A Runner's Guide to Japan: The Imperial Palace
Written by Rina T. and Shiho S.
Images by Haakon V., Rina T., S. Takeuchi, and Shiho S., unless otherwise noted
The days are shorter and colder lately, but Tokyo remains vibrant. By the end of February, we see the last of the snow and begin shedding our many layers of clothing. Around Japan, the month features several big-time events, including celebrations like setsubun (traditional soya bean throwing), the lunar new year, and of course, Valentine’s Day.
For some runners, February is synonymous with the one and only Tokyo Marathon. Once a year, several thousand runners travel from all corners of the world to run a very special 42.195 in Japan. This year, the Tokyo Marathon will be held on Sunday, February 25th. Whether you’re in town for the race or you stumbled here by accident, we’ve researched one of the most popular areas to run in Tokyo – the Imperial Palace.
Source: Hakon V.
The Imperial Palace Run
One of the most popular running spots in Tokyo, the Imperial Palace Run or Imperial Run means running the outer circumference of the Imperial Palace. Runners should run anti-clockwise on the course, which is 5KM per lap and suitable for all levels. Night runs are highly recommended for the beautiful views of Marunouchi and Otemachi when coming downhill from Hanzomon.
There is no true starting point for the Imperial Run. However, the Sakuradamon clock (桜田門時計台前広場) is a popular spot for runners to gather. Similarly, Takebashi (竹橋) and areas surrounding running stations are common places to start a run.
On the outskirts of the course, there are many fashionable cafes, posh eateries, and casual spots to enjoy a post-run meal (or drink). Keep in mind that while the running lanes are wide, you share the space with other runners, slower pedestrians, and faster bicycles. The Imperial Palace run accommodates all levels of runners but it's extremely important to pay attention to your surroundings and have a sense of spatial awareness.
During the cooler months, you should expect plenty of runners preparing for marathon season. The evenings and early mornings tend to be more popular for those avoiding the heat of the day during the warmer months. Throughout the year, the Imperial Palace is a mainstay running route for runners in Tokyo. Whether you live here or are visiting town, even just one 5K lap is worth running!
Source: Hakon V.
Beautiful views of central Tokyo
No traffic lights
Not completely flat
Abundance of public toilets and coin lockers
Heavy security presence - safe at night
The Imperial Palace is a large park-like area that can be accessed from a wide range of metro stations, including Sakuradamon, Hibiya, Nijubashi-Mae, Otemachi, Takebashi, Hanzomon, and Nagatacho.
Those navigating from JR Tokyo station, should follow the route below:
- Head towards the Marunouchi Underground Central Gate
- Walk towards the Metro Marunouchi line
- Take exits M4-M7, any of those exits are all close to Imperial Palace. Note that the closest and warmest route is to walk towards M5, through the Gyoko-Dori Underground Gallery, then go all the way to the end and turn left to take the stairs up.
Easily Accessible from the Imperial Palace
Ginza shopping area
Tsukiji Fish Market
Running Stations By the Imperial Palace
Marunouchi Bike and Run by Athlonia
Weekdays 0630 to 2300 (last check in 2200)
Weekends 0630 to 2000 (last check in 2100)
Facilities: Changing rooms, shower (shampoo, conditioner and body soap available) and a bike parking area (requires appt.)
Costs: ¥900 per use; ¥1,000 registration required for first-timers (requires photo ID)
A 5 minute walk from the Imperial Palace, the Marunouchi Bike and Run is conveniently connected to Tokyo station. A popular running station for foreign residents and visitors, some staff can speak English. Has sports apparel, running shoes, and towels available for rent (¥200 per item).
Shin-Marunouchi Building, 1 Chome-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to
Connected to Tokyo station (go to the underground floor and enter the building adjacent to the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line)
3 minute walk from Niju-bashi mae station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
3 minute walk from Otemachi station
Locker service for the 2018 Tokyo Marathon (requires advance reservation via phone or online)
From Saturday, 24 Feb (check in at 1300): ¥3,000
From Sunday, 25 Feb: ¥2,000
* fees include usage of facilities on Sunday
Weekdays 0700 to 2230 (last check in 2130)
Weekends, incl. holidays 0700 to 2000 (last check in 1900)
Facilities: Changing rooms, shower (shampoo and body soap available), power room for women (hair dryer available)
Costs: ¥800 per visit or 10 tickets for ¥5,500 (valid for six months)
The Adidas Run Base also boasts a running clinic where running specialists offer one-on-one coaching appropriate for all levels and purposes. Has sports apparel, running shoes, towels and watch available for rent, including Adidas shoes (¥100), jacket + shirt + pants: (¥500), jacket or short or pants (¥300), watch (¥100), small towel (¥100), big towel (¥200).
2 Chome 16-1 Hirakawacho Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to Hirakawacho Mori Tower 1st Floor
1 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Nagatacho station (use Exit 4)
6 minute walk from Akasaka-Mitsuke station (use Exit 7)