Most people visit Japan for the cuteness, Godzilla, crazy robot shows, ramen, sushi, and all that other super Japanese stuff. But if you care about your fitness and working out in a gym, you might wonder:
Where the hell are all the gyms in Japan?
I spend quite a bit of time on a visitor visa in Tokyo. Lifting weights is an important part of my routine, but it took me a lot of sleuthing to figure out where all the good,affordablegyms in Japan are. Here’s what I know about finding and accessing a gym (with weights!).
The Barriers to Accessing a Gym in Japan
Fitness and gyms aren’t what you normally associate with Japan. So one day, when I walked aroundShibuya, one of the famous wards in Tokyo, I came across an Under Armour billboard that featured a Japanese woman holding a barbell (!!!!). This came as a surprise to me because while Japan may be lightyears ahead in cool techlike trains that bring you sushiand toilets that squirt at your bum, opinions about gym culture and weightlifting are still stuck in the 60s.
There are a couple of barriers to finding and accessing a gym in Japan.
Gyms in Japan Are $$$
When I first arrived in Tokyo,I wasn’t sure where to start looking. Eventually though, I realized that there were actuallyplenty of gyms around Tokyo and other parts of Japan. The big chain gyms include Central Sports, Konami Sports Club, Tipness, NAS, Anytime Fitness, and Gold’s Gym.
The problem is, not every gym has a weight room. If your main loveis weight training, Gold’s Gym in Japan is a great option.Gold’s biggest benefit is that you can easily find many other locationsthroughout Japan.
But…gym memberships in general are really. Freakin’. Expensive. Like “three dollar signs” expensive.
This perspective is obviously based on my anchor point, the price point that I’m used to. In America, I paid $30 to $40 on average per month to use the gym. In Harajuku’s Gold’s Gym, I almost shit a brick when I saw the prices.Here’s the English pamphlet they had:
Let me break it down for you:
- One-time sign-up fee: ~50USD
- Monthly fee: Between 172USD and 86USD
- Single day pass: ~30USD
Clearly, gains do not come cheap.
Also, gyms in Japancharge membershipsbased onwhenyou’d like to use the facilities. Want to be able to use it at any time? Sorry, you have to pay extra for that. They have separate prices for daytime-only usage and full-day access, presumably because nighttime is prime time and really hits the salarymen’s demographic. That means a general membership doesn’t necessarily give you anytime access, unless you pay for that feature. It’s bonkers to me as an American, but whatever.
Typically, daytime-only ischeaper, so if you can go during the day this would be the better deal. The real problem comes next.
Getting Gym Memberships As a Foreign Visitor Is Tricky
In my experience, if you want to sign up for an actual gym membership, you need:
- Apermanent resident card or visa.
- A Japanese bank account or credit card which you use to pay your membership.
Without either of those, I was denied gym membership at just about every place, including Gold’s Gym. That means you’re left with paying outrageously expensive month-to-month or day visitorpasses.
OR try negotiating.
If you’re fluent enough with the language or can find English speakers, request to speak directly to the franchise manager. Explain that you’re only in the country for however long and are willing to pay for a membership that’s <insert the amount of time you’re there> in one lump sum. First, try telling themthat you’ll pay in cash.
If they balk, another method is tofind a closeJapanese friendwho trusts you enough and is willing to use his or her bank account to open the gym membership account. You’ll alsoneed your passport, natch.
One gym I spoke to was willing to deal with the latter method of transferring funds through my friend’s bank account, but I never went through with the deal because I found a better alternative (see below).That strategy won’t work with all employees and gyms, but it’d help your case to be very courteous and understanding.
The other option is to have a pre-existing membership with Gold’s Gym or Anytime Fitness so that you either pay a small fee to use the chains in Japan or can access them with little issue.I had a friend who was already with Anytime Fitness prior to visiting Japan and was able towaltz into the Anytime Fitness gyms with no issues.
Your Best Bet Is a Public Gym
Thankfully, there are city-run gyms in many parts of Japan. These are available to the public and residents of thatarea. They’re cheap, too.Not all public gyms have a weight room, but a select few have the sorts of things you need without paying out the wazoo. I’ve personally been to:
- Cost:400 yen per day
- Location:Daikanyama, near the big Tsutaya area
- What you get:Dumbbells, weight machines, foam rollers, cardio machines. There’s no squat rack or barbell, so if youreallywant a heavy lifting session this place isn’t it.
- Cost:600 yen per day. You can pay monthly as well. If I remember correctly, it was about 60USD for monthly membership; no visa required.
- Location:Sendagaya, take the JR Chuo line and it’s right by the JR station exit
- What you get:There are two weight rooms. One is the free weights area that has squat racks, bench press, and a couple of other things. It’ll definitely suit your needs. There’s another area with weight machines, a stretching area, and a cardio machine. Thisplace also sells protein powderand other fitness goods and snacks.
After I found Sendagaya’s gym, I pretty much never went to any other one, but thisresource from GaijinPotlists other public gyms. I can’t guarantee those have adequate weight rooms though.Alternatively, CrossFit gyms are cropping up in many places around Tokyo. If CrossFit is more your style, youcan consult thisto find CrossFit boxes in Tokyo.
In Kyoto, you can visit:
- Cost:350 yen
- Location:You can take the JR line to Enmachi station and it’s about a 10 minute walk from there.
- What you get:It’s got a training room with squat racks, benches, and various machines. It’s good for basic needs, but not if you’re into fancy stuff.
What You Need to Bring
When you pay for using a gym in Japan, you are paying to use the facilities. That’s it. No towels. No nothing. Whatever you need, you’ll need to bring those things with you, including:
- An extra pair of ‘indoor’ shoes:The Japanese have an interesting, bordering-on-obsessive emphasis on cleanliness. So much that they require you to bring a separate pair of shoes exclusively for indoor gym use. I got away withnotever doing this at Sendagaya, but my shoes didn’t look hobo-ish so they gave me a pass, or no one noticed (shhhhhh!)
- Cash:Generally, at these places you typically use cash to pay for an entry ticket ata machine. The options are all written in Japanese, but if you look lost and confused the kind souls at the gym should be able to help you out.
- Your own towels:This includes your own gym and bath towels, if you plan on using the showers after. You also need to bring your own soap and such.
Gym Etiquette in Japan
In Japan, the gym culture is…dainty.
Daintiness isthe mostappropriate way to describe how we all need to act in the weight room: with delicacy, respect, excessive courtesy, and like a child that’s always on the verge of being scolded. I respect the rules, but they discouragecertain exercises like heavy-ass deadlifts. The otherJapanese gym-goers look down upon people banging and dropping weights and generally making a lot of noise. Can you imagine dainty deadlifts? Me neither. Sigh.
The list of do nots might actually be longer than the do’s…
- Don’t hog the equipment:That means supersets are harder.People generally don’t understand the concept of “working in,” where you take turns working in your exercise set. In Sendagaya, you have to reserve your spot for a certain machine, at which point youhave a strict time limit if other people are waiting. As a good alternative,you canuse bodyweight exercises or something with dumbbells as your second or third exercise in trisets or supersets.
- Don’t leave weights around:People are really anal retentive about keeping things organized, or “by the book.” One guy got mad at me because I started racking weights back into “his” machine. Basically, put things back exactly where you got them. I appreciatethis rule, though, because many of the gyms in America often look like the Tazmanian Devil tore up theplace just to make finding matching dumbbells near impossible.
- Don’t make loud sounds:Grunting loudly is typically discouraged, but I guess that’s anywhere. You can still deadlift sort of, but if you do heavy ones, just know that you will be very harshly judged.
- Don’t use your phone:They’re much more strict about phone usage while you’re using the machines or weight room. Don’t chat, text, use your phone to record or take a selfie, or even look in the general direction of your phone. (I kid about the last one, but seriously, just leave your phone in your bag.)
- Don’t leave your gross sweat behind:Another rule that I appreciate. Everyone respectfully wipes down their equipment here. At least make a showing of wiping down your equipment when you’re done, even if it looks “clean.”
Other than the deadlifts and the indoor shoe thing, I’m a fan of a gym culture that’s focused more on keeping things tidy and less gross for others.
Should You Hire a Personal Trainer in Japan?
It’s just that fitness, especially strength training, isn’t quite up to speed in much of Japan. Of course, that’s not sayingallthe personal trainers here are useless, spikey-haired flops, nor that nobody knows what they are doing. I personally wouldn’t pay a trainer in Japanfor strength training, especially if they’re not going to let you deadlift very heavy.
Other Non-Gym Options
And hey, if the gym ain’t your thang, there are plenty ofactivities to satisfy your fitness craving.For one thing, you already walk everywhere in Japan. That helpsa lot. In my time, I did…
I made do withbodyweight workouts at playgroundsand parks when I couldn’t find access to a gym. It helped me buck the trend a bit and find creativity in the most boring everyday objects. A bench and pull-up bar are really all I need. Oh, it also helps to have aset of suspension trainers.(I linked to the official TRX ones, which are great, but I personally have one from a company that’s not in business anymore. It’s stayed with me formany,manyyears though.)
ALSO READ:No Gym, No Weights, No Problem: How to Stay Fit While You Travel
Indoor Rock Climbing
Rock climbing is pretty popular, so you’ll easily find rock climbing gyms. I went to rock climbing gyms in Shibuya and Higashi-jujo (this one was really small). For more options, Time Outhas a great list of themany rock climbing walls in Tokyo.
Ifyou’re mainly camped out in Tokyo, your options for hiking are more limited, and even then, you have to venture out typically for an hour and a half to get to thesehiking spots. Aside from Mount Fuji,Mount TakaoandMount Mitakeare great options for hiking. If you go, try to go during autumn or cherry blossom season.
Ultimate frisbee has been a fun way for me to get active and meet people.Jointhis Facebook groupto see their announcements and where they play.They often play at Hiro-o Junior High School near the Ebisu JR station. In my experience, they’re a friendly crew and welcome all skill levels. (Most are highly experienced players.)
Generally, you can expect to pay between 7000 and 10,000 yen per month. Membership plans could include daytime-only plans, family plans, classes only, etc. There is usually a different price for daytime versus evening memberships, with the latter being more expensive due to popularity.How do gym memberships work in Japan? ›
Generally, you can expect to pay between 7000 and 10,000 yen per month. Membership plans could include daytime-only plans, family plans, classes only, etc. There is usually a different price for daytime versus evening memberships, with the latter being more expensive due to popularity.How much does a gym membership cost in Japan? ›
Most private gyms are in the price range of ¥7000 to ¥10000 a month, although the fee varies by plan and location. Some will think that Japanese gyms are more expensive than gyms in their home countries.Does Japan have good gyms? ›
When visiting a new city, it can be challenging to find a place to work out. Don't worry though, the fitness culture in Japan is great! There are lots of gyms and fitness centres in Tokyo where you can take part in pilates, general exercise, training, weight lifting and most sports.How much is Anytime Fitness per month in Japan? ›
If you are a member of Anytime Fitness in another country, your membership will also be valid at any location in Japan. The monthly membership fee varies from location to location, but it is usually around 7500 yen a month. People with tattoos will need to completely cover up their ink.
In Japan, there is a physical education period called taiku where children partake in various athletic activities.How much does curves gym cost in Japan? ›
Making use of all 24 stations in just 30 minutes works just about every muscle in your body. You can go as often as you like for a flat fee of 5,900 yen a month, though three times a week is recommended.How much is a Japanese American Citizens League membership? ›
|Regular/Individual||Regular sustaining member||$65|
|Couple/Family||Spouses, partners, children, and/or family members usually residing in the same household||$110|
Gold's Gym Japan 2023
If you are a member of Gold's Gym in your own country, you need to ask your local gym in advance if your membership allows you to use the Gold's Gyms in other countries free of charge. It depends on your local Gold's Gym membership, but most of the time it is NOT free outside of your home country.
The United States has the most gym members, the most amount of gyms, and creates the most revenue when compared to all other countries in the world. The US has 64.19 million gym members – the next closest is Germany, at 11.66 members. The US is home to 41,190 gyms – next is Brazil, with 29,525 gyms.
Radio Taiso is an exercise routine that has been practised for nearly 100 years in Japan. Old and young, physically fit and those with mobility issues can all experience the benefits of Radio Taiso.Which country is no 1 in fitness? ›
Norway's impressive average life expectancy is a result of the active Norwegian lifestyle, a diet that's full of Omega−3 fatty acids, and a robust healthcare system that's funded by the public.Is weight lifting popular in Japan? ›
Weightlifting is Japanese salarymen's newest hobby, report says - Japan Today.Does my Anytime Fitness membership work in Japan? ›
Anytime Fitness is a global fitness gym chain, and there are more than 600 gyms throughout Japan. If you are a member of Anytime Fitness in your home country, you can use any Anytime Fitness gym in Japan for free.Can I use my fitness first membership internationally? ›
You must present your validated original International Passport, along with your membership card at each visit to an international club. If no Passport is presented, then full guest fee applies. Your original membership agreement (“OMA”) will still be applicable.Can I use my Anytime Fitness membership anywhere in the world? ›
Do I really have international access to all gyms? Yes, globetrotter! When you are a part of the Anytime Fitness family, you can work out at gyms nationwide AND around the globe thanks to our worldwide club access. Think of it as a global membership plan.What are the 4 classes in Japanese? ›
The Neo-Confucian theory that dominated Japan during the Tokugawa Period recognized only four social classes—samurai warriors, artisans, farmers and merchants—and mobility between the four classes was officially prohibited.Can you go to gym in Japan with tattoos? ›
Rules are very important in Japan, and as there is a no tattoo rule in nearly all pools, onsens and gyms, a foreigner walking up to the desk with tattoos showing is bound to cause concern. Just cover up and keep those tattoos covered and that is acceptable. If you can't cover up, don't go to those environments.Is it cheaper to buy sneakers in Japan? ›
You can usually find sneakers at bargain prices at large chains like ABC Mart. Japanese stores not only offer footwear at lower prices, but you can also find limited edition sneakers from brands like Adidas or Nike that you can't find anywhere else in the world.
The brand no longer is the juggernaut it once was. At one time, Curves was listed in Guinness World Records as "The World's Largest Fitness Center Franchise." During the past 15 years, many Curves locations closed. In February 2018, Japanese company Koshidaka Holdings Co Ltd., purchased Curves International.
Researchers found that the total 30-minute Curves work- out burns an average of 184 calories, while the 25-minute circuit alone burns 163 calories. “Intensity-wise it's similar to walking four miles an hour [for 30 minutes] on a flat tread- mill,” says Greany. “So it's a moderate-intensity workout.”Who can join the JACL? ›
Anyone of any ethnic group is welcomed. You do not need to be Japanese American to be a member. Your membership to JACL matters! More members means more power to advance social justice in our communities, educate others about Japanese American and Asian American history, and preserve history and culture.What does the Japanese American Citizens League do? ›
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), founded in 1929, is the nation's oldest and largest Asian American non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to upholding the civil rights of Americans of Japanese ancestry and others.Was the Japanese American Citizens League successful? ›
JACL won another landmark victory in the 1980s when it successfully lobbied the federal government to redress the crime of wartime internment, culminating in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized to Japanese Americans and authorized limited financial reparations.Does your Costco membership work in Japan? ›
Your membership card is valid at any Costco warehouse worldwide and is not transferable.Are tattoos okay in Japan? ›
Actually, tattoos are fine in Japan. They're not illegal in any way. You may even see some people walking around with fashion tattoos, especially in Tokyo. Although some people in Japan have tattoos, they are usually hidden underneath clothing.Can you listen to music at the gym in Japan? ›
Yes! But be aware that talking on the phone or playing music without headphones is not allowed. Additionally, no photographs or videos are allowed in most Japanese gyms.What is the fittest city in America? ›
That is none other than Virginia's Arlington, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.What is the most abundant gym in the US? ›
Most used gyms in the U.S. as of April 2022
As of April 2022, Planet Fitness was the most popular fitness center among gym members in the United States. Overall, 26.6 percent of surveyed gym members claimed to exercise at Planet Fitness the most often.
Colorado, Utah and Vermont are the most physically active states. More than 80% of people in those three states exercise. Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas are the least physically active states, with less than 70% of people in those states exercising regularly.
Baseball is historically the most popular sport in Japan. It was introduced to Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, who taught at the Kaisei School in Tokyo. The first baseball team was called the Shimbashi Athletic Club and was established in 1878. Baseball has been a popular sport ever since.Which American sport has become very popular in Japan? ›
Baseball is nowadays the country's most popular participatory and spectator sport. It was first introduced to Japan in 1872 and it was developing since that year.Why Japanese people are so fit? ›
As their diet is traditionally high in soy and fish this may also play a significant role in reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The Japanese also have the lowest rates of obesity among men and women as well as long life expectancy.Which country has the fittest men? ›
A new global Ipsos study reveals that people from the Netherlands are the most physically active of 29 nations. On average they report spending 12.8 hours a week (almost two hours per day) doing physical exercise or team sports, double the average of 6.1 across 29 markets.What is the fittest city in the world? ›
Arlington, Va., Named 'Fittest City' in 2022 American Fitness Index® Ranking.Is Japan a fit country? ›
Boasting the longest average life expectancy in the world (83.7 years) and the lowest rate of obesity (3.7%) among OECD countries, Japan is widely regarded as a healthy country.How does Japan keep obesity low? ›
Japan's success in avoiding the obesity problem faced by most of the western world is down to three main factors: an appreciation of good food from cradle to grave, a lifestyle that encourages incidental exercise, and a large dollop of paternalism.Do Japanese exercise daily? ›
The daily Japanese routine that will make you more flexible
According to the BBC, an exercise called rajio taiso, or “radio calisthenics,” which became popular in the 1920s, is today performed multiple times a day by millions of Japanese in parks, schools, and even offices.
Generally, you can expect to pay between 7000 and 10,000 yen per month. Membership plans could include daytime-only plans, family plans, classes only, etc. There is usually a different price for daytime versus evening memberships, with the latter being more expensive due to popularity.How many gyms are there in Japan? ›
As of January 2022, there were approximately 8.5 thousand fitness clubs in Japan.
There are gym locations in all 50 US states, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, Grand Cayman, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Qatar, South Korea, India, Italy, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines.Is fitness International the same as LA Fitness? ›
Fitness International, Irvine, California, has opened Club Studio, a new fitness concept for the company that also owns LA Fitness, Esporta Fitness and City Sports Club, the company announced on Jan. 26.Is gym pass international? ›
Based in New York, Gympass is active in 13 countries across the world and engages over 30,000 fitness facilities within nearly 5,000 cities.How much does gym membership cost? ›
On average, gym memberships in 2023 are expected to cost between $20 and $60 per month, depending on the factors above. However, it's essential to remember that prices vary significantly from Gym to Gym, so it is best to research to find the best gym membership for your budget.Can I enter Anytime Fitness without my key fob? ›
In our membership agreement, there are fines to ensure tailgating does not occur. If you have left your fob key at home, it would be best to approach a club staff member during staffed hours so that they can manually check you in. Make sure you show them a photo ID as a form of verification.Can you deadlift at World Gym? ›
Does World Gym Have Deadlift Platforms? Most World Gym locations have deadlift platforms, but you can also deadlift on the gym floor if you need to.How much is the World Gym late fee? ›
Amounts not paid in full within 10 days after their due date shall be subject to a late payment charge of 5% of the unpaid amount of the late installment or $25.00, whichever is greater.Can I use my Anytime Fitness membership in Japan? ›
Anytime Fitness is a global fitness gym chain, and there are more than 600 gyms throughout Japan. If you are a member of Anytime Fitness in your home country, you can use any Anytime Fitness gym in Japan for free.Can you only join one club in Japan? ›
Club activities take place after school every day. Teachers are assigned as sponsors, but often the students themselves determine the club's daily activities. Students can join only one club, and they rarely change clubs from year to year.
A host club (ホストクラブ, hosuto kurabu) is similar to a hostess club, except that female customers pay for male company. Host clubs are typically found in more populated areas of Japan, and are famed for being numerous in Tokyo districts such as Kabukichō, and Osaka's Umeda and Namba.
ONLY ONE (1) WORKOUT SESSION RESERVATION, PER MEMBER, PER DAY is permitted! If you cannot make your session time, please cancel your session as soon as possible so other members can book for that time slot.Can I use my fitness first membership in another country? ›
You must present your validated original International Passport, along with your membership card at each visit to an international club. If no Passport is presented, then full guest fee applies. Your original membership agreement (“OMA”) will still be applicable.Can you listen to music in Japanese gyms? ›
Yes! But be aware that talking on the phone or playing music without headphones is not allowed. Additionally, no photographs or videos are allowed in most Japanese gyms.Can I use my Anytime Fitness membership in another country? ›
Yes! When you are a part of the Anytime Fitness family, you can work out at gyms nationwide AND around the globe thanks to our worldwide club access.Is clubbing a thing in Japan? ›
Shinjuku is the place to go for hopping between hole-in-the-wall izakaya, while Roppongi is home to some of the best-known nightclubs. Head to Ginza for an upscale evening of fine dining and exclusive bars, or join a younger crowd in Shibuya to dance the night away.How long is summer break in Japan? ›
Japanese schools have three semesters, separated by vacations. At most schools, summer vacation covers the 40-odd days from July 20 to August 31; winter and spring vacation both last around 10 days, from December 26 to around January 6 and March 25 to around April 5, respectively.What is the difference between a club and a circle in Japan? ›
In most cases, circles don't receive any aid from universities and cover a wider variety of activities than clubs. While some circles take their activities seriously, others tend to place more emphasis on having fun. Accordingly, age-based hierarchical relationships in circles usually are less strict than in clubs.What are girl bars in Japan? ›
What is a Girls Bar? Put simply, a girls bar is an establishment where female bartenders make drinks and serve customers. The customers sit at the bar and can talk to the girls as they make drinks. The main principle is not to pour drinks next to the customers.Can foreigners go to host clubs in Japan? ›
It's not so outlandish an idea as you may think. While it is currently illegal for foreigners to work at a hostess club in Japan unless they are Japanese citizens or have a spousal visa, many women still find employment in this profession that is seen, by some, as a modern incarnation of geisha.What is a boy bar in Japan? ›
What is a “boys bar”? A boys bar is simply the male version of girls bar, at where male staff cater to customers seated at the counter seats who want drinks and attentive conversation. Think of it as a causal version of a host club.