Shinjuku Running [Cherry Blossom Edition]: Sprinting Among the Sakura of Chidorigafuchi

The cherry blossoms may have arrived earlier than expected this year, but don’t let that stop you from trying our next running course. In fact, if you are new to jogging, now is the best time to get started so that you’ll be able to tackle the entire eight-kilometer course before next year’s cherry blossom season.
This course will take you through two of Tokyo’s popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots: a tree-lined ridge adjacent to Sophia University and the historic Chidorigafuchi Park, a place defined by the moat of the Imperial Palace. The running course described below will seamlessly connect these locations, but since Tokyo is home to countless cherry trees, there are plenty of bright pink blossoms to see throughout the entire route.

Getting started in Araki-Cho

The Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan, the common thread that ties all of our running articles together, will once again be our starting point. Ascending the trademark steep stairways of Araki-Cho is the perfect warm up as you head straight toward Yotsuya Station, our first landmark on this course. As you approach the station you’ll see a row of cherry trees on the horizon. Keep heading toward them for a brief escape from Tokyo’s dense urban scenery.

Look for this row of cherry trees on the northeast side of Yotsuya Station

Once you reach the far side of Yotsuya Station, head north and you’ll find an elevated pathway that cuts through a narrow park and parallels a small grove. This is a good time to relax your pace and take in the scenery—just be careful not to trip over one of several hanami “camp sites,” that dot the path.
Just as you start to get lost in a sea of pink and green, reality will strike and plant you firmly back in the concrete jungle that is Tokyo. This brings us to Ichigaya Station, the next landmark on our journey.

The narrow park that parallels the river near Ichigaya Station. In this photo, most of the cherry blossoms have already fallen. Look closely and you can see the snowflake-like petals on the ground.

One of Japan’s most popular cherry blossom spots

Upon passing Ichigaya Station, pick up speed and head east on Route 302. Soon, you’ll reach Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo’s crown jewel of hanami spots. If you’re a confident navigator, swing by the Nippon Budokan, the historic arena famous for hosting the the 1964 Olympics judo competition and a series of concerts by the Beatles in 1966. Feeling even more adventurous? You could even start running around the Imperial Palace.

Route 302: looking back toward Ichigaya Station from Chidorigafuchi.

Once you’ve had your fill of adventure under the blossoms, head south for the home stretch, where one last patch of cherry trees awaits.

Homeward bound

Wave to the boaters as you head south, towards the Imperial Palace and the National Theater of Japan. Note Tokyo Tower and Toranomon Hills in the background.

If you are following the route map, you should be heading south with the splendid Imperial Palace grounds on your left. After passing the National Theatre of Japan, turn right at the next major intersection and work your way past the historic New Otani Hotel and to the east side of the famous Sophia University.
Once again, it’s time to slow down and jog under a canopy of cherry blossoms while glancing at the university’s tennis courts and baseball diamond. Congratulations—you are on the home stretch. At this point you can push onward to Araki-Cho. Just be sure to take at least a moment to pause and reflect upon the fleeting beauty of Tokyo’s cherry blossoms. Like all good things in life, their existence is all too brief.

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Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.


Address 12-4 Arakichō, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to, 160-0007
Hours Check in: 4 p.m – 10 p.m.
Check out: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
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Access Four-minute walk from Yotsuya-sanchome Station (Exit 4) via the Tokyo Metro Marunouichi Line
Phone +81-(0)3-6709-9677
Language Japanese