The Best ‘Cherry Blossom Runs’


Two cities that are most famous for their cherry blossoms are Tokyo and Washington, D.C. Like skiers hitting a great powder day, it’s a treat for runners to hit cherry blossom lined paths at the peak of their bloom. Each season is different, of course, and predicting peak cherry blossom dates is like trying to get Vermont foliage at its peak.

Generally speaking, Tokyo peaks in late March, and Washington D.C. follows a week to ten days later. Our guide to some of the best routes to see the cherry blossoms in each city:

Washington, D.C. The best route is the ‘Memorial Run’, starting at the Washington Monument and heading out to the Tidal Basin. Cherry Trees line the area near the Jefferson Memorial. See our guide, Great Runs in Washington, D.C. for full explanation, map, and details. Another path lined with cherry blossoms is to extend the Tidal Basin run into Potomac Park. It’s ~2 miles one way from the Jefferson Memorial, along the trails paralleling Ohio Dr. to Haines Point.

Tokyo. Cherry trees are thought to be native to the Himalayas. They are revered and beautifully cared for in Japan. Cherry blossom festivals abound in season. Fortunately for runners, some of the most popular running routes in Tokyo incorporate lovely, cherry tree lined paths. My recommendations:

  • Imperial Palace. 3.1 mile loop around. MAP
  • Akasaka Palace. Lovely trees along parts of this 2.1 mile loop. Combine with Yoyogi Park 1 mile to the west, or Imperial Palace loop, 1/2-mile to the east. MAP
  • Koganei Park. Lovely park in Tokyo’s western suburbs, with a garden containing 2,000 cherry trees. Marked 5k loop, part of it paths lined with cherry trees. For a longer run, combine with a section of the Tamagawa Josui canal trail, just to the south. Park info and map.
  • Meguro River. Some 800 cherry trees line this 4k path along the Meguro River. Accessible from Meguro, Ebisu, Gotanda, and Osaki stations. There are plenty of shops and restaurants along the way, making the overall atmosphere here very pleasant.

The above suggestions are excerpts from Great Runs in Tokyo, which we expect to publish this week. And Great Runs is now up to 40 cities: top 30 in North America, plus London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Brussels in Europe; and soon our first couple of cities in Asia.