Namban Rengo has always been a loose group without real rules or structure. This is a good thing. Nevertheless, we’ve put this guide together as suggestions for things we can all do to make sure that Namban functions smoothly and fits into the Japanese running community. A lot of this will be pretty obvious and/or already part of the club’s practice and is included for anyone who might not be familiar with the local peculiarities.
There are no fees to turn up and run with Namban Rengo. Access to our website Forums and Mailing List costs ¥2000 per year. Email administrator at namban dot org to request initial registration. The fees go toward administrative costs (especially maintenance of the website), Rikuren (the national track and field governing body) registration, and subsidizing various club events. Registration with Rikuren is a good idea if you`ll be here for more than a year, will run in some of the bigger domestic races, or are one of the faster members. Registration costs 2500 yen and gets you a better starting position in certain races. The club also benefits by having more members registered. Kazuo Chiba handles the annual registration process each April (deadline April 16).
Etiquette On the Track
- Namban Rengo’s home ground is Oda Field, the main public track in central Tokyo. Joggers, amateur clubs like Namban, school teams, professional teams and Olympians all use it, and with the current running boom it has become very crowded most Wednesday nights. It is important to follow a few etiquette points to avoid collisions and to respect others’ use of the facilities.
- Don’t do warmup, recovery or cooldown jogs in lane 1; try lane 2 or 3 between intervals and lane 7 or 8 for warmup or cooldown.
- When not running, stand well away from the edge, not right outside or on the track.
- Look back in the direction of oncoming runners before stepping onto the track or starting an interval.
- Don’t step onto the track until ready to start running.
- Watch out for sprinters in lanes 3-6, especially when lining up to start an interval.
- Run in single file or at most 2 abreast if absolutely necessary, but NEVER 3+.
- If you’re running slower than 4:30 / km pace (1:48 / lap) during a normal workout, run in lane 2. If doing a time trial it`s OK to run in lane 1 regardless of your speed, but any time you see really fast people working out please consider showing them the courtesy of running in lane 2.
- If somebody calls out “course” or “track,” move to lane 2 after looking back to make sure lane 2 is clear.
- When passing someone, pass on the outside, not the inside, after making sure the outer lane is clear.
- Watch out for blind runners accompanied by guides and give them extra room when passing.
- If you accidentally bump another runner or clip one of their shoes, say, “Sumimasen.”
- When finishing an interval, don’t stop on the track. Keep moving and look back before you go out of your lane, then move off the track as soon as safely possible.
Race Entry and Etiquette
Racing is one of the cornerstones of Namban’s activity, be it on the road, track or trail, in an ekiden (long-distance relay), or in a triathlon. Some points to keep in mind:
- Race entry deadlines are long before the event, usually at least one month. Many races fill up before the application deadline, especially in the fall season.
- Most races can be entered online through Runnet or Sportsentry, but few have entry in English.
- If you have strong enough Japanese ability to handle online race entry, please volunteer to organize club entries for a race at least once in the year. A separate guide is available for entry organizers.
- When someone in the club is organizing entries and sends you the meeting time and place for that event, be there on time.
- Club identity is important here, so if possible wear a Namban Rengo shirt when you race. If running an elite-circuit race, you will probably be required to use the small-logo version of the singlet.
- Remember that when you are wearing a Namban shirt or registering in a race as a Namban member you are representing the club and all the other members and that your actions shape the club`s image in the Japanese running community.
- Make sure you know the rules for any particular race and follow them even if you disagree or can`t see their logic.
- Accept the decisions of race officials without arguing (especially if you have not taken the trouble to study the rules).
- Do not intentionally cheat, break rules, or falsify your entry and qualification information.
- Avoid verbal or physical conflict with other runners, officials, spectators, etc.
- Club policy is to discourage race entry substitution and number switching across nationalities, age groups or gender and to positively disallow one person running multiple stages in ekidens.
- Signing up for an ekiden means that you`re making a commitment to your teammates to run. Cancelling at the last minute prevents your teammates from participating.
As summarized from Wikipedia…
an ekiden (??) is a long-distance relay road race. As written in Japanese, ekiden combines the characters for “station” (?) and “transmit” (?). The original concept of the race hearkens back to Japan’s old T?kaid? communication and transportation system in which stations were posted at intervals along the road. In the race, each runner on a team runs the distance from one “station” to the next, and then hands off a cloth sash, or tasuki, to the next runner. The ekiden is considered to display many aspects of Japanese culture and spirit, including individual perseverance, identity within a group, and the importance within the Japanese hierarchy of allegiance to a group.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that an ekiden is more than just a relay race and that you should try to follow its customs. Some points to remember:
- The most important thing to be aware of is that when you sign up for an ekiden you’re making a commitment to your teammates. Cancelling at the last minute means that you are preventing the other people from running (or if they can run with a partial team, giving the team a Did Not Finish result).
- Most ekidens have a “call,” a time and place you must be present to show officials your number bib. Each ekiden is different; some have full-team calls, some individual, and some none. Find out the details on your call beforehand from whoever in Namban is organizing the ekiden.
- When you receive the tasuki, put it on across your chest and over one shoulder, tighten it as necessary, and tuck the loose end into your shorts. For this reason, organizers sometimes tell runners to tuck in their singlets.
- Don’t carry the tasuki in your hand until you approach the end of your stage.
- When handing off the tasuki, hold it horizontally between both hands at chest height.
- When receiving the tasuki, grab it in the middle between the previous runner’s hands. Don’t take the tasuki before the incoming runner crosses the handoff zone line, and don’t step on the line as you take the tasuki.
- If you are the anchor, don’t take off the tasuki before finishing.
- Don’t use unauthorized substitutes, especially one who has run another stage on your or another team.
Ideally in a club like this, everyone with sufficient language ability would take turns organizing entries for different races. If you are capable of filling out entry forms and reading regulations, please volunteer to organize an event. Some points to follow when organizing an event:
- Entry forms should be filled out fully, accurately and legibly.
- In the case of ekidens, you can ask entrants to pay in advance at the time of registration; cancellation results in the entrant’s fees paying for the replacement or going into the club treasury.
- At the time of entry, ekiden teams should include a designated alternate (or two) not running on another team, particularly for ekidens which allow designated alternates.
- If you organize an event, you are responsible not only for filling out the entry forms, but for actively communicating all important information to runners, including time, place, directions, details about the call if any, and idiosyncrasies of the particular race, and for actively confirming that participants know and understand the rules and necessary information. You should give a short verbal reconfirmation of rules and relevant info to all runners in a short group meeting before people run.
Arakawa is a river running on the north side of Tokyo. A path alongside the river is the site of the Arakawa Marathon in March. Accessible from various train stations, including Akabane on the Saikyo Line, this is a good area for a long run or bike ride.
The Imperial Palace
The wide sidewalk around the perimeter of the Imperial Palace is the most central and popular place to run in Tokyo. Throughout the year many low-key races are held there, too. The course is accessible from Otemachi, Hibiya and Takebashi subway stations, and from the main Tokyo station. The loop, which does not cross any streets, is 4,974m going through the large Sakuradamon Gate and 5,026m staying on the sidewalk around the gate, so two loops inside and out is exactly 10K.
A large park in the western suburbs. Several loops are possible, the longest being 5.25km (kilos and arrows marked with yellow paint). Located between Hanakoganei (Seibu Shinjuku line) and Higashi Koganei (JR Chuo line), but closer to Hanakoganei, which is 23 mins from Takadanobaba, 25 mins from Seibu Shinjuku.
Komazawa Koen (Park)
This university sports park in southwestern Tokyo is home to one of Japan’s top ekiden teams. The park’s main attraction is a 2.148 km loop marked in 100m increments. An accurate half-marathon course is also marked. The park also has a 400m track located inside a stadium.Though it is not accessible to the public, there is a gym with showers and lockers there (near the 1300m mark on the running loop) that may be used for a moderate fee. An outdoor pool is also available during the summer. Located near Komazawa Daigaku station on the Den-En-Toshi line, 6 min. from Shibuya (JR Yamanote line).
Beyond Okutama, there is the Ushiroyama Rindo/Sanjo-no-Yu course if you can or want to spend an nice overnighter in the mountains.
Megurogawa (Meguro River)
Megurogawa (gawa=river) runs roughly parallel to the southwestern part of the JR Yamanote line, emptying into Tokyo Bay south of JR Shinagawa station. The river has two distinct sections divided by a major road, Tamagawa Dori (also known as Route 246 or ni-yon-roku from the Japanese for “two four six”). The river passes under ni-yon-roku near Ikejiri-Ohashi station (on the Den-en-Toshi line 2 min. from Shibuya Station).
The footpath circumnavigating the outside perimeter of the Akasaka Palace, aka State Guest House or, more colloquially, Gosho, provides a popular 3.3 km running loop that incorporates two quite challenging hills. The course is located within a short distance of Shinanomachi or Yotsuya stations (JR Sobu Line) or Aoyama-sanchome Station (Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line). A little further to run to get to the course is Sendagaya Station (JR Sobu Line), but Tokyo Gymnasium is nearby and offers access to the training gym and showers for 450 yen.
Located across from Yoyogi-koen in Harajuku, the Oda Field 400-m running track is a well-kept facility originally built for the 1964 Olympics. Today it is operated by Shibuya Ward and open to the public Tuesday to Thursday and on certain weekend days each month. In addition, when the track is not rented, it is usually open for use by anyone. A schedule is posted outside the gate. The open hours are 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day.
Namban Rengo trains at Oda Field every Wednesday night, starting at around 7:00 p.m. (warm-up) and finishing at around 8:00 p.m. A locker-room equipped with showers is available for use whenever the track is open. Click here for more information and a map.
Okumusashi Ekiden Course
If you’re willing to travel a bit or can think of it as an excuse to see the fringes of the Kanto area, there are some courses I’d recommend for Mt. Fuji training.
Tamagawa (Tama River)
The Tama River has wide bike paths on both sides extending for many miles in the southern part of Tokyo. Excellent areas for running are accessible from many train stations, some of which have coin lockers that make them ideal as a starting and finishing point for a long run.
An engineering relic dating back to feudal times and designated as a national cultural treasure, the Tamagawa Josui begins at the Tamagawa near Haijima station in western Tokyo and extends into central Tokyo, functionally as far as Shinjuku station. The most popular section for running extends from Haijima to just east of Koganei Koen between Tanashi (Seibu Shinjuku line) and Musashi Sakai (JR Chuo line). This section is primarily tree-lined dirt trails along the stream. Heading toward central Tokyo from this point, the Josui also passes through Inokashira Koen, a nice mid-sized park in Kichijoji (JR Chuo line and Keio Inokashira line).
A former train line converted into a paved, tree-lined cycling/running course with distances marked. The path starts at the Tamagawa Josui between Tanashi (Seibu Shinjuku line) and Musashi Sakai (JR Chuo line) and extends all the way out to and around Tamako, a lake in western Tokyo and site of a popular ekiden. This area is suitable for long runs and easily accessible from a variety of stations on the Seibu Shinjuku line, the easiest being Hana-Koganei, 20 min. from Takadanobaba (JR Yamanote line). At Hana-Koganei, exit the ticket wicket, turn right and go down the stairs. The Jitenshado is on the far side of the bus circle. Left heads back toward Tokyo, right goes out toward Tamako.
Wakojurin Koen, which is actually two mid-sized parks straddling the Tokyo-Saitama border, features a nice 3km cross-country loop, a 1km track-surface loop with each 100 m marked, and one of the only public-access 400 m tracks in Tokyo. Located near Wakoshi station on the Tobu Tojo line, 12 min. from Ikebukuro (JR Yamanote line).
Yoyogi Koen (Park)
Yoyogi Park is one of the most popular locations in central Tokyo for training runs. It is accessible from JR Harajuku station and Meiji-jingumae subway station. The entrance is off Inokashira Dori. Out of Harajuku Station walk back toward Shibuya, soon turning right to cross the bridge over the railway lines, then left past the entrance to Meiji Shrine (careful, running is forbidden in there), then right again and the entrance is on your right…you can’t miss it. For years, runners have marked off many courses inside Yoyogi-koen. The longest route, comprising dirt and woodchip paths around the outside of the park, extends nearly 3 kilometers. The longest route on asphalt will take you about 1.8 kilometers.
Does not include trail races and ultras.
1st Sunday — Shibamata (Tokyo) 10K.
2nd Sunday — Ibusuki Nananohana Marathon (Kagoshima).
2nd Sunday — Takanezawa Genki Up Half Marathon (Tochigi).
2nd Sunday — Ushiku 10K (Ibaraki).
3rd Sunday — Chiba Marine Half Marathon (Makuhari area). Usually a large group of Namban members run it. Can be very windy. Freezing rain has also made it “fun”.
3rd Sunday — Shibuya Ekiden. In Yoyogi Park. Teams of four running about 2.5k. Many Namban members participate. Mika Tokairin organizes teams a month or two ahead.
3rd Sunday — Akabane Half Marathon (Tokyo, just above Ikebukuro).
3rd Sunday — Frostbite Half Marathon & 5K on Yokota Air Force Base.
4th Sunday — Shinjuku Half Marathon and 10K. Entry from Sept. 17 (2020 race)
4th Sunday — Katsuta Marathon (Ibaraki).
4th Sunday — Tateyama Wakashio Marathon and 10K (Boso peninsula in Chiba). Views of ocean and flowers. Namban group usually participates. Entry Sept. 20 to Oct. 31.
4th Sunday — Osaka Half Marathon. Entry Oct. 2—Nov. 8 (2019)
1st Sunday — Kanagawa Half Marathon. Usually a large group of Namban members.
1st Sunday — Beppu-Oita (Betsudai ) Marathon (Beppu, Kyushu). Elite/semi-elite race, requires qualification time of 3:30 (general), sub-3 (semi-elite)
1st Sunday — Sakae Half Marathon (Niigata).
2nd Sunday — Ehime Marathon (full). On Shikkou island. Y15,000. Applications Aug. to Sept. 30. Has been called a fantastic race.
3rd Sunday — Kyoto Marathon. Big marathon through the city. Y17,000. Entry opens on Sept. 30 and fills up fast.
3rd Sunday — Ome Marathon. 30K has 15,000 runners. 10K for men and women over 40 has 4,000. One of Japan’s oldest races. 1hr+ west of Shinjuku. Entry Sept 20—26. Fills up fast. Many Namban members participate.
3rd Sunday — Lake Saiko (Saitama) 30K.
3rd Sunday — Kochi Ryoma Marathon (Kochi). Entry from Sept. 14.
4th Sunday — Fukaya Half Marathon and 5K (Saitama).
4th Sunday — Shizuoka Marathon.
4th Sunday — Iwaki Sunshine Marathon (Fukushima). Full, 10K, 5K. Entry from Sept. 2.
4th Monday (holiday) — Naminori (Wave riding) Half Marathon. Togane, Chiba (east coast of Chiba). Entry Aug. 19 – Dec. 2 (2019). 3,000 runners. ¥5,000. togane-99-half.com
1st Sunday — Tokyo Marathon. Entry by lottery during August.
1st Sunday — Miura International Citizen’s Half Marathon and 5K. Miura kaigan (beach) on Keikyu Line (Kanagawa). Entry from Sept. 1.
1st Sunday — Chiba Kenmin Half Marathon.
2nd Sunday — Koga Hanamomo Marathon and 10K. Western Ibaraki, north of Tokyo. Flat course. Large number of Namban members participate.
2nd Sunday — Nagoya Marathon. Largest women’s marathon in the world (20,000).
2nd Sunday — Tachikawa City Half Marathon (Tokyo). 5,500 runners. Entry 11/1 – 11/30
2nd Sunday — Oyama Tozan (9.1K up a mountain). (Kanagawa). Entries open Nov. 1 and fill up fast.
2nd Sunday — Shizuoka Marathon (full). Flat and fast course, can be windy. Views of Mt. Fuji. One hour fm Tokyo by Shinkansen. Entry from Oct. 6 via JTB Sports Station (jtbsports.jp/en).
3rd Sunday — Itabashi Marathon (Tokyo).
3rd Sunday — Flower Half Marathon (Tachikawa, Tokyo).
21st (holiday, may be different day) — Tamako Ekiden (45 mins. west of Shinjuku on the Seibu Shinjuku line). Teams of four, each running 7.2K. About 100 teams. Also womens and mixed teams. Namban usually participates. Nice ekiden.
4th Sunday(?) — Ibaraki 100K
4th Sunday — Sakura Asahi Kenko Marathon. Old, good race.
4th Sunday — Kesennuma 10K. (Top of Miyagi). Very hilly.
4th Sunday — Tokushima Marathon. Entry Nov. 5 to Dec. 15 (2019) via JTB Sports Station (jtbsports.jp/en). ¥10,000. “Easy course.” 7-hour time limit.
2nd Sunday — Akabane Half Marathon.
2nd Sunday — Yokohama Road Race. 20K, 12K (yes 12). Small but nice race along the Tsurumi River near Kawasaki. Tsunashima station on Tokyu Toyoko line.
2nd Sunday — Kasumigaura Marathon and 10 Mile. (Ibaraki).
2nd Sunday — Momonosato 10K.
3rd Sunday — Adachi Goshiki Sakura Marathon (Half and 10K). Adachi-ku in Tokyo. Nice race, easy to get to. Can be hot.
3rd Sunday — Mt. Fuji 3, 4 and 5 Lakes Ultra Marathon (71K, 100K, 110K)>
3rd Sunday — Nagano Marathon. Large race, flat course. Can be hot.
4th Sunday — Gifu Half Marathon (Takahashi Naoko Cup). 10,000 runners. Entry via JTB Sports Station (jtbsports.jp/en) from Nov. 13 (2019). ¥8,500.
4th Sunday — Gyoda Half Marathon.
4th Sunday — Yukemuri 10K in Shiobara Onsen region (Ibaraki). Nice race through a quaint town, with long downhill then long uphill!
1st Sunday — Kasukabe Half (Saitama). May have to stop for a train!
1st Sunday — Paracup Half and 10K (on the Tamagawa), Large charity race.
2nd Sunday — Sendai Half. Big very good race in Sendai city. Namban organizes a group trip every year.
2nd Sunday — Fuji Susono Half and 10K. First 5K is uphill. Namban organizes a group trip every year.
3rd Sunday — Yokohama North Dock Ekiden. Good ekiden with teams of four running for 3 hours. Article on Namban website.
3rd Sunday — Karuizawa Half Marathon (Nagano). Very good, big race. Entry from mid-May.
3rd Sunday — Nobeyama 100K.
3rd Sunday — Oshu Kirameki Marathon (Tohoku).
3rd Sunday — Kashiwazaki Marathon (Niigata). Beautiful course.
4th Sunday — Yamanaka-ko Road Race (Half). Yamanashi.
1st Sunday — Tokyo East Run 30K.
4th Sunday — Cabbage Marathon. Half. (Gumma)
4th Sunday — MacDonald’s House charity ekiden at Ajinomoto Stadium in Chofu, Tokyo.
(There are lots of trail races in June.)
1st Sunday — Hakodate Marathon, Hokkaido.
2nd Sunday — Obuse Half Marathon. Usually brutally hot, but was coolish in 2019. Have to go the day before, but it’s a nice town, with sake breweries for after the race.
4th Sunday — Fuji Tozan (Mt. Fuji climbing race). 21K and 15K. Cutoff times are enforced.
4th Sunday — Namban Rengo trip to Kamakura. Run, hang out in beach house.
1st—31st — Application period for Tokyo Marathon lottery.
1st Saturday (?) — Hanno Fireworks 10K (Hanno is west of Tokyo, at the end of the Seibu Ikebukuro line). Beginner-friendly trail run organized by Tokyo Trail Runners. Fireworks in the evening.
4th Sunday — Hokkaido Marathon. People expect cool weather, but it’s always hot.
4th Sunday — Namban Rengo trip to Kamakura.
2nd Sunday — Irish Run the World charity 5K on the Tamagawa. Entry from early July.
2nd Sunday — Satoyama 20K in Gifu.
3rd Saturday — Tachikawa Cosmo 30K/Half/10K. Nice small race in Showa Kinen Koen park in Tachikawa (western Tokyo). Entry from June.
3rd Sunday — Tazawako Marathon & 20K/10K. Senhoku, Akita. Course goes around beautiful lake. Onsen (hot springs) nearby. Have to go day before. Entry from early June.
3rd Sunday — Watarase Half/10K/5K. Good race around a lake in Saitama. Is usually quite hot, however. Entry April 10—Aug. 19.
3rd(?) Sunday — Ichinoseki 10K.
3rd(?) Sunday — Abashiri Marathon in northern Hokkaido.
1st Sunday — Nagareyama 10K. Chiba. Bob P’s favorite 10K. Mostly flat course with 5 up/downs to make it interesting. 4,000 runners. Entry from June 1. 9 Nambanners ran in 2019.
1st Sunday — Aizu Tsuruga Castle Half Marathon (Fukushima). Slightly hilly course, with possibility of being stopped at two (!) train crossings. 11 Nambanners ran in 2019.
1st Sunday — Tamagawa Marathon Grand Prix. Full, Half, more? From 8am.
1st Sunday — Matsumoto Marathon (Nagano). Full. Entry Mar. 2 – June 30.
2nd Monday (holiday) — Green Ribbon Festival in Komazawa Park. Full relay (2-10 runners), Half, 10K. Half is 9 loops, but not as bad as it sounds.
2nd Sunday — Chuo-ku 10K.
2nd Sunday — Sapporo Half Marathon. 15,000 runners. Entry from June 12.
3rd Sunday — Koshu Fruits Marathon, Yamanashi. Half and 10K. From the start, you go uphill for 5k. Namban Rengo always organizes a trip to the race.
3rd Sunday — Turtle Marathon in Adachi. Along Arakawa River. Half, more?
3rd Sunday — Karuizawa Resort Marathon. (Nagano) Half and 10K. Entry from mid-May. Nice course, good event.
4th Sunday — Edogawa-Shibamata Marathon. Full. Along Edo river.
4th Sunday — Kanazawa Marathon.
4th Sunday — Teganuma Eco Half Marathon.
1st Sunday — Futakotamagawa Marathon. Half (9:00) and 10K (9:10). Along Tamagawa across the river from Futakotamagawa sta.
1st Sunday — Gunma Marathon.
1st Sunday — Kiokawa Half Marathon.
1st Sunday (TBD) — Namban 10K/Half & BBQ. Tamagawa BBQ area.
1st Sunday — Tamba Roadrace. 10K. 1-hour bus ride from Kyoto. Entry from July 1.
2nd Saturday — Knights in White Lycra 55K, 21K and 10K along the Arakawa. Charity run (not race) for a children’s home. See KIWL website.
2nd Sunday — Yokohama Marathon. Flat course through the city.
2nd Sunday — Tamagawa Marathon Grand Prix. Full, Half, 10K From 8am. Entry until Oct. 24. Same place as above.
2nd Sunday — 246 Half Marathon. Setagaya, Tokyo. Flat course. Some top college runners participate.
3rd Sunday — Toda Half & 10K. Saitama. Bob P’s favorite Half. Nice flat course around a lake. Start/finish in big park. Big but not too big. Easy to get to. Entry from July 24.
3rd Sunday — Kobe Marathon. IAAF Bronze Label marathon. Entry in July.
23rd — Otawara Marathon & 10K. Tochigi. Flat until gradual uphill last 5k. Popular with Namban members. Possible to go in the morning.
//Otawara may be discontinued in 2020//
4th Sunday — Tsukuba Marathon. Ibaraki. Flat course. Good for PBs. Easy to get to. Entries close quickly.
4th Sunday — Mt. Fuji Marathon. Kawaguchi-ko (lake). Flat, but steep 600m hill in second half. Have to go the night before. Entry April 19—Sept. 30 but fills up fast.
1st Sunday — Okutama Ekiden. Western Tokyo. Old, traditional ekiden. Men’s and women’s teams. Namban always enters several teams. Call for entries in September by Bob Poulson.
1st Sunday — Shonan Marathon. Kanagawa. Entry from end of May. Good points: 1) from Tokyo you can go in the morning and get back in the afternoon; 2) flat, fast course; 3) by the beach with view of Fuji-san for 20km; 4) some people prefer marathons with wide open spaces as opposed to being confined into crowded streets; 5) easy to get in as a foreigner. However, can be very windy.
1st Sunday — Osaka Marathon. Major race, popular with Namban
members – several PBs each year. Flat, but has many u-turns.
1st Sunday — Minato City Half Marathon.
2nd Saturday — Akabane Marathon — 3/4 marathon, Half, Quarter, 5k, 20k 4-person relay. Starts 10:50/11:00/11:10. Not a big event. https://akabane-marathon.tokyo
2nd Sunday — Saitama Marathon. Course has long stretches with none or few spectators and many up/downs such as highway overpasses, so it’s kind of boring and kind of tough. Big field, though.
3rd Sunday — Kanto 10 mile & 10K. Narita. Entry from early July.
4th Sunday — Year-end Half Marathon. Showa Kinen Koen. Tachikawa. Some top runners run this race.
If you enjoy running on well-maintained trails, sometimes steep and technical, Japan is definitely the place to come. The whole country is literally covered with mountains, and every one of them has a network of hiking trails all over it.
There is a fantastic series of hiking maps (山と高原地図 – Yama to Kogen Chizu) available in any bookshop for about 900 yen, which show all the trails.
For trail running around Tokyo, there are a number of good options.
Take a Chuo Line train from Shinjuku (you may have to change trains at Tachikawa and Ome, if you can’t get a direct Ome Express from Shinjuku), and get off at the end of the line at Okutama station. In fact, you can get off pretty much anywhere along the line from about Futamata onwards and there are trails all over the place. The map sheet is number 23, covering the whole area. Popular peaks are Mitake-san, Otake-san, Hinode-san, Gozen-san, Kawanori-yama and Mito-san (san and yama both mean mountain in Japanese, but some peaks are called san and some are yama, for no apparent reason).
If you want a nice classic 2.5 hour run in this area then I’d recommend taking the Chuo Line from Shinjuku to Haijima, changing for the Itsukaichi Line and getting off at Musashi-Itsukaichi (the end of the line). From there you can run up a ridgeline called the Konpira-one (one means ridge) up to Hinode-san, along to Mitake-san, and then down a trail on the other side to Hatonosu, where there is a nice little onsen (hot spring) down by the river, where you can take a hot bath afterwards.
Plenty of stuff to do here. Take an Odakyu Line train from Shinjuku station to Hakone-Yumoto at the end of the line. From there, take a bus from outside the station to Hakonoe Motomachi on the shore of Lake Ashi (Ashinoko… ko means lake). It’s possible to run around the lake, a 20km circuit, along roads on one side, and then hiking trail on the other side. It’s a really lovely circuit, and highly recommended… great scenery.
There are also several nice peaks you can run up around there, most notably Myoujingatake and Kintoki-yama.
For Hakone you need map sheet number 29.
This is an area aout 2/3 of the way down the Odakyu Line towards Hakone. It’s characterized by steep trails, lots of landslides, but great views of Mt Fuji to the north and the Izu islands out to sea to the south. There are lots of great runs here, particularly Ohyama and Tonodake, plenty of trails so you can pick and choose your route if you have the map. You need map number 28 for this. It’s a fairly tough area though, so might not be your best choice for your first Japanese trail run.
The Mt. Takao Area
Mt. Takao is a busy and popular little peak about 50mins from Tokyo, either on the Chuo Line or the Keio Line, both from Shinjuku. You can run up and down it in a little over an hour. Or you can extend it by running the ridgeline to Jinba-san and back, if you want a longer run.
Mt. Takao can be very crowded with hikers, however.
The valley beyond Takao is also lined with peaks and trails on both sides all the way to Otsuki station and beyond. I’ve run pretty much all of them and can recommend all of them. For this area you need map number 27, and the access is simple. Just take a Chuo Line train from Shinjuku and start running from whichever station you get off at.
If you prefer something flatter, you can take a short train ride northeast of Tokyo to a huge lake called Inba-numa (numa means marsh), and run the circumference of that. It’s something around 30km, and is a really picturesque place. You need to take a Keisei Line train fron Keisei Ueno, changing at Katsutadai for a train to Keisei Usui for this one. It takes under an hour, and the whole journey is only 640yen.
Depending on when you come, there may or may not still be snow, so if you have a pair of microspikes or something similar it might be worth packing them. For most of these areas you should be fine in just trainers though.
Mt. Mitake to Tsuru Tsuru Onsen (Hot Springs) and Mt. Takamizu to Mt. Mitake
For detailed information on these two good routes, which are on the Ome line, in English and Japanese, see Outdoor Japan Traveler magazine
Aoki Tetsuo Chiropractor
Chiropractor and personal trainer. Offers chiropractic treatment, body strengthening, improved sleeping comfort and nutrition advice. Will come to your home. Session lasts one hour and starts from 5,000 yen.
He is the brother of Namban member Satoe Aoki. He fixed Michael Tandler’s sore shoulders and forehead pain in one session.
Langauge: Japanese preferred, but English is ok.
National health insurance: No
Arisugawa Orthopaedic Clinic
Orthopaedic clinic. Located near the Hiroo station (close to the “National Azabu” supermarket) They can speak English (not perfectly though) and the doctor specializes in sports injuries. They accept National Health insurance.
Asia Physio, formerly Tokyo Physio, is a very good physiotherapy clinic that has been serving the foreign community since 2002. It’s run by Aussies Bevan and Vanessa Colless, both high level triathletes. They have a well trained staff of therapists. It’s on the expensive side, as they do not accept health insurance. Generally, the first visit, where they do a thorough analysis of your injury, costs ¥12,000 and subsequent visits ¥6,000 (approx.). However, you will be getting top quality diagnosis and advice, including email followups. They also have a very good English-speaking Japanese woman masseuse.
Services include “running biomechanical assessments” and “ergonomic consultations.”
Where: 104 Atrium Shirokane, 5-12-27 Shirokane, Minato-ku.
8 mins. walk from Hiroo station and 12 mins. from Ebisu.
Check the map on the website as it is not so easy to find the first time. (Bob: I always walk from Ebisu, passing some interesting shops and restaurants.)
Tel: 03-3443-6769 (reservation required)
National Health Insurance: No
Founded by personal trainer Nathan Schmid and physiotherapist Sam Gilbert, Club 360 has a staff of 10 trainers and therapists. It offers a full range of physiotherapy programs for the treatment of injuries and maintenance of health. Massage is also available. In terms of training, Club 360 offers classes in body conditioning, fat loss and toning, sport specific programs, pre and post natal, and running development. Boxing, kickboxing and karate coaches are also on the staff, for learning self-defense, honing your fighting skills or working out. Fitness classes for adults and kids include Fit 360 (circuit training), core & cardio, women’s strength and outdoor bootcamp.
Where: On Terebi Asahi dori a little ways behind Roppongi Hills
Reservations: Required (can be made via their website)
National Health Insurance: No
Jikei Iidai, a university in Shimbashi, counts among its facilities a major public hospital with an excellent sports clinic. If you have had trouble getting an injury properly diagnosed, this may be the place you should visit next. The doctors there are true sports medicine specialists, a “fitness testing” facility with Cybex equipment and running machines is operated for further diagnosis, and English is spoken by at least one of the doctors on staff. Note, however, that the doctors on staff seem to have demanding teaching and other responsibilities, so they only work in the sports clinic on a part-time basis. Beyond diagnosis and a treatment plan, you shouldn’t expect to receive a lot of follow up attention.
Hours: Contact the facility for doctors’ hours
Reservations: First-time patients are attended to on a first-come, first-serve basis. Aim to arrive at the clinic before 8:00 a.m. when the reception opens. If you request to be treated at the sports clinic, you may be first directed to the general orthopaedic department. In that case it may be worth seeking “gaijin immunity” and innocently wandering down to the Sports Clinic.
English: Expect little assistance in English at the reception desk, payment window, X-ray department, etc. But inside the Sports Clinic, Dr. Kono speaks more than passable English.
National Health Insurance: Yes (but note that unless you have a referral from another clinic, Jikei Iidai charges a one-time fee of 3,000 yen from each new patient).
K’s Sports Massage
Experts in sports massage, K’s serves Konica’s corporate running team, Japan’s top team of the past few years. Cost is 6,480 yen (50 minute session).
Reservations accepted for 25, 50, 75 and 90 minutes
Where: Ebisu 1-22-17, 4F, Shibuya-ku
Hours: 10:00 – 20:00
English: Some English spoken
National Health Insurance: No
K.air’s Kondo Sports Clinic
Close to Oda Field
Specialized in runners (for example, they take care of members of the Tokai university ekiden team).
First contact is made by phone – you can say you were introduced by Slyvain Dufros.
If it’s for an injury, you can use your social insurance. If not, you have to pay full price, 7020 yen for around 90 minutes. Not only treatment, they also give lots of advice.
First time is a bit more expensive (around 9,000 yen?)
Where: Wakei Bldg. 1F, Tomigaya 2-3-6, Shibuya-ku
English: Maybe not
National Health Insurance: Yes, for injuries
Namban Rengo member Mitsuhiro Matsuzaki (Mackey) operates a sports physio clinic near Yoyogi Hachiman station and the Hachimanyu sento. Excellent treatment at quite low prices (fully covered by national health insurance)
Massage, acupuncture, ultrasound, electro pulse, treatment of sprains,
aches, etc. Specializes in treating sports injuries.
Mackey himself is a strong triathlete and sub-3 hour marathoner.
Tim Williams says: Mackey got me through the Shizuoka marathon when my back had been stiffening up for a few weeks.
Where: Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 5-38-2 Hoshi Building No.1 151-0053
National Health Insurance: Yes
A small clinic specializing in sports injuries and physiotherapy, Nagai BSC has modern equipment and qualified staff, plus services are covered by national health insurance. You shouldn’t expect much in the way of diagnosis, but if you need an inexpensive option for basic physiotherapy, Nagai BSC is worth a look. It has been recommended by one club member.
Reservations: Not needed
English: Not spoken
National Health Insurance: Yes
Nishi Waseda Orthopedic
Good orthopedic clinic with an English-speaking doctor, who is there on Tuesdays. They have their own MRI machine, so you can get an MRI and also get the results at the same visit, rather than having to go to a different hospital, which is usually the case. It is a good idea to make a reservation for the MRI, the day I was there it was all booked up.
It opens at 9:00, best to get there at 8:30-40 and wait outside.
Where: 8-minute walk from Waseda station on the Tozai subway line. 15-minute walk from Takadanobaba.
Tel: 03-3209-6252 (MRI reservation: 3209-6255)
English: spoken (Tuesdays, Dr. Toyoda….I think)
National Health Insurance: Yes
State-of-the-art facility with excellent staff. Terapi Master equipment and various digital imaging, including dynamic footprint imaging, are used to diagnose the source of misalignment and muscular-skeletal imbalances. Two runners with long-term injuries who were unable to receive proper diagnosis and treatment elsewhere in Tokyo have commented positively on the course of treatment they received from the Physio Center.
Though not focused only on sports injuries, the Physio Center is operated like a hybrid medical clinic-sports club. Patients pay a monthly membership fee, which entitles them to use the facility any time. Available equipment includes Cybex strength equipment, stationary bicycles, stretch balls, etc. An additional fee is charged for hour-long one-on-one physiotherapy sessions.
While not the best option for straightforward running injuries, the Physio center may be the best option in Japan for runners with postural misalignment problems requiring relentless long-term physiotherapy to correct.
Where: Toranomon 3-7-14 Minato-ku (closest station: Kamiyacho)
Hours: 11:00 – 20:00
English: Little English spoken
National Health Insurance: No
Yamate St. clinic
Acupressure/acupuncture treatment offered by an actual triathlete.
Runners and triathletes who have visited the clinic report outstanding results as the sensei seems to understand athletes bodies and issues very well.
He speaks English well.
How to get there: From Nakameguro Station, walk along Yamate Dori toward Shibuya for 5 minutes or so. On the left side of the road, you will come across a sign for the clinic, which is located on the 2nd floor.
Cost: 5,000 yen per session (one session lasts approx. one hour)
National Health Insurance: No
|Track Name||Location||Tel||Website||Nearest Station||Hours||Size||Fee|
|Mitsuzawa Park||3-1 Mitsuzawa-machi, Kanagawa-ku||045-548-5147||Website||Mitsuzawasocho Subway Station||9:00-21:00||400m x 8 lanes||¥0|
|Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium||1-17-1 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku||Website||Sendagaya Station||Weekdays 9:00～23:00 (last entry 22:00)|
Saturday 9:00～22:00 (last entry 21:00) / Sunday and holidays 9:00～21:00 (last entry 20:00)
|200m||¥200 for 2 hours|
|Oda field, Yoyogi Park||Yoyogi Park Service Center|
〒151 - 0052
2-1 Yoyogisamisono-cho, Shibuya-ku
|03-3469-6081||Website||Yoyogi Koen (Chiyoda line)||9: 00-12: 00 |
PM 13: 00-17: 00
Nighttime 18: 00-21: 00
|400m x 8 lanes||¥0|
|Shimiyama Stadium, Wadabori Athletic Park||Zenfukuji River Green Service Center |
|03-3313-4247||Website||Nishi Eifuku||Open to Public every Wednesday, first Sunday and third Saturday, and whenever not otherwise engaged||400m x 6 lanes||¥0|
|Shinagawa Chuo-Koen Park||1-27 NishiShinagawa, Shinagawa-ku||Website|
|Chuo University Tama Campus||742-1 Higashinakano, Hachioji-shi||Website|
|Komazawa Park||https://www.tef.or.jp/kopgp/opening.jsp||Komazawa Daigaku||Open to public when not rented out||400m x 8|
|Setagaya Gymnasium||4-chōme-6-1 Ōkura, Setagaya, Tōkyō-to 157-0074||03-3217-4276||https://www.se-sports.or.jp/sougou/||Open to public when not rented out||400m x 6|
|Nike Harajuku||Harajuku||Nike's flagship store. A lot of items from running to every other sport. A lot of stock|
|ART Sports||Shinjuku||Wide selection of shoes, wear, etc.||M - Sun: 11:00 - 20:00|
|ART Sports||Okachimachi||Wide selection of shoes, wear, etc.|
|Asics||Ginza||"M - F: 11:00 - 21:00
Sat/Sun: 9:00 - 19:00"
|Adidas Runbase||Hirakawacho Mori Tower||Store, showers, clothes/shoes rental||"M - F: 7 - 22:30
Sat/Sun: 7 - 20:00"
|Run boys! Run girls!||Higashi Kanda||M - Sun: 12:00 - 21:00|
|Step in Step||Shimokitazawa||A lot of brands, often has sales||M - Sun: 11:00 - 20:00|
|B&D||Shibuya||Wide selection of shoes, etc. Nice store next to Hikarie across from Shibuya station East exit. As you’re standing in front of Hikarie, facing it, go to the right. At the first street, turn left and it’s a little ways down on the right. In other words, the street that’s right next to Hikarie.|
Namban Rengo Marathon PBs
|NAME||M / F||Time||Race||Year||Age|
|Yuki Fukushima||m||2:44:02||Gold Coast||2019||34
|Bob Poulson||m||2:44:48||Kawaguchi-ko||A few years back||37|
|Eric Lebrasseur||m||2:57:26||Koga Hanamomo||2018||46|
|Romain Demare||m||2:59:48||Koga Hanamomo||2019||33|
|Nizar Grira||m||3:04:42||Koga Hanamomo||2017||38|
|Rika Homma||f||3:05:02||Osaka Women's||2020||40|
|Yosuke Kimura||m||3:09:53||Koga Hanamomo||2018|
|Erik Swedberg||m||3:11:58||California International||2017||31|
|Eliza Swedberg||f||3:13:06||Okhotsk Abashiri||2018||35|
|Yoko Fukuchi||f||3:27:41||Nagoya Women's||2019||52|
|Quoc Nguyen Kien||m||3:29:??||Tokyo||2019||37|
|Andrew Farmer||m||3:51:24||Tateyama Wakashio||2019||42|
|Glenn Rubin||m||3:56:09||Koga Hanamomo||2019||50|
|Yoshie Niitsuma||f||04:05:49||New York City||2011||N/A|
|Marcus Kosins Jr.||m||04:25:27||Honolulu||2017||59|