Even as an urban metropolis, Tokyo has great parks and riverside pathways for running. Running in Japan hugely increased in popularity over the past few decades and amateur and professional runners alike use the best courses in the city.
Tokyo is a very dense city with lots of car, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. As a result, it’s not easy nor enjoyable to run along most streets in the city. However, if you head to the right destinations, you’ll find very enjoyable running routes.
One of my favorite things about Japan is the abundance of nature. Tokyo reflects that Japanese culture’s appreciation for nature and has many large parks and paths along rivers which end up being perfect for running.
I’ve been a hobby runner for about 15 years and joined a running club in Tokyo. In this guide, I’ll share where I’ve learned are the best places to run in Tokyo.
Where are the best places to run in Tokyo?
The best places to run in Tokyo include:
- Yoyogi Koen
- Oda Field
- Tama River
- Imperial Palace
- Akasaka Palace
- Meguro River
- Arakawa River
Yoyogi Koen is one of the largest and most beautiful parks in Tokyo. If you’re in central Tokyo, Yoyogi Koen is the best park to run in.
Situated between Shibuya, Harajuku, and Yoyogi, this park’s convenient location makes it a popular location for runners who want a relatively flat course. The park contains a main loop which is just under 2km and a network of smaller trails for about a total of 5km of possible pathways to run.
Yoyogi Koen is one of my favorite places to run in Tokyo because it has both paved and dirt trails. Since this running course is a short loop instead of an out-and-back path, I also appreciate the flexibility of being able to stop my run whenever I want.
Restrooms and vending machines are located throughout the park.
Oda Field has a great track just in front of Yoyogi Koen that is a favorite destination for local running clubs (see my suggestions for the best workout classes in Tokyo for more information about Namban Rengo, a club that runs at Oda Field).
Central Tokyo doesn’t have very many public tracks, so Oda Field is one of the best spots in Tokyo for interval running.
As I mentioned, many running clubs work out at Oda Field so the track is a great place to meet fellow runners and push each other through workouts.
The track has vending machines, a small locker room, and restrooms.
Tama River spans from Yamanashi Prefecture to Tokyo Bay and is one of the major rivers of Japan.
The promenade along the river is an excellent route to run, particularly if you run long distances.
There are many access points to Tama River, but popular ones include from Tamagawaohashi Ryokuchi Park, Futako-Tamagawa Park, and Tamagawadai Park.
Since Tama River runs along the outskirts of Tokyo, the running route feels more residential and even slightly remote. If you’re looking to get some fresh air and feel like you are outside of the city, I suggest checking out Tama River.
Vending machines and restrooms are located sporadically along the river path.
The Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan and is surrounded by a 5km pathway that is frequently visited by walkers and runners alike.
The course is relatively flat and the pathway is moderately wide, so it’s a popular running route for groups and running clubs. Sometimes there are even full and half marathon events where the entire course is just multiple loops around the Imperial Palace.
Note that this area can sometimes get a bit touristy, particularly near Kokyo-mae Hiroba.
A few restrooms are located around the perimeter of the palace loop.
Akasaka Palace is a state guest house of the Japanese government with a paved loop around the perimeter which is perfect for running.
The Akasaka Palace loop is just under 3.5km and very flat. At the southwest corner of the Akasaka Palace grounds, walk through Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue to see a colorful street lined with ginkgo trees. This avenue is particularly stunning in the fall when the leaves change to a bright yellow.
There are a few restroom facilities just off of the paved perimeter path.
Akasaka Palace is only 1.5km from the Imperial Palace, so if you’d like a longer run, combine the two running courses together.
Meguro River is known as one of the best places in Tokyo to see sakura in the spring, but no matter the season, it remains a top running route in the city.
Meguro River is flanked on either side by a paved pedestrian path. From Ikejiri-Ohashi Station to Meguro Station, the path is roughly 3.5km.
I suggest starting at either Ikejiri-Ohashi Station or Meguro Station then running out and bank for the full 7km possible. Personally, running along Meguro River is one of my favorite routes in Tokyo because it is so convenient to access.
A few vending machines and restrooms are located along the river pathway.
Arakawa River is a major river on the north end of Tokyo that flows across Saitama Prefecture. The 80km long pathway that follows the bank of the river is a favorite for long distance cyclists and runners.
This lengthy river has many access points, but if you’re starting in Tokyo, I suggest joining the route from the river’s mouth at Kasai Marine Park.
The path along Arakawa River doesn’t have much shade, so if you run in the summer or on a sunny day, hydrate accordingly and wear SPF.
You can find restroom facilities and vending machines at Kasai Marine Park and sporadically along the running path.