Highlight · Japan

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

by On Jan 16, 2015
Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

The Japanese are known for being healthy and in good physical shape, so it should come as no surprise that the country has an abundance of running trails. And the fact that 75 percent of Japan's topography is mountainous means that there are many unique natural running trails from which to choose.

Westerners may be surprised at some of the amenities offered by Japanese running trails. For example, miso soup and other native delicacies like fruit and chocolate are often found at trail-race aid stations, in addition to conventional snacks such as soft drinks and sandwiches.

Below are eight of the best running trails in the beautiful nation of Japan:

1. Name of Trail: Hakone

Brief introduction of trail: An hour and a half west of downtown Tokyo, this trail offers a panoramic view, hot springs and sulfur-infused spring vents.
Distance: About 20 - 22km
City/location:
The closest big city is Tokyo; the trail is part of Japan's Kanto region.
Route: The easiest way to get to Hakone is by train. It is about an hour and a half from Haneda Airport.
Terrain: Mountainous
Things to do/scenery to see: Mt. Fuji is clearly visible from parts of the trial. It is a tradition that older women on one of the mountain's peaks offer snacks to runners.
Things to take note: This trail offers something for everyone. There are forests, lakes, beautiful views and mountains—the scenery changes with every season.

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

Photo Credit: 123RF

2. Name of Trail: Okutama

Brief introduction of trail: At the far western end of Tokyo, this mountainous trail is filled with hot springs and campgrounds.
Distance: The hiking trail is 9km
City/location: Located in Tokyo along the Tama River
Route: Buses, taxis, and cars are the best options for getting here
Terrain: Mountainous
Things to do/scenery to see: Lake Okutama is the biggest lake in the region. Mounts Ozen and Otake are accessible by hiking trails. The Nippara Caves are also worth checking out.
Things to take note: There are a number of places to stay, including campgrounds and inns.

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

Photo Credit: Kabacchi

 

Also read:  33 Reasons to Run This Year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore

3. Name of Trail: The Imperial Palace

Brief introduction of trail: Better known as the residence of the Japanese Emperor, this is also a nice urban running trail.
Distance: 5km
City/location: Tokyo proper
Route: This trail can be reached through the Otemachi, Hibiya or Takebashi.
Terrain: Flat
Things to do/scenery to see: The Imperial Palace is the residence of the Emperor of Japan. Many tall buildings along the route offer an interesting view as well.
Things to take note: The Imperial Palace trail can be crowded, but it is worth the effort. There are lockers near the route, including at the Run Pit in the Palace Side building above Takebashi Station.

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

Photo Credit: 123RF

4. Name of Trail: Meguro River

Brief introduction of trail: If you are looking for a beautiful scenic route, this might be the right trail for you. It is especially nice in Spring when the cherry trees are blooming.
Distance: 7.82km
City/location: Tokyo proper
Route: Can be reached through the Tennōzu Isle Station
Terrain: Relatively flat
Things to do/scenery to see: This trail is dotted with izakayas, modern shopping centers and numerous cafes.
Things to take note: At a certain point, the river goes underground and ends up flowing into Tokyo Bay.

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

Photo Credit: 123RF

5. Name of Trail: Arakawa

Brief introduction of trail: This trail is the site of an annual marathon. It runs alongside its namesake, the Arakawa River.
Distance: 172.2km
City/location: Northern Tokyo
Route: Reachable by public transportation
Terrain: Very flat
Things to do/scenery to see: Even if you doesn't visit during the March marathon, there are still many enjoyable points of interest, like running alongside a river that connects to the Tokyo River.
Things to take note: This path will go on forever, so don't feel bad if you don't reach the end. The marathon doesn't even use the whole path!

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

Photo Credit: 123RF

6. Name of Trail: Kyoto

Brief introduction of trail: This trail wraps around Kyoto proper and goes through mountainside terrain.
Distance: 70km
City/location: Kyoto
Route: The trial is reachable by public transportation, but it may take awhile to get there.
Terrain: Mountainous
Things to do/scenery to see: There are numerous shrines and temples that are visible along this trail.
Things to take note: Like the Arakawa trail, this is a long path. Don't expect to finish the entire trail.

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

Photo Credit: 123RF

7. Name of Trail: Komazawa Park

Brief introduction of trail: This trail will provide runners the chance to measure their progress, as the park's running trails are dotted with distance markers.
Distance: 2.15km
City/location: Tokyo
Route: Easily reachable by car, bike, or public transportation
Terrain: Completely flat
Things to do/scenery to see: This trail lies right next to Komazawa University. A skate park is available for adolescents. There are also urban shopping centres nearby. It is a very green and good place for a short run.
Things to take note: This is a relatively short path that is good for building stamina to prepare for longer paths. It is perhaps the most friendly, approachable and accessible path on this list.

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

Photo Credit: Hiroaki Sakurai

8. Name of Trail: Yoyogi Park

Brief introduction of trail: Found in one of the largest parks in Japan, this running trail is well-known to foreigners and is a popular location in central Tokyo for training runs.
Distance: 1.8–3km
City/location: Tokyo
Route: Easily reachable by car, bike, or public transportation
Terrain: Relatively flat
Things to do/scenery to see: This trail has plenty of points of interest, including the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. A renovation of the area was unsuccessfully pitched in an effort to win an Olympic bid in 2016.
Things to take note: This is often a crowded path that includes families, so runners are advised to stay vigilant. Running is forbidden in Meiji Shrine.

Spectacular Japanese Trail Running Routes for Culture Lovers

Photo Credit: 123RF

Now you have an idea of where you can run during your next trip to Japan. But this list is by no means exhaustive. Once you've explored the trails on this list, don't hesitate to strike them out and find others. The running trails in Japan are numerous and fascinating, providing entertainment and education along with exercise.

Aidan is the Editor-in-chief of RunSociety. As a health improvement hacker and explorer, he oversees RunSociety’s Creativity Channel, spanning a wide range of inspirational and enriching topics daily to the running community. Get in touch with him if you have any fresh ideas!

Location
Singapore
No. of Posts
454
Join the Discussion