Join in the Tokyo ‘Nightlife’ – Imperial Palace Night Run


  1. Why the Imperial Palace?
  2. Best Way to Relax at Night – Run, Soak in a Public Bath, Eat
  3. Summary
A ‘running’ trend emerged in Tokyo after the Tokyo marathon was introduced in 2007. 9 years down the road and it seems like the trend has subsided a fair bit. However, just last year, a book titled “Why Are Most Imperial Palace Runners Earning an Annual Income of More Than 7 Million Yen?” (Naze Kōkyo Rannā no Daihan wa Nenshū 700 Man Ijyō Nanoka) drew much attention to the trend of running around the imperial palace in central Tokyo.

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Why the Imperial Palace?

The imperial palace is strategically located in the central business district in Tokyo. Most workers are stuck in the area until late in the evening and sedentary work is definitely a bane on health. Yet, finding a place to jog around the city would probably mean having to pay for a gym or fitness club membership. This signals commitment which is enough to make one think twice about the whole idea. Moreover, especially for ladies, safety is always a cause for concern when it comes to running in the night. The imperial run provides a great remedy to these troubles.

The tight security around the imperial palace naturally means that there are multiple guards around the area. This makes one feel extremely safe despite the lack of street lights around. Moreover, over the years, due to the popularity of the running course around the palace, there are many sports shops in one or two buildings’ radius around to support runners.

The distance of one round is approximately 5km. The distance may seem intimidating to some but there is no pressure as the usual crowd is filled with a whole range of individuals from beginners to professional runners, young and old. Also, night runs are less strenuous for the beginner runner as there is no fight against the heat. Although it gets a little cold in the winter, there are people participating in the exercise throughout the year.


Best Way to Relax at Night – Run, Soak in a Public Bath, Eat!

Not to mention, the cultural experience does not end with just the palace run! After the run, the next logical step is to wash up and in Japan, they do it in the traditional public bath. These public baths are great as places to store your belongings before the run and relax those worn-out muscles after the run. They also offer towel, soap and shampoo for a small charge as well. However, if it is your first time to a public bath, please read up on Japanese public bath etiquette before trying it out.

As Japanese are all about the late night drinking sessions, there are a couple of restaurants around for you to take your pick from after the bath. After a great workout, it is only right to treat yourself to a good meal and maybe some alcohol.


As to why many of the runners are high-income earners, it seems like a debatable topic. While some are inclined to think that having a healthy and active lifestyle is vital in becoming a successful salaried worker, others believe that the runners comprise mostly of rich residents around the area. Whichever the case, the imperial night run is definitely an interesting cultural experience.
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