Arakicho Running: Sprinting in Shinjuku

According to statistics shared by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, more than 35% of Tokyo is covered in woods and forests. Shinjuku is no exception to this, and staying in Araki-Cho gives you convenient access to several of the city’s verdant parks. This is great news for sprinters or those who like high-intensity workouts that can be difficult to pull off among the crowds and traffic lights of an urban environment.
So for this article, we’re going to focus on “destination running.” Specifically, we’ll cover Toyama Park, where you can run laps as fast as you like, to your heart’s content.


Introducing Toyama Park

Exploring Toyama Park, located northwest of Araki-Cho, can be confusing at first. The park is split into two sections separated by the sprawling Toyama high school and a major urban thoroughfare. This article will take you to both parks, each one with its own unique landscape for running.

Warm up with some urban running

Since this article focuses on the destination instead of the journey, I’ll only cover general directions and landmarks. Thanks to Tokyo’s seemingly infinite number of winding roads and alleys, there are plenty of different ways for you to reach Toyama Park. Don’t hesitate to use your favorite mapping app for this journey.
For a basic route, consider starting your run at Akebonobashi station, just south of the Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan. Once you come across the bustling Akebonobashi-dori (street), head up Route 302, the wide road that heads northwest. There’s nothing like a good incline to get the blood flowing!

Route 302, heading toward Higashi-shinjuku Station.

Stay on this road, and you’ll eventually reach Higashi-shinjuku Station. If you are a video game fan (or simply appreciate unique architecture), take a moment to circle the Square Enix head office and the beautiful greenspace that surrounds it. After that, head north on Route 305, Meij-dori (street), for about 500 meters, and from there, you’ll have a choice: head west for Toyama Park (Okubo Section) or east for Toyama Park (Hakone-yama section).

Hydrangeas in full bloom in front of the egg-shaped Artnia, the Square Enix company store.

Toyama Park (Okubo section)

If you are looking for a designated course for sprinting, then this section of the park is your best bet. Having an “official” course is a godsend in a bustling city like Shinjuku. Park visitors are aware that the path is for running and should give you a wide berth to sprint at any speed you like. After you are done here, you can head back to Araki-Cho or head due west to the Hakone-yama section of the park.

Part of the running course found in the Okubo section of Toyama Park.

Toyama Park (Hakone-yama section)

One of the quaint neighborhoods that separates the two sections of Toyama Park.

While the Hakone-yama section of the park lacks a dedicated running course, it’s no stranger to athletes. As you jog through this sprawling oasis of greenery, you’ll encounter locals engaged in all kinds of outdoor activities. This includes high school and college students giving it their all as they train for relay races.

At the base of Mt. Hakone.

So, as you navigate the park, be on the lookout for runners dashing along its paths. Better yet, let their efforts motivate you to run even faster. The key feature of this section of Toyama Park is the generously named Mt. Hakone. It’s really just a big hill, but it’s great for incline training or stair climbing.

Looking down from the summit of Mt. Hakone

More than just running

As you make your way through these park grounds, you’ll notice all kinds of peculiar sites. There are beautiful flowers to be seen all year round—especially the cherry blossoms in spring and the hydrangeas during the June rainy season. For a daily fee of 400 yen, you can even play basketball and lift weights at the Shinjuku Sports Center.

Or, if you need a breather, simply plop yourself down on one of many park benches, and take in the beautiful scenery. Whatever you’re into, you’ll find that a trip to Toyama Park is well worth the effort.

Depending on the route you take back to Araki-Cho, you may stumble across the beautifully designed Ogasawara Hakushaku-tei, one of Tokyo’s numerous Michelin-starred restaurants.
Just one of many possible routes to reach Toyama Park. Click here for the interactive version of this map.

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AUTHOR

Anthony

Anthony

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.

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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 Marunouchi Line
Phone +81-(0)3-6709-9677
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