Japan Travel Talk No. 5 – Special Tokyo Paralympic Edition: Shin-toyosu Brillia Running Stadium - A Place for Every Body


While the travel ban to visit Japan for tourism is still in effect as of the posting date of this blog, we wanted to post a special Paralympics-related article and hope that you will visit these sites in the future.

All photos in this article were taken by Lynn Miyauchi

Click on map to enlarge
As host for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the eyes of the world have turned to Tokyo.  So, it’s fitting that the next destination of our travel blog is inspired by Olympians and Paralympians, past, present, and future.

After watching an interview with three-time Olympian hurdler Dai Tamesue, Consulate staff member and former high-school hurdler Lynn Miyauchi was inspired to go off the beaten path on a pre-pandemic trip to Japan in search of an innovative running track in Tokyo.The eastside of Tokyo is well worth exploring.  (Many of the sites mentioned in this article are in that area, on artificial islands in Tokyo Bay.)  Just a short walk from the Shin-toyosu station lies a huge silver caterpillar-like tube emblazoned with simply one word: Brillia.  Though probably not the first destination noted on most Tokyo “top attractions” lists, it is well worth a visit for anyone who has ever participated in Track and Field events or has an interest in running.  The connection between this odd structure and the Olympics begins with Brillia’s director, Dai Tamesue, who was the first Japanese to medal in a track event at a world competition and still holds the Japanese world record for the men’s 400-meter hurdles. Though retired from competition, Tamesue’s life is still influenced by athletics and has evolved into a desire to create positive social impact and opportunities through sports.

The “silver caterpillar” –  view of the Brillia Running Stadium from the outside

Sign on the path leading to the stadium
Beyond its unique appearance, the technologically innovative and award-winning Shin-toyosu Brillia Running Stadium seamlessly unites design, function, and purpose. This predominately wooden structure features a strikingly beautiful arched geometric canopy of natural timber that contrasts the six bright blue rubberized lanes stretching 60 meters from start to finish. The track itself is made from cutting-edge, upcycled materials comparable to those found in international competition running stadiums.  The building’s unique design as a covered yet open-air facility allows users to experience training in all seasons and weather conditions while technically being indoors.
Inside view of the track and stadium
Main entrance of Brillia Running Stadium
The Brillia Running Stadium was built with the idea that a running track should be accessible for “every body” to use and enjoy, whether they are training at the professional or recreational level.  The track is open to shoes, blades, and wheelchairs, providing locker rooms and showers to accommodate the needs of all who train there. Unlike other elite training facilities, this stadium is open to the public.  On any given day, visitors might see elite athletes warming up, local school clubs practicing, or even catch a glimpse of a Social Circus group training (or on special occasions, performing).  There is a small user fee that covers access to the track, locker rooms, and showers based on site availability. Tickets can be purchased at a vending machine at the entrance of the building but admittance to view the facility is free, as long as it is not booked for a private event or training session.
Specially designed accessible restroom and showering facilities
Perhaps most remarkable about the Shin-toyosu Brillia Running Stadium is the in-house prosthetics lab operated by Xiborg Co., Ltd.  Ken Endo, CEO and Prosthetics Engineer for Xiborg, has not only worked with Japanese Paralympians like Keita Sato, who won a bronze medal in 2016 at Rio in the 4 x 100-meter relay, but is also helping other Paralympians in their quest for gold at this year’s Paralympics in Tokyo. Keep your eyes on sprinters Jarryd Wallace from the USA and Kimberly Alkemade from the Netherlands, as both chase their dreams with help from Japan and Xiborg.
Ken Endo in front of some of his running blades
Ken Endo posing with Jarryd Wallace jersey
By having Xiborg located in the stadium, Endo can help make quick adjustments to equipment on-site at his workshop as well as provide an even more impactful service through his running blade “library.”  The technology and materials used to create these high-performance prosthetics comes with an equally high price tag.  Endo is working on developing more affordable running blades in hopes of realizing Xiborg’s vision to enable the “Delight of Locomotion for All People.” In the meantime, Xiborg has created a specialized prosthesis lending library that allows visitors the opportunity to try different running blades.  For those who use more conventional leg prosthetics, it can be a very powerful experience to have the ability to “run” again and for some, it could even be a life-changing moment to experience the sensation of “running” for the very first time.
Aspiring athletes and spectators are drawn to their screens in hopes of watching sports history in the making. But, beyond the records that will be broken and set is a bigger impact that sports can have in our communities. When the right pieces of the puzzle come together, it has the power to create a new picture of hope, inclusion, and dreams for the future.
Xiborg workshop inside Brillia Running Stadium
If you plan on visiting the Shin-toyosu Brillia Running Stadium, also consider exploring its neighboring areas, which are all accessible on the Yurikamome Line. Riding the Yurikamome Line is almost like an amusement park ride itself. As Tokyo’s first fully automated train, it is elevated high above the street traffic and offers great views of Tokyo Bay and a variety of Tokyo architectural landmarks like the Tokyo Big Site (Japan’s largest international convention center), the Rainbow Bridge, and the futuristic headquarters of Fuji Television, to name just a few. Riding the entire line from Shinbashi in Central Tokyo out to the end of the line at Toyosu takes a little over 30 minutes. If you have time, you may wish to explore Toyosu for its famous Fish Market or the mega shopping center and the KidZania amusement park located at Urban Dock LaLa Port. Or if a scenic stroll is more your style, be sure to hop off the Yurikamome Line at Odaiba to enjoy the picturesque views that Odaiba Marine Park has to offer.
View from the train of the Tokyo Big Site

Trip Resources
Shin-toyosu Brillia Running Stadium http://running-stadium.tokyo/en
Toyosu Fish Market https://www.japan.travel/en/spot/2034
Things to do near Odaiba https://www.japan.travel/en/travel-directory/odaiba/
Tokyo Big Site (Convention Center) https://www.japan.travel/en/travel-directory/odaiba/
Yurikamome Line  https://www.yurikamome.co.jp/en/

Related Topics
Niponica no.27 – Together for the Paralympics https://web-japan.org/niponica/niponica27/en/feature/feature03.html
Japan Shares Solution: Parasports for All https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyzFQQPEClA
Xiborg http://sub.xiborg.jp/en/

Japan Travel Trivia
Both Toyosu and Odaiba are artificial islands, but they are not the largest that Japan has built. According to the World Atlas (www.worldatlas.com), Japan has four artificial islands included in the list for the world’s top ten largest artificial islands.  Can you identify all four?
Bonus Question: Where is the largest artificial island in the USA located?  You may be surprised to discover that you might actually live close to it, if you live in the Pacific Northwest!
Enjoy cheering on your favorite teams or athletes and let us know which Paralympic events you are looking forward to watching the most!
Remember to send us your questions and suggestions for topics that you would like us to cover. You can email our info address (info@se.mofa.go.jp) with the subject line “Japan Travel Talk” or post comments on our Facebook page.
See you soon!

Japan Travel Talk Team