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With the Summer Olympics set for Tokyo in 2020, the Asian capital is beginning to ramp up in earnest to play host to the world’s top athletes and countless fans. The marathon is always a keystone event, and with running already one of the most popular sports in Japan, there will be plenty of cheering onlookers. Tokyo’s organizing committee recently announced the 26.2-mile route, which will wind through the city, passing many of the top historic and cultural attractions. But you don’t have to wait until 2020—or be an elite athlete—to enjoy the running here. With its miles of waterfront, lushly forested parks dotting the city and a deeply ingrained running culture, Tokyo is a fantastic city to explore on the run. While some may associate Tokyo with world-class shopping, karaoke and sushi, it’s a runner’s paradise as well. Here are three sites you’ll want to integrate into your Tokyo runs:
Sitting majestically in the center of Tokyo, the Imperial Palace is not only the current home of Japan’s emperor, but also a lively, scenic jogging scene. While tours are offered inside the high stone walls, runners prefer to circle the outside of the palace, enjoying a 5k loop that includes views of romantic stone bridges, diverse flora and fauna and even a moat.
Craving a green escape from Tokyo’s blinking lights and bustling crowds? Yoyogi Park, one of Tokyo’s most popular recreation areas, offers two great jogging loops (a 1.2 km inner loop and 26 km outer loop), plus a dog run if your pup likes running as much as you do. The grounds are beautifully green and lush, with a sanctuary of tall trees offering plenty of shade. Bonus: Meiji Shrine, Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine, is right next door. But running there is forbidden, so pay it a visit post-run.
Shin-Toyosu Brillia Running Stadium
This sleek 60-meter indoor track in eastern Tokyo is perfect for those times when you’re craving speed over endurance. Don’t be surprised if you spot an Olympian or two working out next to you, since it’s a go-to spot for athletes sharpening their skills for Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics. BONUS: You can mix things up by adding a warm-up and cool down along the nearby 5k running promenade that stretches along the banks of Tokyo Bay, offering stunning views of the skyline as well as the Rainbow Bridge.