Shinjuku Running: Circling the Akasaka Palace

Are you looking for a flexible running course filled with urban greenery and pristine city streets? Whether you are a beginner or seasoned sprinter, this course, just to the south of Araki-Cho, Shinjuku, is perfect for you.
This is a relatively short seven-kilometer course that has several alternate routes for those that want to extend their runs. It’s perfect for first-time Tokyo travelers who are still finding their way around the city.

Getting started

The route covered here doesn’t have as much foot traffic as most of the other courses in this series. Having said that, the weekend, when most office workers have finally called it quits, is still the best time to tackle this course. From our usual starting point, the Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan, head southeast toward Yotsuya Station. Feel free to use this map to help you find your way.
Once you reach the station, a quick glance south will reveal your next landmark: the Akasaka Palace, a National Treasure of Japan. Enjoy its magnificent 19th century architecture as you jog past the main gate.

The State Guest House, part of the Akasaka Palace compound. Public access is limited, but you can catch a glimpse of this Buckingham Palace inspired building during your run.

Continue south, hugging the walls of the palace grounds. Those of you who are familiar with Tokyo and its various landmarks will notice the New Otani Hotel and Akasaka-mitsuke on your left. Keep the palace walls on your right, and you’ll eventually find yourself heading west into the urban splendor of the glitzy Aoyama district, marked by Aoyama-itchome Station.

A fork in the road?

The wide sidewalk on the southern side of the Akasaka Palace is great for running.

Upon reaching the station, you’ll have a choice. Feeling tired? Keep circling the palace, and you can call it a lap and head back to Araki-Cho. In the mood to burn more calories? Press on, as there is more to explore in this fascinating part of town.
About 350 meters west of Aoyama-itchome station, you’ll see a huge tree-lined street. Turn right here, and if you’re lucky (and you’re running on a weekend day) the street will be closed to vehicular traffic, affording you a superb photo op of the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery.

In the distance: the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery.

Need a break?

Feeling hungry? In the mood for your morning tea or coffee? At this point, you can take a break at the Royal Garden Café. No need to worry if you’ve worked up a sweat—outdoor seating is available. You could also stop by the nearby Shake Shack, but that would defeat the purpose of all of this running, wouldn’t it?

Navigating through Tokyo’s Olympic past and future

Things can get a little confusing from this point on as you navigate winding streets that weave through stadiums and sports complexes old and new. This area is rich with Olympic history and in 2020 will once again welcome athletes and spectators from around the globe. Until then, bear with all of the construction and jog around what will eventually be the New National Stadium.

Under construction: the New National Stadium which will make its world debut during the 2020 Olympics.

So many options

If you follow the route to the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, you’ll reach yet another decision point. Will you stop here and pick up a delicious, healthy breakfast at Good Morning Café? Or, will you go for a leisurely stroll through nearby Shinjuku Gyoen? Whatever you decide, heading north will put you on the home stretch, bound for Araki-Cho.

At the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium complex. On the horizon, you can see the Park Hyatt Tokyo, made famous in the movie Lost in Translation.

Close to home

Out of all our running courses thus far, this one keeps you closest to Araki-Cho. It’s perfect for those who don’t want to stray too far from the Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan. The relative ease of navigating this seven-kilometer course make it perfect for running laps to suit your needs. Regardless of your running (or walking) ability, give it a try. With so many sights to explore, you won’t regret embarking on this running adventure.

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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.
Price Visit the Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan website for prices (link below)
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Access Four-minute walk from Yotsuya-sanchome Station (Exit 4) via the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line
Phone +81-(0)3-6709-9677
Language Japanese