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A Must for Runners! A Complete Guide to the Imperial Palace Running Course

The Imperial Palace grounds are located right next to Tokyo Station, and include a popular running course where you can run a roughly 5km circuit without having to stop at traffic lights. Going for a run during your vacation is an enjoyable experience that is different from any usual activities. With that, this article will serve as a comprehensive guide to that running course, called "Imperial Palace Run"!

Japan is Experiencing an Unprecedented Running Boom

Japan is in the midst of a running boom that started building around 2007, the first year of the Tokyo Marathon. Now, there are many marathons held in various areas around Japan, and there are even television shows based on "tabi-run," which is the concept of traveling to a new location to compete in a marathon.
There is plenty of stylish and colorful running wear to be purchased from sports goods shops, and there are also many running courses outfitted with showers and lockers within Tokyo, so it is quite easy to enjoy running during your vacation.

What is the Imperial Palace Run?

The Imperial Palace Run is the name for the running course that circles around the Imperial Palace. There are no traffic lights or road crossings along this roughly 5km course, so you will be able to run the whole way without breaking your pace!
When running the course counter-clockwise, the area between Sakuradamon Gate and Takebashi Bridge is flat, the stretch of land from Takebashi Bridge to Chidorigafuchi Park is uphill, the area from Chidorigafuchi Park to Hanzomon Gate is flat, and the stretch from Hanzomon Gate to Sakuradamon Gate is downhill, resulting in a course with a total change in elevation of a moderate 26m.

What is the Imperial Palace Run?

1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Highlights of the Imperial Palace Run

While there are many other running courses within Tokyo at large parks and the like, the Imperial Palace Run enjoys consistent, strong popularity with runners. The reasons for that are the beautiful views, the easy access, and the maintenance of facilities and public safety.
First, the Imperial Palace grounds are full of greenery as well as scenic stone walls and a moat. While running on the course, you can enjoy views of Sakuradamon Gate, the National Diet Building, and Tokyo Tower. Another great point is that since the Imperial Palace is located in the center of Tokyo, there are several train stations in the vicinity. In fact, there are ten stations with access to the Imperial Palace: Tokyo Station, Yurakucho Station, Hibiya Station, Kasumigaseki Station, Nijubashimae Station, Otemachi Station, Kudanshita Station, Takebashi Station, Hanzomon Station, and Sakuradamon Station. There are running stations with showers and lockers as well as public toilets, and there is very tight security due to it being the Imperial Palace, so you can run safely there even during nighttime.
Now you can see why this convenient and running-friendly environment is endorsed by runners!

Don't Miss These Must-See Views from the Imperial Palace Run!

While you can start your run from anywhere along the Imperial Palace Run, the following will be an introduction to the sights you will see in order when making a full loop starting at Sakuradamon Gate, a popular starting spot among runners.
When you cross under the impressive Sakuradamon Gate and enter into the Imperial Palace grounds, the first landmark will be the clock tower. If you run just a bit more and then look behind you, you will be able to see Tokyo Tower. If you look to your right, you will be able to see the front of Tokyo Station. Run further along the moat and go up and down the hills to arrive at Chidorigafuchi Park, which is famous for its sakura (cherry blossom) trees, as well as the view in the spring that is so scenic, it looks like a photograph.
If you've come this far, you're almost done. You will see the National Theater of Japan, where Kabuki and other types of performances are held, and the National Diet Building, with its unique architecture, pass by on your right side. Finally, you will pass by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department before arriving back at your starting place, Sakuradamon Gate.

Don't Miss These Must-See Views from the Imperial Palace Run!

Things to Watch Out For

While running the Imperial Palace Run, the most important thing to be careful of is that you don't interfere with other runners. When running, make sure that you are always going counter-clockwise on the left side of the path, and when the path gets narrow, please run in a single line even if you are running with a partner. The pathways are increasingly used by businessmen in the morning and at night, so it is recommended to run during mid-day when it is less crowded.
Another thing to take notice of is that there are certain places within the Imperial Palace surroundings where walking is allowed but running is prohibited. For example, Nijubashi Bridge is a popular sightseeing spot located near the Sakuradamon Gate clock tower, and the nearby Nijubashimae Plaza has "no running" signs posted, so running is not allowed in this area. If you want to visit Nijubashi Bridge, then you can take a left at the clock tower plaza, see the bridge, and then return to the running course by walking. It's a good option for cooling down after your run!

Imperial Palace Run is a place where you can run while enjoying refreshing greenery, despite being in the middle of a giant city. It also lets you view Tokyo from a perspective different from sightseeing. Please use this guide as a reference and try running the Imperial Palace Run for yourself!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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