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.
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.
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.
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.
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.