Running in Tokyo

I like to fashion myself as an avid runner, though the truth is the Tokyo winter has been less than kind this year, and waking up at 5:45 in the morning for me is a Herculean task. On some days the temperature dips below 0 with wind chill, and that’s as strong an argument as my lazy ass needs to stay inside by the space heater.

I live near Nerima, so the best places to run are Shakuji-koen, Hikarigaoka-koen and some of the parks in Wako-shi. They’re all easily identified on any map of Tokyo simply by virtue of the green blobs representing them. Green is quite rare on Tokyo maps.

shakuji sunsetShakuji-koen has a nice ~1.75km loop around the main section of the lake, as well as a wooded area on one side of the lake (inside the main loop) that is about 700m each way. 6 laps around the lake would be a bit over 10k for anybody wanting to put in some distance in their free time, and the scenery is gorgeous all year around.

If you aren’t afraid to take a walk across the street, halfway around the lake you can head towards Tanashi and Hoya, where a couple more parks await about 5km or so away. For those who don’t mind running on main roads, there’s a long stretch from Ogikubo on the Ome-kaido road, and parallel to that, Inokashira-dori, which lead to Shinjuku and thereabouts.

hikarigaoka3_1The park at Hikarigaoka used to be a US base, so it’s a very clean, expansive and well-designed park. It’s mostly flat on the running surface, but there are hilly fields where families and friends hang out every day of the year, as well as near-weekly festivals and open market events. The track is 400 meters, and there is a larger jogging course that extends to about 2.9km, marked both on the ground and with signs so you don’t get lost. A baseball diamond is situated by the track.

If anybody is interested in running events in Japan, two great websites are Sports Entry and Runnet. Unfortunately they both are written in Japanese, so it might be difficult to navigate for some people. I don’t know of any English web sites that have as extensive a list of upcoming events as either of those two, but if you do just let me know in the comments. If you need help with the sites, you can email me.

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