Tokyo hits the pavement running

The city’s top runs, locations and events

Tokyo hits the pavement running

Go out for a jog, and you might notice that the Tokyo running scene is changing. The number of women runners is rapidly increasing as reportedly over 80% of women in their 20s and 30s who work in the city are ‘health conscious’. With a gaining number of health trends, and women beginning to hit the streets in larger numbers, running is set to boom.

Unlike many other popular sport activities, going for a jog is a perfect fit for a city known as a haven for those who enjoy doing things on their own. Running is essentially a low-cost and carefree personal competition; if you have trainers on your feet, you can run.

However, more and more people are viewing running as an opportunity to socialize and meet other people. After work, female employees are arranging to meet somewhere with a locker and a shower, getting in some running distance, then after a good sweat going for a drink together. Helping top off the trend is the recent increase in well-designed, fashionable running wear.

The biggest topic on Tokyo runner’s minds these days is who’s going to be drawn to run in the Tokyo Marathon 2010. This year will be the fourth Tokyo Marathon, and already the number of applicants has surpassed last year’s record of 310,000; approximately 8.9 times larger than the 35,000 available spaces. Similarly, the number of people volunteering to help run the marathon has grown beyond the available 10,000 slots, and as a result, the deadline for applications was closed on the Oct 13. One reason for the popularity of the marathon is the high ratio of runners who complete the course; a staggering 97.4% of participants made it to the finish line last year.

The marathon starts in Shinjuku, passes the Imperial Palace, proceeds to Zoujyoji temple, and then on to Shiba Koen by Tokyo Tower, Ginza, and Asakusa’s Kaminarimon, before doubling back to Kabukiza and Tsukijihonganji Temple and finishing at Tokyo Big Site— just like a sightseeing tour of Tokyo. The marathon runs for 7 hours; a time that is lenient for even novice runners, and employs special traffic regulations meaning runners don’t have to worry about things like traffic lights.

If marathons aren’t your style, check one of our five other city-related running events and locations, along with some runs complete with fewer traffic lights and less stress.

Tokyo Marathon 2010
Date: Feb 28
Time: 9:05am – Wheelchair Start, 9:10am – Elite and Mass Race Start, 10:50am – 10 km Finish, 16:10pm Marathon Finish
Tokyo Marathon EXPO2010
Tokyo Marathon EXPO2010 operates in conjunction with the marathon. It hosts various events including sporting goods exhibitions and sales, and talk events given by the athletes. Last year, the number of people attending the marathon live-feed room topped the number of actual marathon participants to reach 83,493 visitors.
Location: Tokyo Big Site, West halls 1 and 2.
Address: 3-21-1, Ariake, Koto-ku
Open: Thu Feb 25 to Sat Feb 27
Time: 10:00am – 8:00pm. Admissions until 7:30pm.

Around the Imperial Palace (Koukyo-Shukai Course)

An approximately 5 km run around the Imperial Palace. This course is so popular with runners that people are on it dawn until dusk. The course provides ideal ups and downs, along with amenities such as toilets and water fountains. One of the best points about this run is the lack of traffic lights. The usual palace guards line the course, which makes it particularly safe even for night runners. Lockers and shower rooms also provided, so it’s no wonder that this is such a convenient spot for a Tokyo run.

Pan Douche
Located only a stone’s throw away from the Imperial Palace, and a 1 minute walk from Tokyo Metro’s Hanzomon station’s exit 2, this public bath is a great place to scrub up after a good run. Soap, and shampoo with conditioner are provided. It’s a particular favourite with runners on the way home from work after 6pm.
Address: 1-5-4, Koujimachi, Chiyoda-ku
Telephone: (03)3263 4944
Hours: 3:00pm –12 midnight (Sat and regular holidays: 1:00pm – 11:00pm)
Conveniently located in Uchikand and a short walk from either Otemachi or Marunouchi, this public bath is another popular spot for getting clean post-run. Bring your own soap or buy some from the bath house. There is also a Jacuzzi option.
Address: 1-7-3, Uchikanda, Chiyoda-ku
Telephone: (03)3294 0670
Hours: 2:50pm – 1:30am (regular holidays: 2:50pm – 10:30pm)
Runners Station Jinbocho branch
This runner’s post provides all you need for a convenient run, a two-minute walk from Tokyo Metro’s Kudanshita station, and within 500m of the Imperial Palace. This amenity station is furnished with 60 lockers and six showers for each gender. Soap, shampoo and conditioner provided.
Address: Yasuda Jinbocho Mansion 1st floor, 3-11-1, Chiyoda-ku,
Telephone: (03)3264 0089
Hours: 7:00am – 10:00pm (Sat: 8:00am – 10:00pm, regular holidays: 8:00am – 6:00pm)
Runners Station Plus Bike Koujimachi branch
This amenity station is adjacent to Tokyo Metro’s Koujimachi station exit 4. Furnished with seven showers for each gender, it also houses 148 lockers – 78 for males, 70 for females. Shower stools are provided for those who prefer to shower sitting down, in addition to the usual soap, shampoo and conditioner. A bicycle rack is also available, making this a popular stop for cyclists too.
Address: Koujimachi Crystal City building 1st floor, 4-8-1, Koujimachi, Chiyoda-ku
Telephone: (03)5275 0089
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am – 10:30pm, Sat 8am – 8pm, Sun and regular holidays 8am – 6pm
JOGLIS powered by TOKYO FM x asics
JOGLIS is a new running station soon to be opened adjacent to Hanzomon intersection. Previously a restaurant in the basement of TOKYO FM’s head office building, it’s being completely refurbished into a place for use by runners.
Address: Basement level 1, 1-7 Koujimachi, Chiyoda-ku
Telephone: (03)3221 0080
Opens: Nov 23

Around Odaiba (Odaiba-Shuyu Course)

A 10 km course along four of Odaiba’s bay-front parks; Aomi Minami Port Park, Shiokaze Park, Odaiba Kaihin Park and Daisan Odaiba Park— a course that allows you to feel the sea breeze as you run. Adding the Rainbow Bridge Walkway to the course is also a popular suggestion for those with energy to spare, but only if you’re not afraid of heights. The extra distance (over 1km) with its sloping road, might be a stretch for some; but in exchange for the extra effort, a fantastic view of the city awaits you. Try the Oedo Onsen Monogatari public bath house for a place to change clothes and for an opportunity to soak those muscles.

Ooedo Onsen Monogatari
A first-class Japanese style hot-spring theme park built with an Edo feel. The baths are filled with natural water drawn from 1400m underground. This facility is a veritable theme park, housing a host of various baths including natural hot spring baths, saunas, sand baths and even a ‘rock slab baths’. Other services and entertainment offered include places to have a drink and a ramen shop. Rooms can also be used for enkai (Japanese style banquets). There is even a separate bath tub for dogs; just ask for the ‘Tsunayoshi bath tub’.
Address: 2-57, Seikai, Koutou-ku
Telephone: (03)5500 1126
Hours: 11:00am – following day 9:00am (admissions until 7:00am)

Around Tokyo Midtown (Tokyo Midtown Jogging Course)

This run takes your inside Tokyo Midtown’s Garden Space, a 1.3 km running course, with a set of three curious white cubes at the starting point. The path is particularly easy to follow, progressing around the periphery of the garden, past the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo and then through Hinokicho Park. Rehydration points exist along the way but they are meant for dogs, so be sure to bring a water bottle.

Ishino Onsen VIVI
A 5-minute walk from Roppongi station brings you to this stone spa. Relaxation comes in many forms here, including rock baths, aesthetic treatments, massages, bathing and short-break sleeping rooms.
Address: Roa building 4th floor, 5-5-1, Roppongi, Minato-ku
Telephone: (03)3404 4126
Hours: Open 24 hours

Around Sumidagawa River Terrace (Sumidagawa Terasu Shukai Course)

Starting at Tsukishima, this 10 km course runs along Sumidagawa river and goes on to visit Tsukudajima and Nihonbashi Hamacho, through Ryogoku, and then on to Asakusabashi. Sunidagawa Terrace, a paved walkway lined with replanted trees, runs along both banks of the Sumidagawa. More than 10 bridges cross the river, including Eitaibashi, Kyosubashi, Shinohashi, Ryogokubashi, Kuramaebashi and Atsumabashi, all providing enjoyable scenery. Possible starting points include Kachidoki, Hachobori, Ningyocho, or maybe Kyosumishirakawa, or start anywhere along the course. Tsukishima Onsen is located near Tuskishima station, possibly making it the most convenient starting and ending point if you’re interested in towelling off after your run. The area also provides a great place for a blissful beer and a taste of monjyayaki.

Tsukishima Onsen
Located along Main Street’s Nishinakadori shopping area. Facilities include a medicinal open-air bath and a sauna. There is relaxation space that includes a television and massage chair. Old fashioned bottles of milk are on sale for ¥110.
Address: Sanguranpa, 3-4-5, Tsukishima, Chuo-ku
Telephone: (03)3531 1126
Hours: 11am –12 midnight

Around Komazawa Olympic Park (Komazawa Olympic Park Shukai Course)

Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground is, as the name suggests, one of the locations used for the Tokyo Olympics, and encloses a 2 km running circuit. The course is completely flat and has distance indicators at 100 metre increments, making it a very convenient training ground. Twelve other facilities are also provided, including a track, an outdoor pool, tennis courts and a gymnasium. Lockers, shower rooms and relaxation rooms are located inside the track and field training centre.

Metropolitan Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground Training Centre
Here, you’ll find various training equipment, relaxation facilities, aerobics, group aerobics and more. Showers are also provided. Visitors wishing to use the facilities are also offered the chance to create a personal training program. Various rooms that can be used for other sports such as running are also available.
Address: 1-1 Komazawa Park, Setagaya-ku
Telephone: (03)3421 6199
Hours: 9am – 8:45pm
By Akiko Toya
Translated by Brin Wilson
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.



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