Working out alone isn’t for everyone. It can be hard to find the motivation for a jog or hit the gym without anyone else. Some people need that little extra accountability to get out the door.
Luckily, Japan loves the idea of group activities. There are plenty of ways to stay active and social, even as a foreigner. Joining a Japanese group is also a great way to practice the language with native speakers!
While you can always check out your local community center for local events and fitness groups, here are a few recourses you can use to meet new people while getting fit in Japan.
Outdoor and Running groups
Outdoor and running clubs are popular in Japan. The country’s lush and beautiful nature is practically all around you. And while there are exceptions, like if you live out in a really small town, most cities in Japan will have some sort of jogging or hiking groups.
Like most groups, you’ll find something for your experience level and goals, like serious running groups prepping for a marathon or a casual hiking group making treks up Mount Takao.
Most people just want to share a goal and relax after work with like-minded people, so they’re typically welcoming of anyone who applies.
- Namban: An excellent resource for more serious runners. Based in Tokyo but is made mainly of foreigners looking to participate in races across Japan.
- The Tokyosampomaster Facebook group: A hiking group based in Tokyo that organizes hikes around Japan.
- Outdoor Fitness groups in Japan | Meetup: is a good place to find outdoor activities and hiking around Japan.
- Marathon groups in Japan | Meetup: or check here if you’re more interested in running.
- Moshicom (Japanese): A great Japanese site to organize and join smaller events or clubs around Japan.
For those who like to move their legs without direct contact with the ground, cycling is a popular way to stay active.
Moreover, Japan is a nation of bike riders. While bikes are generally used as a way of commuting, there are recreational enthusiasts all over. And the more outside of the city you are, the more likely you will find beautiful cycling spots. This makes it one of the better options to find social groups even if you are outside of a big city like Tokyo or Osaka.
It can be a little more expensive to start cycling as a hobby, but building a bike for your goals is part of the enjoyment for those in the community. Joining a cycling community can give you an active hobby and a group of friends to enjoy downtime at the various bike shops around Japan.
- Tokyo Cycling Club: more of a general forum for cycling enthusiasts in Japan. It can be a good place to meet fellow cyclers, buy a bike or find races near you.
- Half Fast Cycling Tokyo: is a more casual and social gathering of cyclists based in Tokyo. They host volunteer-run cycling gatherings of all levels.
- Cycling groups in Japan | Meetup: Meetup has resources for cyclists of all levels to find a group in Japan.
Sports are already about building bonds as a team, so they tend to be a welcoming way to jump into fitness. The type of sports clubs available will depend on the city. Futsal, soccer, basketball, and volleyball are universally popular enough that there’s almost always one of those around.
Clubs for tennis, baseball and golf are also big in Japan but come with big price tags for equipment and facilities. Don’t worry about skill level, as most of these are for fun or just small local leagues. While you can find more serious teams, they will probably need you to try out before being considered.
As most sports are viewed as being the wheelhouse of western countries, being a foreigner can be a benefit, but it might also raise their skill expectations of you. A good way to find these can be by checking at the local gym or stadium.
- Tokyo Gaijins: is more of an all-Japan host for anything outdoors or sporty. They have events for anyone interested in basketball, volleyball, badminton, futsal, swimming, or hiking.
- 男女共同の娯楽スポーツ groups in 日本 | Meetup: If you’re looking for something a little more specific to your interests or location you can find it on Meetup.
- コナミスポーツクラブ (Japanese): while more general, sports clubs like Konami offer a wide variety of sports and fitness options for anyone who can speak a little more Japanese.
Japan is the motherland of many popular martial arts around the world. Martial arts focus on strengthening the mind and body through a shared experience of discipline and hard work, making them a perfect way to build bonds while building up your physique.
The broad scale of martial arts has sportier ones like Jiujitsu and Kickboxing. While the other end has more disciplined ones like karate and aikido, which tend to have stronger communities with training camps and other activities.
- Ki Society: If you are interested in the more disciplined side of Japan, the ki society of ki aikido has dojos around the world and in Japan.
- Japan Karate Association: with a Japanese headquarters and branches around the globe, you can start your martial arts life or continue it with the Japan Karate Association.
- Japan MMA Gyms: runs a list of MMA gyms by location. You can search for the one closest to you and find a direct link to their website. Depending on where you are, Japanese might be required.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? There are tons of groups on Reddit, Facebook, Meetup and even the Line app to find more niche communities in specific locations. Just do your best! Having a group or scheduled activities to keep active long-term can really help get you out the door.
Have you ever joined a fitness community in Japan? What groups do you recommend? Let us know in the comments!