What to wear when you run in Tokyo!

Tomorrow we fly back to California. It’s been amazing, we have had such a great time and I’m so grateful to have been able to spend this time in this fantastic city. But I’m excited about going home, seeing the cat and getting Christmas started.

So to finish my Japanese adventure, here’s a post I’ve been working on since we arrived. The Fashion Feature! I am SO excited about this post. I have spent the past few weeks sneakily photographing real runners and clothes in running shops here in Tokyo. Because one of the things that’s struck us both here is how different the running clothes are than in the UK and US. Some people wear things that wouldn’t be out of place in those countries, but some clothes here are fabulous and Tokyo-ites put their outfits together differently. So, at your service as ever, I did some surreptitious photography to show you. Don’t expect great quality images but DO expect some quality outfits!

Let’s start with some zebra print running tights!

I’ll tell you what, as well. Running is incredibly popular here in Tokyo. I’ve been blown away by the quantity of people running, and by how incredibly fast some of them are. Tokyo runners, like runners in any city, come in all shapes, sizes and speeds but some of them are incredible!!

But if you come to Tokyo to run and you don’t want to look out of place, here’s what you need to know.

Generally, outfits are dramatic

Go faster stripes! Everywhere!
A poor photo but some corking yellow action!

Layering is key.

It’s cold here at the moment, so it’s all about layering. Both sexes seem primarily to wear running tights with looser shorts (or skirts) over the top. And they often layer long-sleeve and short-sleeve tops as well.

Good colours, good tights and good layering.
A perfect Tokyo running outfit.
Layers, patterns, colours and a bumbag!

Legwarmers are the next big thing.

And I am excited about it!

NOTHING matches here! And I love the leg-warmers especially!
We’ll talk skirts later…look at the pinkness on the legs!

Tights are dramatic

Very often, the running tights are spectacularly patterned. Particularly for the men. The Husband’s eyes were on stalks at some of the mens’ outfits. They would create quite a stir in the West.

Some corking tights on the right…
So we start with polka-dots…
..and we move on to brighter ones…
…or a chequered alternative…
…or you can have go-faster stripes…
…and we finish with these subtle little strides!

Colours are bright and polka dots are hot!

Pink is in. For both sexes. As is orange and red and bright green.


Orange polka dots…
And black and pink ones..
These are for men! The husband winced when I showed him this.
A vision in citrus

Skirts (and dresses) are surprisingly popular.

I saw many women in running tights with skirts over the top. One girl was actually running in nylon tights and a skirt. But I’ve seen a few girls in what seem to be running dresses with running tights underneath. I kind of like it.

A little black number to run in!
If it’s really cold, wear a quilted skirt.
If you’re craving pink, here’s that dress again…
My personal favourite…for running stars!

Waterproofs can actually be really nice!

Christmas list. I LOVE this!

Sometimes, pockets can be upside-down

I am honestly bewildered. These bum-pockets open at the bottom.
Surely everything would fall out??

Honolulu is all in.

They are marketing the flip out of the Honolulu marathon. It is EVERYWHERE. In every running shop, on runners’ t-shirts round the Imperial Palace. I guess it’s the closest US marathon to Japan and there’s a sizeable Japanese population in Hawaii. So if you’re planning to run it, you need to up the style stakes in order to fit in!




They don’t seem that different to the US or the UK. No bargains. Darn.

Men may run in women’s shoes

I may be wrong here but I’ve seen a number of men running in shoes that look girly. I wonder if Japanese men have smaller feet and so sometimes need to do this? Otherwise, Japanese men like BRIGHT shoes!!


Female runners are immaculate.

No getting out of bed, scraping back a ponytail and feeling done up in mascara. Quite often, women are running in full make up, with straightened hair. They look good, it has to be said. I have started putting on the slap before running. I am a sheep.

Bum-Bags/Fanny Packs?

Totally acceptable. Common as muck. Made me wish I’d brought mine.

Layers and a bum bag. Tick and tick!

Dodgy tracksuits are also in.

Amongst the fashion running butterflies there are some truly horrific 80s style tracksuits  that are being worn. I hope this trend misses California.


I’m kind of intrigued by the whole mask thing, they are incredibly common. But this lady is RUNNING in her mask, in a dodgy tracksuit. Double-whammy of fabulousness.

Cannot tell you how much I love this photograph.

I absolutely do not mean to mock! I love noting these cultural differences.We have loved eyeing up the outfits, seeing what goes and what doesn’t!

I checked out a couple of running magazines … they were slightly bewildering and didn’t look that exciting to be honest. They were also very expensive – 7,000 yen which is about 7 British pounds and $10! Didn’t buy one.

Running Style magazine seemed the most popular!
A most exciting inside spread!

And finally, if anyone ever uses these blog posts for information gathering purposes about Japan (fools!!), this is a fantastic map of running routes, shops and facilities that I found online. It was invaluable, thank you Namban runners!

And with that, I leave you! Tokyo running street style! Tokyo, thank you for having us. Let’s go home…California, here we come!

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma F says:

    Cat, you are brilliant – I read your posts every morning and you always make me smile 🙂 thank you!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Ha…thanks Em. You can call me Cat, no reason why not!! Everyone still does. For some reason I’ve gone all formal online 😉

  2. Emma F says:

    Oh I’m rubbish – I know I’m not supposed to call you Cat but I just can’t move on! 🙂

  3. Cathryn, I had no idea you were writing a blog! So glad you put in a link in fb. Loved this post on jogging Japanese style. I also noticed you are calling California home.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I’m so excited you’re following it! Yes, we live in the Bay Area…we’ve been there two years and have a little longer. It’s wonderful!!! Hope Janos’ knee is improving, I loved your snowy lake pictures.

  4. Jen says:

    This is awesome! Did you buy any Tokyo running fashion to wear State-side??

  5. Cathryn says:

    No, I didn’t and I’m a little sad about it – but we spent a lot of money on this trip and I didn’t want to be greedy. But we have today left (we fly tonight) so you never know .

  6. I think the upside down pockets are for tennis balls (??). I have one on my lululemon running skirt. Those patterned tights are the awesome. I need more of that in my life. Can’t believe you are already coming back to the States. That flew by!

    1. Cathryn says:

      OH you may be right! They weren’t in the running section of the shop so that would make sense! Now I can sleep at night.

      Yep, we’re home. NO idea of the time/day…we woke up at 2pm today! So nice to be home!

  7. Madeleine says:

    Love this post Cathryn, and in fact all your posts from Tokyo. It’s been great learning about somewhere new! Have a great Californian Christmas – sending you greetings from (nearly) Wiltshire, well just over the border in Somerset 😉

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you so much!! Have a lovely Christmas too…can’t wait to be home in Jan. If ever I get those flights booked.

  8. What an interesting post! So interesting to see how the patterns are mixed together.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I know! I think that if I tried it, I’d look silly but those Tokyo-ites pull it off!!

  9. Bean says:

    If you couldn’t tell I am catching up on all my blog reading, been little behind. I love this post. And i really love the blue and white stripped skirt. It is amazing how awesome the running clothes are. I kind of want to go there just to shop for some new running clothes. I now wished people dressed a little more exciting here.

  10. Cathryn says:

    That IS a cute skirt. I wish I’d bought a few pieces now…I would team them with black instead of another bright colour/pattern but they are so cute. I esp like that snowflake top… I wish I’d bought it!!

  11. kathy says:

    I moved to Tokyo in April and have been running almost daily and would like to add that they layer all summer long too. I felt naked with all the clothing most of them are wearing in the heat and humidity. I am told they like to cover up to keep their skin light and not get sunburned. They still use sunscreen by the gallons, so don’t quite get it myself.

    1. Cathryn says:

      That’s REALLY interesting, I wondered how much of the layering was due to the cold weather. I saw some people running in little tanks/shorts but they were speedsters. You lucky thing, moving to Tokyo! We loved our time there, we all actually miss the city. Hope you’re loving it.

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