Where to run in Tokyo. The Imperial Palace.
If you are visiting Japan for the first time and looking for a place to run that’s central in Tokyo then look no further than the Imperial Palace. The track at the Imperial Palace is the quintessential Tokyo City running destination and it might well be the most popular of all running locations in Tokyo for Gaijin and local Japanese alike.
Why is Running at Imperial Palace so Popular?
- Central access from a number of stations in the area makes getting there by train easy. There are nine train stations (Hanzomon, Sakuradamon, Hibya, Yurakucho, Nijubashimae, Tokyo, Otemachi, Takebashi, Kundanshita) that all either take you right to the route or close enough for a short walk/jog or jog to the track
- There are no traffic lights or other reasons to stop/start along the way
- It’s an even 5km loop start to finish, so it’s simple to measure your 5km 10km 15km etc etc distance if you don’t have a sports watch
- Access to numerous clean public restrooms along the route
- Water Fountains access for a quick sip or replenishing your water bottle. Especially handy if you are doing multiple loops in the summer time.
- Community spirit of runners is alive. Rain, hail or shine and regardless of time of day, there seems to be always at least a handful of runners out enjoying the course with you
- Well lit and safe while Tokyo itself already has an exceptionally low crime rate the Imperial Palace is well lit and guarded by numerous police who are stationed around the palace
- Most (maybe all) of the train stations have lockers if you need to store goods while you jog
- Check out the running services in the nearby area such as Runners Station where you can shower, use a locker, grab supplies – you can even rent running gear from them if you need it. They even have an english text imperial palace running map illustrating the water stations/bathrooms.
- Run only counter clockwise around the course, it’s simply an etiquette that’s followed by all to keep congestion to a minimum.
- Much like most of Tokyo, there are no trash cans on the loop so be mindful of this and hold onto any litter until you are home.
- In contrast to the last point and somewhat out of place for Japan there are no vending machines along the route, if you seek a drink other than water you can simply cross one of the roads at the traffic lights and run for a while. You are bound to come across a vending machine in no time.
- The route can get congested as some areas of the path narrow and the runners numbers do get high during peak times. The Japanese runners of course are generally highly courteous people, locals will nearly always clear the way when they can ‘sense’ you are wanting to pass. If you are stuck and the person is unaware, simply call out Sumimasen (pronounced soo-mii-mah-sen), which simply means Excuse me!