January 25, 2016

Tokyo - Japan: Gates and Guards everywhere at Shinjuku

Takashimaya Times Square building looming over Shinjuku
Run date: 21/09/2015

I have a confession to make. This blog has been neglected, thanks to the extreme volatility of the financial markets that I have been writing and updating my other blog that I did not spend much time for my running blog. Bad bear has also gotten me back into DOTA 2 which I have been spending an hour or two every evening sending my heroes in an attempt to trash the enemy's fortress. The blog posts have been piling up and I have vowed to clear them in more rapid succession. Better time management and less DOTA 2 is needed!

Now, back to Japan....

Our last stop in our Japan trip, the metropolis of Tokyo which we spend most of our time scouring the shelves of Akihabara, visiting all the new tourist attractions like the Asakusa Skytree which was previously not opened during my last trip here and wondering around the huge exhibition halls of Tokyo Game Show. Although we spent 5 days at Tokyo, we probably spend most of our time walking and standing and by the time we reached our scheduled running morning for our Tokyo run at the last day of our entire Japan trip, the guys were totally exhausted. I tried to rouse Big Boned Guy and Alcoholic to get up and explore Shinjuku on running shoes but they answered me with snores and grunts.

Cursing at their lack of willpower, I decided to explore Shinjuku on my own.

I had high hopes that the running experience around Shinjuku will be fantastic given that the area between Shinjuku and Shibuya has some of the most extensive parks and greenery in central Tokyo and I had visited both places before as a tourist before.

My plan was pretty simple, run south towards Yoyogi Park and check out the Meiji Jingu Shrine  .   

A short 1KM run from my apartment and I have reached the northern entrance of Meiji Shrine. As I ran past the guard post, I was surprised by a loud yell behind me.


"Huh? Me?"

"No run here!"

"You mean I cannot run in the compound?"

"No run! Leave!"

That is certainly new! I did not know that running is prohibited at one of Tokyo's most important shrine. The last time I came as a tourist, I was certainly not warned that running is prohibited. Not willing to be wrestled to the ground by the security officials in the shrine should I decide to persist, I decided to head to another nearby famous park, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

The Street between Shinjuku and Yoyogi
The guard who did his duty too well at Meji Shrine
Heading in an eastward direction, I made my way to the park, only to find the gates of the park blocking my way. It seems like the park has been turned into a tourist attraction which opens from 9am-4pm and requiring 200 yen for admission and it is closed on Monday.

I am starting to appreciate all the parks and gardens in Singapore which requires no admission fee and long opening hours. Even Botanical Garden has no such restrictions and is opened from 5am to 12 midnight.

Blocked by guards and high fences, I decided to entertain myself by running around the circumference of the park, which is surrounded by blend residential apartments and office buildings. Of all the runs we had in Japan for this trip, this is probably my worst experience.

What was interesting was that I observed many signs around the park. I wondered what they meant.....

Closed! and admission fee of 200 Yen!
No dropping of books?
No illegal dumping?
Lots of traffic junctions around Shinjuku
Once I reached the north side of the park where the heart of Shinjuku is, the amount of traffic junctions multiplied quickly and my jog slowed to a walk. The easiest way to navigate this area is probably though the maze of underground tunnel below Shinjuku but I figured that the well dressed pedestrians will not look kindly on a strange sweating guy squeezing past them in the air-conditioned tunnels.

I gave up running and slowly walked back to my apartment after stopping at the 3rd traffic junction.

Readers of Unfit Runners, do you know of a better place to run in Tokyo other than the route which I tried? I will love to hear feedback from you in prep for my next Tokyo trip.


  1. I think the nicest run in Tokyo is around the Imperial Palace gardens - it's about 5km, but easy to do two loops :-)

  2. They actually let you run around the Imperial Palace gardens? I assumed that I will receive the same treatment as the Meji Shrine. Worth a try the next round!


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