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How To Get Active and Stay Fit On Holiday In Japan

Mieke Aarsman

by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Mieke Aarsman

Last updated : Jul 03, 20244 min read


Visiting Japan soon? No need to leave your training condition at the mercy of the fast-food-ramen joints, ubiquitous escalators and enticing cakes and sweets. Even on holiday (or business trip) you can work out and stay fit. Living in Japan, I was always annoyed by the ‘members-only’ policy many Japanese gyms seem to have: no occasional work-out allowed! But, there are many other alternatives for the active traveler. Read on below on where to go with your excess energy! 

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photo courtesy of spjob.jp


If you’d like to combine your workout with some nature, you might consider hiking. Hiking is very popular in Japan, and for sure a reason that many tourists come to the country in the first place. Which hiker or mountain climber hasn’t dreamt of conquering Japan’s highest point, Mt Fuji? At 3776 metres, this will surely make you break a sweat. There are also countless options for the less practiced legs. From flat walks along rivers and amongst bamboo grooves in Japan's greenest corners, to the gentle slopes of hills and small mountains spread out over the country.

When you come from Tokyo, Mt Takao is a good mountain to start with. There are lifts running, so if you are more tired than expected when you get to the summit, a comfortable return is waiting for you. 
Same applies for Inasayama in Nagasaki. It is quite doable for untrained feet (especially in spring or fall), and not only is there an alternative rope way course, you can also reward your feet for their hard work at the Fuku no Yu onsen (with an unrivalled view of Nagasaki city below). 

Looking for something more high pace? You can always go outside and jog for a bit. But the streets of Tokyo are quite busy with traffic, slow moving grannies and cyclists on the pavement. You can either put up with those, or try the running course around the Imperial Palace. A workout, nature, and sightseeing (the Imperial Palace is over a century old!) in one! That’s what I call effective! There are numerous shower facilities around, so you can return home completely refreshed. 

Believe it or not, some people like to swim. And if you do it fast enough, it is even said to become an adequate workout. Most pools are part or gyms and therefore only allow visitors to the gym, which requires a monthly membership. If you’re only in Japan for a short period, an occasional-access pool is a better option. 

Why not rent a bike in the city and have a work-out and some sightseeing rolled into one? Also, it can be a fast(er) way to travel from A to B, and you won’t be depending on the train network, which in Tokyo shuts down around 24:00/24:30 (be careful with your drinking and driving though, it also counts for bicycles!).

Okey, I’ll admit that I do believe golf is not the most sporty of sports (especially not if hiring a golf cart). On the other hand, it does require walking lengthy amounts, often (but not always) accompanied by lengthy conversation. It does provide a good excuse to walk around in the sun all day and strut your new vest and shiny white shoes.


For some, sweating at a gym is just the best workout. Running on a treadmill, some rowing or weightlifting can really push you to your limits. You can track what you do and goals are set clear and match your own objectives. The best way to do this? Hotel gyms!

Climbing and bouldering are wildly popular in Japan. It has to be, considering the country is 80% covered by mountains. In any case, you will have enough natural climbing spots to choose from. But, for beginners, city-dwellers or rainy days, the climbing gym is just right. Even for those of you who have never tried, in many gyms there are lessons you can join (be aware that some will be in Japanese though). For first-timers, sore muscles are guaranteed the next day.

True, you can choose to dance in a sweaty nightclub, shoulder-to-shoulder with twenty-somethings with such thick makeup on their own parents probably wouldn’t recognize them. Don’t get me wrong, this can also be good fun. But, for the typical traveler looking for a dance workout, one of the many dancing classes taught in Tokyo might be a better idea. 


Looking to do all of these things? Talk with a Japan local guide about some blood pumping activities within your chosen area and stay fit while you see the land of the rising sun. 

Written by Mieke Aarsman

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