Asia Pacific

Nara, Japan

See Also Our Guide for Nearby Kyoto

Flickr: Carla Abanes

Nara is capital Nara Prefecture, located in the Kansai region of Japan. The city’s eight remaining temples and shrines, Heijō Palace, and the Kasugayama Primeval Forest make Nara a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a popular day trip from Osaka and Kyoto, easily reachable by train. There’s some good running in Nara, with a mix of historical sites, pristine gardens, and the hilly forest paths east of the city.

We’ve mapped four distinct places to run in Nara, though owing to the compactness of the city, they can be combined for longer jaunts. Nara Park is the anchor point of our ‘Runseeing Tour‘, which will take you past many of the city’s historical highlights. Just west of there, the grounds of Heijō Palace and paths around small lagoons near the Mausoleum of Emperor Heizei make for a ‘historical’ run as well. The best off-road running is on the hilly paths of Kasugayama Primeval Forest and up Mt. Wakuska. For some off-road interval training, head just north of the central city to the Nara Sports Complex, which has paths, two tracks, and a small pond.

Nara weather is good for running year-round, but it can be hot and humid in summer. Cherry blossoms abound in the mountains in spring, while the autumn colors are gorgeous. For more, see our running guides for Kyoto and Osaka.

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