10 best running routes in Tokyo
(original here: http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/play/10-best-places-run-tokyo-932431)
By Rick Martin 15 November, 2010
Tokyo may be one of the most densely populated cities in the world, but it still offers a wide variety of wonderful trails and routes to cater to the city’s enthusiastic runners.
Tapping up the collective wisdom of the Namban Rengo club, a group of serious runners that includes both international and local individuals, we found out which areas they love most.
To see the exact routes, hit Nike+ Route Map under each, or use google to locate it.
One of Tokyo’s most famous rivers offers a trail that extends seemingly forever, catering to runners as well as bike-riders.
Marking the division between Tokyo and Kanagawa, you can access the river from a number of stations making it a convenient and popular trail for enthusiasts.
Not surprisingly Tamagawa ranked high as a great location for distance runs over 15 kilometers, so if you’d like to push your limits this is a great place to do it.
Stations: Try Futako-Tamagawa and Izumi-Tamagawa, or of course, Tamagawa station.
The second largest park in the Tokyo metro area, Koganei park is a great springtime run featuring distance markers and an abundance of sakura trees.
There are a number of other sports facilities in the park as well, including 16 tennis courts and a cycling course sure to please triathletes.
The park even has a running club that might be of interest to local runners. Some 2,000 cherry trees in the garden to the west give Koganei Park some points for scenery too.
Stations: There are a few stations not so far from the park, but try taking a bus from Musashi-Koganei Station on the Chuo Line.
Runners in search of more challenging routes can certainly find one at Kumotori-yama, if they are so ‘inclined.’
There are a number of possible routes, including coming from the east from Okutama (see Nike route below) or from the north (see this great explanation from Namban).
Some extra time might be appropriate to fully enjoy Kumotori-yama, so an overnight stay at the mountain lodgings at Kumotorisansou might be best.
Run with a group if possible, because if you happen to get hurt it’s a long way down!
Stations: Okutama Station, Mitsumine Station, Seibu Chichibu Station.
Another cherry-blossom springtime wonder, Meguro River runs not far from Yamanote Line stations Meguro, Gotanda and Osaki.
Trendy shopping areas, buzzing izakayas, and aromatic cafes make this a great evening destination with a short run to cap things off.
If you go north of Route 246, you’ll find the river makes its way underground, but there’s still a path that continues above ground.
Stations: Try Ikejii-Ohashi on the Den-en-toshi Line
Site of the Arakawa Marathon each March, this route along the Arakawa River in northern Tokyo can go on just about as long as you want it to.
The Nambanners describe it as ‘pancake flat,’ so runners looking for a lengthy run will be sure to enjoy it.
As Namban organizer Bob Poulson points out, “Besides the Tamagawa and Arakawa, almost any river has paths alongside it for running,” so don’t be afraid to look to your own neighborhood for suitable riverside trails.
Stations: From the north you might pop in via Ukimafunado, or from the south try Nishi-Kasai
Not far from Shibuya on the Den-en-toshi Line lies Komazawa Park, just beside Komazawa University.
Running tracks inside the park are conveniently covered with distance markers so you can gauge your progress.
There are skateboard half-pipes inside as well just in case you want to vary your training.
With lots of greenery, Komazawa Park is an excellent place to get in a short run around the loops in the crisp early mornings.
If you have a significant other with a tendency to drag you shopping in Shibuya, Komazawa Park could be the perfect escape.
Stations: Komazawa Daigaku
The Palace itself is over one hundred years old and was originally built to house the Crown Prince of Japan.
It now functions as a ‘state guesthouse’ for visiting dignitaries.
Accessible from a number of stations, the Akasaka Palace circuit goes all the way around the perimeter of the grounds covering a distance of over three kilometers.
For travelers visiting Tokyo for a short time, a trip to the Palace plus a brief run around it would be an excellent way to get in some sight-seeing and exercise too.
Stations: Yotsuya, Aoyama Ichome
A landmark no doubt familiar to any visitors to Japan, Yoyogi Park is a wonderful woodsy escape in the heart of urban Tokyo.
Besides the Meiji Shrine area, where running is a no-no, the park provides a nice compact circuit with lots of facilities nearby and scenic sakura in the spring.
The park is open 24 hours, which makes it a popular location for runs after work.
There are showers nearby (see Wired Cafe Fit near the stadium) if you plan to freshen up before visiting the hip Harajuku and Omotesando districts nearby.
Stations: Meijijingumae or Harajuku drop you right outside.
The Imperial Palace
Perhaps the most famous and frequented running circuit in Tokyo, the route around the Imperial Palace is about five kilometers.
There are numerous locations that house lockers nearby, namely Run Pit in the Palace Side building above Takebashi Station.
The route can be a little crowded at times, but if you like your running with a side dish of history, the Palace circuit is for you.
Stations: Otemachi, Hibiya or Takebashi.
Here is the venue where this writer first encountered the Nambanners. Note that this is an actual running track inside a contained sports ground, and depending on when you turn up there might be a charge.
The good folks at Namban.org occasionally post updates about their meetings at Oda Field, so be sure to stay tuned to the website for more information.
Stations: Yoyogi Park, Harajuku/Meiji-jingumae, Shibuya