Four Great Park Runs in West Tokyo: Have You Been?

written by Alain (contributing writer)

Explore a different side of Tokyo with its western parks! To the surprise of many, Tokyo offers many beautiful park routes easily accessible by public transport.

Whether you’re a visitor from abroad, a long-term resident, or a new PCS arrival to Yokota AB, we think you’ll be impressed by the available options. Even better, these routes only take a few hours. Afternoon off? Jump on a train, have fun and get back before dinner. 

Before we dive in, here are the criteria we set to deliver this list of park runs. 

As enjoyable city life is, sometimes you just want to pull the plug, throw on your running gear and enjoy a day outdoors.

Course Criteria

  • Only park walkways and secondary roads with no traffic
  • Starts and ends within one hour west from Shinjuku
  • Coin lockers and convenience stores at start and end
  • Have water fountains, vending machines, and toilets (or relevant warnings!)

Compared to going more off the beaten path, the city will occasionally peek at the corner of your sight (and your ears!), but Tokyo parks are often lush, majestic and of course, impeccably maintained. You shouldn’t struggle to forget about cars and concrete buildings!

So what are you waiting for? Get on the train with your favorite running shoes, grab a tasty onigiri when you arrive and you’re ready to start.

A WALK IN THE PARK?

All routes are enjoyable for walkers as they are for runners.

If you prefer to go for a stroll, simply double the running time shown on the route. Also, please remember that you might need to cross the odd bit of suburbia before getting to the parks, and that can feel longer when walking.

KIDS PLAY

Close, pretty and easy, these routes are ideal for a day with children.

Just bag plenty of drinks and snacks before leaving and prepare yourself for detours and unexpected stops as your little hikers and runners discover cute doggies, spiky bushes, crinkly leaves and so on…

The Trails

The Spectacular Landscaping of Tama Central Park

Points of interest

  • Sanrio Purolando (Hello Kitty’s theme park)
  • Lake and fields of Tama Central park
  • Fuji views of Fujimi-dori
  • Bamboo hill of Tsurumaki Nishi Park
Fujimi-dori in Spring
Fujimi-dori in spring
Tama Parthenon
Tama Parthenon
  • Starts from a major station
  • Great photo spots
  • Sakura trees and Fuji views
  • Short

After leaving the whimsical profile of Sanrio Purolando to your left, run through Tama Central Park and towards the Fuji views and cherry-blossoms of Fujimi-dori and Tsurumaki.

From here, turn north for the pretty hills of Tsurumakiyama and Tsurumaki Nishi Park, before turning west and ending at Karakida station.

Tsurumaki Nishi Park
Tsurumaki Nishi Park

Start: Keio-Tama Center 多摩センター駅 (24 min from Shinjuku) or Odakyu-Tama Center 小田急多摩センター駅 (39 min from Shinjuku)

Finish: Karakida Station 唐木田駅 (40 min from Shinjuku)

Length: 4.5 km (45 min running)

Ascent: 93 m / Descent: 84 m

Paved footpath: 90%, Road: 10

Tama central park course map
Course map (click to view on Google Maps)
tama central park elevation profile
©️ trackreport.net

Bonus

  • If you fancy a picnic, both stations have large supermarkets nearby
  • Gokuraku public bath (600 m from Tama Center st.)

The Miniature Peaks of Ikuta Ryokuchi Park

Central woods of Kinuta park ©️ Karnad H.

Points of interest

  • Lush woods of Ikuta Ryokuchi Park
  • Modern art museum
  • Observatories of Mt. Masugata and Mt.Iimuro
  • Just 25 minutes from Shinjuku
  • Many hills to climb and sights to see
  • Pretty areas to the south are isolated by a golf course
View from Mt. Masugata observatory
View from Mt. Masugata observatory

Kitanoten Shrine offers the first surprise (and climb!) of the day. After that, it’s all a succession of ups, downs and highlights: down to the rice paddies of the “firefly village” (ホタルの里), up through the open-air architecture museum, then down to the modern art museum.

Then it’s up again to Tsutsuji mountain and down to the lovely quiet of the central wood. From here, one last climb to the viewing platforms of Mt. Masugata and Mt.Iimuro before the last stretch of forest descent.

Start and finish: Mukōgaoka-Yūen 向ヶ丘遊園駅 (22 min from Shinjuku)

Length: 6 km (90 min running)

Ascent: 224 m / Descent: 223 m

Park walkway: 40%, Road: 40%, Trail: 20%

The Miniature Peaks of Ikuta Ryokuchi Park map
Course map (click to view on Google Maps)
ikuta elevation profile
©️ trackreport.net (elevation profile)
Modern Art Museum
Modern Art Museum

Bonus

  • The soba restaurant at the park should re-open in summer 2020
  • Cafeteria of the Science museum
  • Bagel Company at the base of the route
  • Tonmori, the southern tip of the park with rice paddies and bamboo thickets
  • Art Museum, Architecture Museum, Science Museum and Fujiko F. Fujiyo (Doraemon) Museum

The Autumn Magic of Toritsu-Sakuragaoka Park

Points of interest

  • Treed boulevards of Hijirigaoka
  • Viewing platforms and panoramas of Toritsu-Sakuragaoka park
  • Japanese maples for stunning fall foliage
  • Nice open views at the top
  • Some suburban crossing
Hijirigaoka in Autumn
Hijirigaoka in Autumn ©️ Nakamura M.
Toritsu-Sakuragaoka park map
Course map

Start and finish: Keiō-nagayama 京王永山駅 (40 min from Shinjku) or Odakyu Nagayama 小田急永山駅 (36 min from Shinjuku)

Length: 8.09 km (90 min running)
Ascent: 250 m / Descent: 263 m
Paved footpath: 75% / Road: 15% / Trail: 10%

After crossing a sports field, a brief stretch of road and a staircase, the route finally reaches the treed pedestrian boulevards of Tama Hijirigaoka, especially stunning in autumn.

After crossing Oyato park and climbing through a local road, take a sharp turn right on the stone staircase just after the rice paddy (keep your eyes open!).

From there, you will reach the top of Toritsu-Sakuragaoka park, with open views over the Tama River and Mt. Fuji before climbing down again (with a brief detour to another Fuji observatory). A relaxing local run through local parks and residential zones will then take you back to the station.

Toritsu-Sakuragaoka park elevation profile
©️ trackreport.net (elevation profile)
Viewing platforms in Toritsu-Sakuragaoka park
Viewing platforms in Toritsu-Sakuragaoka park
Panorama from the top of Toritsu-Sakuragaoka park

Bonus

  • Big-A supermarket, right at the start of Hirijugaoka
  • Turn east at Tama Higashi Park and cross the bridge to reach Yokoyama No Michi, a major trail in the area
  • Taketori-No-Yu onsen, just behind the station

The Nostalgic Countryside of the Totoro Forests

Higashi Murayamashi Kitayama Park
Higashi Murayamashi Kitayama Park ©️ Monasch J
Hatogamine Hachiman Shrine ©️ Nozaki Y.

Points of interest

  • Rice paddies of Higashi Murayamashi Kitayama Park
  • Forests of Hachikokuyama Park
  • Arahata Fuji votive hill
  • Yamaguchi dam and Sayama Lake
  • Beautiful lake views
  • Pretty shrines
  • A fun miniature Fuji
  • Final station on a minor line
  • Some suburban crossing

Go north from Higashimurayama station, through Bentenchi Park shrine and into the rice paddies of Higashi Murayamashi Kitayama Park. After crossing the railway, head east through the forest of Hachikokuyama Park and then north into a quaint group of little shrines.

After turning west through Totoro Forest #2, a short stretch of suburbia takes you to the fujizuka of Arahata Fuji. After snapping a photo from the “peak”, go north to Shjimoyamaguchi station.

After crossing a few tea fields, you will turn west along a pedestrian path leading into Totoro Forest #1. After which, you will be ready to head south along Yamaguchi dam and Sayama Lake and down to the baseball stadium

Start: Higashimurayama 東村山駅 (35 min from Shinjuku)

Finish: Seibukyujo-Mae Station 西武球場前駅 (60 min from Shinjuku)

Length: 12.04 km (100 min running)

Ascent: 333 m / Descent: 281 m

Paved footpath: 40% / Road: 40% / Trail: 20%

Totoro Forests map
Course map
©️ trackreport.net
Yamaguchi dam

Bonus

  • 7-Eleven around 30% of the way and Shinei-do superette before Shimoyamaguchi station
  • Multiple trails on the west side of Sayama Lake (all the way to Hakonegasaki)
  • The Tamako Jitenshado cycling route loops around Tama Lake and all the way down to Mitaka
  • Yasaka Shrine, west of Higashimurayama
  • Makkuro Kurosuke house, 15 minutes from the northern tip of the route, is a traditional farmhouse that hosts the Totoro Fund (forest protection non-profit), a Ghibli gift-shop and a giant Totoro statue

FURTHER READING

Explore further on your own
(basic Japanese necessary)

Odakyu Walks (click here)
• Well prepared routes around the Odakyu lines. An app is also available. 

丘歩き30 東京ウエストサイド神奈川 (click here)
• Explore 30 walks in west Tokyo

About the Author

Alain

Alain is an unlikely combination of professional videogame translator and amateur trail runner. 

When he’s not penning some space marine or foul-mouthed orc, you’ll find him on West Tokyo routes, either alone or with his friends at Tama Trailrunners.

Alain