Sport and fitness - Tokyo - Travel | Monocle

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Koganeyu, Taihei

At a time when sento (public bathhouse) numbers are rapidly falling, Koganeyu affirms the value of these community hubs. Founded in 1932, this long-standing sento received a radical makeover in 2020, led by artist Hiroko Takahashi and Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects. The striking transformation employed raw concrete, blonde wood and fresh tiling, while retaining core elements of the classic bathhouse: changing rooms, noren fabric curtains dividing the rooms, rows of low showers and, of course, large segregated baths. There’s also a mural of Mount Fuji by young artist Yoriko Hoshi on show and the premises now include a cypress-wood sauna and a bar, adding new layers to the experience.
koganeyu.com

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Run: Imperial Palace loop

Distance: 5km
Gradient: Long incline
Difficulty: Medium
Highlight: Running along the moat and past the Sakuradamon Gate
Best time: Mornings
Nearest MTR: Takebashi, Sakuradamon, Yurakucho, Nijubashimae

This loop, with its uphill stretch and scenic vistas, is a magnet for runners. There’s plenty to like about it other than the greenery and scenery, including vending machines and public toilets. Signs along the footpath urge runners to go anti-clockwise, stay on the left unless passing, watch for pedestrians and refrain from littering. 

Start at the exit for Takebashi station, running with the palace moat to your left. The path takes you uphill, past the National Museum of Modern Art and Inuimon Gate (an entrance to the palace’s East Gardens, off-limits to runners). After veering left you head downhill, curving along the landscaped Sakurada moat, before a zigzag through Sakuradamon Gate, which was rebuilt following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 to its original 17th-century design. Along the last stretch you will see sculpted trees and downtown office towers. Long-distance runners usually do two or more laps.

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Cut Salon Ban, Tomigaya

In Tokyo, barber’s are more than just places where people go to get a haircut. Take Cut Salon Ban, a five-seat offering run by a team of four in Tomigaya. People know this institution for its curtain sign and smiley staff who greet passers-by. “A lot of customers come through word of mouth,” says owner Tsutomu Nagai. Many of those customers live locally but the salon’s reach extends beyond Tokyo too. Some patrons hail from the beach towns of Zushi and Hayama, while others take time out for a snip during work trips from the US and Europe. 

Nagai worked here for nine years before taking over the business in the early 2000s. Today he impresses customers, from retirees to children, with his sharp scissor skills and hot-towel treatments. That high level of hospitality has helped to transform Cut Salon Ban into a hub for the community. Nagai and his team often set up a blackboard in front of the shop with a handwritten schedule of events taking place in nearby Yoyogi Park; they also print it out and distribute it as a DIY newspaper. “There is no merit for us but we do these things,” says Nagai. “We want to be of service to the people.”

1-14-16-101 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku
+81 (0)3 3468 7808
cutsalon-ban.com

Images: Kohei Take, Shutterstock

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