Nagatacho, and Nijubashimae. From these stations, coin lockers are available for storing belongings.
A common starting point is from Sakuradamon Gate. Remember to run counter-clockwise while keeping to the left; follow the path around the Imperial Palace.
One lap lasts 5 kilometers. The route is ideal for all levels of runners, although there are points in which elevation changes, providing a change in pace.
Public toilets and water fountains are dotted along the track. Policemen are also posted at points, making it safe to use day and night.
The National Museum of Modern Art and the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace are close. You can enjoy a collection of over 13,000 art pieces, as well as a beautiful traditional Japanese garden.
|Address||1-1, Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo |
Komazawa Park Jogging Route
While Komazawa Park does not boast the dignified beauty of the Imperial Palace, there is a simplicity about its scenery which is suited to running. It is this reason, as well as the fact I use it for my own runs, I knew I could not go without including it on this list.
Originally built to serve as a grounds for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Komazawa Park is a sprawling outdoor area replete with sporting facilities and smaller parks. A running course wraps through it, passing between the pavement lined with greenery which changes with the seasons. While spring sakura blossoms are popular, the vibrant red of autumn remains a personal favorite.
The easiest way to get to Komazawa Park is a 10-minute walk from Komazawa Daigaku Station. Leave the station through the Park Exit and proceed along Jiyu-dori Street before entering the grounds through its East Entrance.
Storage lockers are available at Komazawa Daigaku Station.
Komazawa Park’s running course runs parallel to its cycling course. The course is marked with a yellow outline and lasts 2.1 kilometers. As joggers have their own lane, it’s possible to jog at a pace of your liking.
Public bathrooms and water fountains are available in the park, while convenience stores are located nearby every exit. Morning hours are the best for runs as the park is the least crowded.
Komazawa Park is in itself a worthy attraction to explore. On top of the range of its sporting facilities and smaller parks, events are held at the open Plaza. Some notable ones include: beer festivals in late spring/early summer, flea markets, and running events.
If you’re looking for a way to recharge after a run, there are various eateries dotted around the park. Mr. Farmer is one option, serving primarily vegan dishes along with an assortment of veggie smoothies.
|Address||1-1, Komazawakoen, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo|
Yoyogi Park Jogging Route
One of Tokyo’s largest city parks, Yoyogi Park is divided into two sections comprised of spacious lawns, ponds, sporting facilities, and forested areas. For this reason, it’s popular as a gathering spot amongst a wide range of characters: from rockabillies to martial artists, and of course, joggers.
There are several running routes. One is a shorter, paved path while the longer paths are on dirt terrain. Each offers the ability to enjoy Yoyogi Park’s natural scenery, which is special as it feels separated from bustling Tokyo despite being in the middle of the city. One of the parks more notable features is its ginkgo forest, which erupts into an intense golden color in autumn.
Due to its central location, Yoyogi Park is easily accessible from any number of stations. The closest is a 5-minute walk from Harajuku Station or Yoyogi-koen Station.
Another option is to leave from Meiji-jingumae Station. This leads you right to Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo’s largest Shinto shrine which is next to Yoyogi Park.
As mentioned, there are several running paths available. Starting from Inokashira Street, one is a paved path looping around the park for a length of around 1.6 kilometers. The dirt paths make it possible for you to customize your runs, coming to a total distance of around 3.2 kilometers.
Public bathrooms and water fountains are available in the park, while convenience stores are located outside. Morning hours during the week are the best for runs as the park is the least crowded then.
There are numerous ways to spend your time in and around Yoyogi Park. Whether that be praying at the nearby Meiji Jingu Shrine or visiting popular shopping and entertainment districts Harajuku or Omotesando, it’s impossible to run out of options.
|Address||2-1, Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo|
Odaiba Jogging Route
Odaiba is an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. It was built in the 1850s as protection against marine attacks. Today, it serves as a modern residential, commercial, and leisure center. While most may not consider Odaiba suited to jogging, in reality, it’s a rare opportunity to exercise by the sea.
From Odaiba Marine Park, there are three running courses. Each follows paths running right along the sea, providing you with expansive views of the waters and cityscape. Landmarks such as Rainbow Bridge and Fuji TV Headquarters can be spotted along the way. On top of this, while the sea expands on one side of the tracks, quaint parks occupy the other.
Getting to Odaiba Marine Park is quickest from Odaiba Kaihinkoen Station or Daiba Station. It’s a 3-minute walk from either. Lockers are available at these stations.
It’s also possible to reach Odaiba Marine Park via water bus. These take off from various waterfront locations like Hinode Pier, the main hub for four boat lines run by the Tokyo Cruise company.
Two of the running paths are marked tracks along the seafront which loop back to the starting point at Odaiba Marine Park. The first lasts 5 kilometers while the second lasts 7 kilometers. Along the way, there are vending machines, public fountains, and public bathrooms.
The third path begins like the others but leads onto Rainbow Bridge for an additional 3.5 kilometers. Although longer, running on one of Tokyo’s architectural symbols is hard to pass up. At night, it lights up with neon colors and is even more beautiful.
There are plenty of attractions in Odaiba to keep you busy. After a run, relaxing in hot springs is possible at the nearby Odaiba Onsen Monogatari. Otherwise, there are dining options available in DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, a seven-floor shopping and entertainment center.
|Address||1-4, Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo|
Tamagawa Trails Jogging Route
The Tamagawa Trails are the most uninterrupted running route on this list. The tracks runs along the Tama River, a major river starting in the foothills of Yamanashi and emerging at Tokyo Bay.
The route is fully customizable, though no matter how long or short you choose to run for, you are always enjoying the stunning stretch of Tama River alongside you. Depending on where you are, the path changes from running atop a paved embankment to gravel trails. While following the course of Tama River, you will also see cityscapes unfold in front of you, offering a duality in the scenery of your jog.
Being the longest trail on the list, as well as the most straightforward, there are numerous locations from which you can begin your run. Common starting points are Hamura, for those wanting to take on the whole route, or Futako Tamagawa, for the most convenient point of access. Regardless of where you choose to start from, there are roughly 17 train stations along the trail.
The Tamagawa Trails span for a total distance of around 48 kilometers. This is if you run from Hamura to Daishi Bridge near Haneda Airport. A run of such length is popular amongst running enthusiasts. Although it’s challenging, the paths are rarely crowded so you can maintain a pace aligned with your ability.
Another option is to start from Futako Tamagawa and run a loop at Numabe. That route lasts 10 kilometers. Whatever you decide, there are lockers at the stations along the route, along with convenience stores and public bathrooms.
For those running the Futako Tamagawa to Numabe route, visiting Rise Shopping Center is a good way to spend your time afterward. Located by Futako Tamagawa Station, Rise offers upscale retail shopping, a movie theater, delicious eateries, and small parks with views of Tama River.
|Address (Futako Tamagawa route)||2-22-13, Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo|
Have You Found the Best Spot to Start Jogging in Tokyo?
This concludes our list of five running spots in Tokyo. Depending on your preference, you’ll be able to run around a cultural and historical landmark, within a large park, or near a body of natural water. Furthermore, there are an array of attractions nearby each, meaning you can enjoy more than a jog.
However, it’s important to remember, this list is meant to serve as an introduction to the variety of routes available in the city. There are more options, and ultimately, the best one is the one you feel most comfortable with.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.