Ultimate Guide to Bouldering in Tokyo

By Anirudh Sriram & Yuria Hoshmand | May 28, 2022

Are you a complete beginner to bouldering or do you have some experience but looking to start bouldering in Tokyo? Bouldering is a popular activity in Japan and there are many bouldering shops and gyms in Tokyo. Bouldering can be done alone and does not require expensive gear, it can be a great hobby to spice up your life in Tokyo.

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    What is bouldering?

    Bouldering is a physical activity which involves climbing artificial rock walls or small rock formations which are close to the ground without the use of ropes and harnesses. Doesn’t that sound like some Spiderman action? However, in bouldering, unlike Spiderman who is empowered with the famous web-shooter device, enthusiasts must scale walls by means of strange-shaped, bright colored protrusions. The thrill!

    Bouldering can be done indoors and outdoors. Outdoor bouldering is climbing a boulder instead of a stiff rock face or a cliff. The indoor variant involves scaling walls dedicated to bouldering inside gyms or dedicated indoor bouldering gyms. 

    Bouldering as a sport combines physical strength with some technical and problem-solving skills. Okay. That sounded intense. Hold on though! What do I mean by problem-solving? Just an array of multi-colored protrusions across the wall can seem vague and intimidating. However, there is more to it. Each color is indicative of a specific path or a trail that is followed while scaling the wall. So, problem-solving will be necessary to stay on the chosen trail to successfully ascend to the top. 

    Are you a beginner  to bouldering? Check out this article: Beginner’s Guide to Bouldering: What It Is & How to Get Started

    climbing a green wall bouldering in tokyo

    Do Japanese people even like climbing?

    They most certainly do! The Japanese don’t climb for fitness, their love and passion for climbing drives them! 

    When one thinks of Japan, one invariably thinks of anime, manga comics, the resplendent sakura blooms, shinkansen (bullet trains) and the steadfast commitment to punctuality. While all these are deeply engraved as part of the Japanese imagery in people’s minds, little is known about Japan’s love for climbing. Rock climbing, bouldering carved its special place in the minds of the Japanese long before bouldering was embraced in the other parts of the world. Indoor bouldering gyms located all over Japan have made this activity even more accessible to the public. To give an idea of its popularity, the number of bouldering gyms just within Tokyo outnumbers the number of bouldering gyms across entire Australia. A fascinating video further explains the fascination towards climbing in Japan by correlating the Japanese principle of kaizen (continuous improvement). Japanese culture always promotes continuous and rapid development in any activity that one chooses to pursue.  

    Most climbers in Japan start young. However, there are exceptions to this. Akira Waku who ascended an extremely challenging trail of difficulty level -V15 (a metric to measure difficulty) didn’t start climbing until his mid-30’s. He surely seems to have made up for lost time. Famous climber named Katsumasa Ueno settled in Tokyo states, “Japanese gym climbers go to climbing gyms purely out of their love and passion for climbing and not seeking fitness”. The driving force to keep pursuing climbing is the thrill, joy, and excitement of climbing and to keep getting better (aligns with the kaizen principle). He further states, while people from other countries may do yoga/aerobics/cardio/pilates and climb occasionally, serious climbers in Japan restructure their lives to pave way to keep climbing and getting better. This relentless and unwavering pursuit for excellence also explains why Japanese climbers have always flourished in international tournaments. In the Climbing World Cup in Colorado, Japanese men took first, second and fourth places in bouldering.

    Just moved to Tokyo? Still getting yourself settled and trying to figure out the million things you need to do from renting to sim cards to banking? Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Moving to Tokyo for your one stop checklist to starting your life in Japan!

    Before you go bouldering in Tokyo, you might ask yourself:

    1) Is bouldering for everyone?

    Bouldering is for everyone unless the person attempting has any health conditions (such as obesity) which they need to be careful of. One thing to be aware of is the insane amount of pressure on the elbows, other body parts can be excruciating, and it can lead to ligament tears and so forth. We recommend consulting a doctor or specialist before going bouldering in Tokyo.

    2) Can a complete novice attempt bouldering?

    Yes, a novice can attempt bouldering with the right shoes and with some initial guidance from an instructor or an experienced partner.

    3) Can I go bouldering in Tokyo by myself?

    Bouldering can be done alone. In fact, one of the reasons for bouldering’s popularity is the fact that it does not require company and expensive gear! Sure, the thrill of one’s friends/colleagues cheering on when one scales a wall adds to the excitement, but lack of company is certainly not a deterrent.

    4) Am I too old to  go bouldering?

    Generally - No, there is no specific age to start climbing! Just like in life, no one is too old to attempt anything new! So, age does not matter. Being relentless matters! A person who started young may most certainly be better owing to years or practice and experience! The famous Japanese principle of Kaizen can be applied here. The main essence of Kaizen is continuous improvement.  Attempting-falling-picking oneself up and trying again and thereby pursuing continuous improvement can beautifully be extrapolated to the context of bouldering too.  Therefore if a person does not have any specific health complications and is just above a certain age, we recommend consulting a doctor just to be on the safer side as bouldering is an intense activity. 

    Bouldering is an indoor activity. If you're looking to really bask in the great outdoors of Japan, there are two things to remember. One - be careful of bugs. Some of them are killers, literally. Two, check out our Ultimate Guide to Camping in Tokyo!

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    What’s the difference between rock climbing and bouldering in Tokyo?

    Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is close to the ground without requiring harnesses or ropes. As bouldering doesn’t require all the paraphernalia that accompanies serious rock climbing, it is far less intimidating for a newbie. Earlier, bouldering was considered as a form of training at home or gyms when one wasn’t rock climbing. Now, there has been a paradigm shift as gym workouts, running and even yoga is practiced by rock climbers as opposed to just bouldering for training. Also, bouldering has amassed enough popularity and is no longer considered as a part-time training for serious ‘rock-climbers’.


    Bouldering has boomed in an unimaginable way as it mitigates the difficulty of having to travel 1-2 hours away from the city to scale a climbing trail. Taking Tokyo as an example, one need not necessarily travel to Mitake boulders or Koshizawa buttress to climb. The possibility of climbing/training amidst busy localities like Akihabara or Shinjuku or Shibuya makes bouldering even more convenient and popular. Another point to be noted is that indoor bouldering is totally independent of outside weather conditions. Bouldering makes climbing/training possible even when the weather may be too hot or too cold or too wet!

    Heavy gear vs virtually no gear!

    The long list of gear for rock climbing includes ropes, harness, slings, helmets, carabiners, quick draws, chalk bag, chalk, climbing tape and shoes. For those interested in knowing more, this site delves deep into the functioning of each of these elements. The gear for climbing approximately results in a cumbersome load of 10-12 kgs. Beyond a point when exhaustion sets in, even the rope can start feeling very heavy as rock climbing is all about enduring whilst overcoming exhaustion. Bouldering on the other hand requires only the appropriate shoes and chalk powder and a crash pad. The long list of necessary gear for rock climbing also makes it more expensive as climbing gear can run into several hundred dollars!

    person rock climbing using a rope


    The vast difference in gear is attributed to the scaling height. Most bouldering gyms have walls ranging from 4-4.5 m in height. Whereas rock-climbing can range anywhere from 8m to 40m.However, scaling heights above 50m is not uncommon. The vast difference in heights also presents people with issues like vertigo and acrophobia (fear of heights) with a better alternative. Also, rock climbing requires climbers to have a lot of safety measures learnt and memorized. While some sports climbing routes are pre-bolted which allows one to cling on while ascending to the top, some routes are not. In cases where it is not pre-bolted, climbers would need friends and slings! 

    Bouldering is designed to be a solo activity. So, one can do away with all the hassle of coordinating times with the other person. Phew!!! That’s not to eliminate the fun when one’s friends or even strangers may cheer and root while scaling. When friends and other climbers watch and cheer for you, one may push himself/herself little-by-little and not give up. However, having company is not a prerequisite. 

    According to an expert climber, the goal of rock climbing is to reach the peak while boulderers aim to make a climb in the fewest number of moves.

    Endurance vs agility.

     Rock climbing requires higher levels of mental strength and endurance. A possible analogy is long distance running vs sprints. Bouldering thrives on strength and raw power while rock climbing relies mainly on endurance. This is not to say rock climbing doesn’t require strength. Rock climbing requires sustained efforts and energy conservation while bouldering involves agility, intense, precise movements and technical footwork whilst maintaining balance. Sometimes, with just 5-6 moves it is possible to ascend to the top in bouldering. This is impossible in the case of rock climbing. Rock climbing is much more slow-paced and certainly entails a lot many more moves than bouldering. 

    Bouldering is essentially solving a puzzle and hence, movements must be tailored to crack that puzzle. An expert climber states that bouldering facilitates a wholesome combination of intense physical activity and mental visualizations. Focusing and having a well thought out mental map of the path to be taken (keeping physical abilities and difficulty levels) in mind is crucial. The multi-colored protrusions in a bouldering wall are scattered across and each color corresponds to a certain level of difficulty. For e.g., if blue is chosen, the climber needs to mentally figure out a way to latch on to all the blue protrusions and thereby scale to the top. This is where analytical skills of problem-solving are needed. Which route to choose? How do I go about it? Wouldn’t it be better the other way? These are questions which need to be well-considered prior to beginning the ascend. Figuring out a way to track up the wall before beginning is better than getting stuck on the wall and not knowing how to proceed! 

    Check out https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-build-endurance to increase endurance for your bouldering experience.

    Muscle work

    In rock climbing, the calf muscles are engaged a lot whereas bouldering uses the abdomen and forearms a great deal. Forearms are used to have a grip and thrust the body upwards while ascending to the top while abs are used to cling to the wall to maintain balance. Muscles used in both rock climbing and bouldering are upper body: - biceps and triceps and lower body: - glutes and thighs. More detailed information on how the various muscles are engaged can be found here.  

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    In terms of injuries, finger related injuries are observed more in cases of bouldering while tendon and ligament tear are more common in cases of rock climbing. Injuries related to landing badly once the boulder is climbed can result in sprains and twisted ankles. Hence it is advisable for beginners to request watchers or  in the gym to watch over them. Bruises and bleeding are more common in rock climbing as any abrasion to rocks may lead to skin-rashes and thus, slight bleeding.

    This seems like as good a time as any to mention that Japan's National Health Insurance is a wonderfully affordable and comprehensive system compared to *ahem* some others... If you aren't sure what's covered (or you're looking for private providers), check out our Ultimate Guide to Health Insurance in Japan.

    Table: Bouldering vs Rock Climbing

    The table below succinctly tabulates the core similarities/differences between rock climbing and bouldering. 


                Rock Climbing


    1) Ease of finding climbing spots

    In most cases a travel is involved (places with a rocky terrain)

    Easy to find bouldering gyms owing to the popularity of indoor climbing gyms.

    2) External weather conditions

    Weather conditions have an impact on rock climbing.

    Indoor gyms make it possible to climb irrespective of weather. 

    3) Necessary gear

    A long list of necessary equipment is necessary.

    Does not require a lot of equipment.

    4) Budget 

    Much more expensive owing to the cost of gear.

    Much more inexpensive as compared to rock climbing.

    5) Height

    Anywhere from 12m - 40m

    Maximum of 4-4.5m

    6) Vertigo/acrophobia

    Inadvisable for people being afraid of heights.

    A better alternative for people having acrophobia as the boulder is only 4-4.5m

    7) Requirement of company

    Company is necessary.

    A solo activity. Company is completely optional.

    8) Kind of skill

    Endurance is key.

    Brute strength with some problem-solving ability. 

    9) Muscles involved

    Calf, biceps, triceps, thigh

    Abdomen, forearm, biceps, triceps, 

    10) Common injuries

    Bruises, bleeding, tendon and ligament tear

    Ankle sprain, finger related injuries. 

     Check out Rock Climbing vs Bouldering [What’s the Difference?] to find out more in details about the difference between bouldering and rock climbing.

    backpack and gear for bouldering or rock climbing
    shoes for bouldering in Tokyo

    Essential gear for bouldering in Tokyo?

    Since climbing involves a lot of stretching, clothing should allow for flexibility and the fabric should be breathable. As far as the material is comfortable and allows for stretching, there is nothing unique about the sportswear for bouldering.  

    Bouldering requires very specific climbing shoes. Shoes for bouldering are very different from running shoes. They have a thicker sole to provide better traction. Most climbing shoes are also equipped with velcro straps instead of laces to avoid any tripping. Detailed information on additional design specifications can be found here

    Avoid wearing shoes that fit you perfectly for climbing!

    A very important point to remember is that climbing shoes need to be slightly tight and smaller than one’s real size. When shoes are loose, it is difficult to put pressure on toes. This can make scaling tedious. Also, loose shoes take more space and hence it would be difficult to balance on toes with them. If shoes of the ‘right-size’ are worn, the foot should make a fist inside the shoe so that it provides the necessary support while ascending. An invaluable guide to choose climbing shoes based on one's foot shape can be found here. In terms of materials, it is better to avoid leather as leather stretches with time thereby making them loose. Synthetic or nylon shoes are better as they do not stretch much. Since bouldering is popular in Tokyo, there are several shops selling climbing shoes. Since shoes play an extremely important role in bouldering, we have put together a few recommendations for bouldering in Tokyo. Keep reading!  I’ve been bouldering and you have to either have bouldering shoes or they will make you rent a pair from memory. 

    Trying to get in shape? Bouldering in Tokyo is a great place to start. Another thing we ABSOLUTELY LOVE is hitting the trails and hiking. And we mean actually hiking and not just writing it on your dating profile 😉 If you're a beginner hiker and wondering where to start, check out the Ultimate Guide to Hiking in Tokyo here

    Recommendations on buying shoes for bouldering in Tokyo

    To help you in your search for buying climbing shoes, we have put together a few shops in Tokyo along with the location and operation hours.

    B-Pump Ogikubo

     This shop is attached to the B-Pump Ogikubo bouldering gym. They have an extensive range of climbing shoes catering to different price ranges. They also sell various other sportswear. This is a link to their online shop. It is also possible to rent climbing shoes as the store is attached to the gym. 

    Location: 3F Ogikubo Toa Kaikan, 1-10-12, Kamiogi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo (McDonald’s is located on the 1st floor of the same bld.) 

    TEL: 03-6279-9455

     Open: Weekday 12:00-23:00; Weekend: 10:00-22:00

    Kamoshika sports Tokyo

    Location: Kamoshika Sports Mountain Goods Shop, 1-28-6 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan

    TEL: 03-3232-1121

    Open: Weekday 11:00-19:30 , weekend 11:00-19:00


    Location: Japan, 161-0033 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Shimoochiai, 3 Chome−2−12 ILEDEREQUIN B1F

    Link to their online shop

    Tel: 0267-97-2077

    Open: 11:00-19:30 Monday, Wednesday-Sunday.

    Fixed holiday: Tuesdays 

    Side note: Bouldering in Tokyo WILL take a toll on your body so if you're just getting started, the best thing we can recommend to help you loosen up after a great session on the wall is a good massage. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Getting a Massage in Tokyo right here!











    Wallet-friendly recommendations to start bouldering in Tokyo!

    Here is a list of our recommendations for bouldering in Tokyo. Although there are a number of other options for bouldering in Tokyo, we have created a list that is more wallet-friendly! 

    B-Pump Akihabara

    One of Tokyo’s most popular bouldering gyms and it is a bouldering only gym. It is a 5-minute walk from Akihabara and Ochanomizu station. They have a registration fee of ¥2,200. Since B-Pump has another facility in Ogikubo, the registration fee is ¥1,100 if one has registered at the other pump gym. Climbing shoes can be rented for ¥330 (first rental is free). Anti-slipping chalk can be rented for ¥110. Students and under 18 get a substantial discount. B-Pump also offers a trial climb for beginners in which instructors teach the basics of climbing. Details here.  The charges vary according to time and day of the week. Rates corresponding to days taken from their site  are posted here for your reference. B-Pump also offers monthly, half-annual and annual membership schemes. Detailed information on membership schemes here.

    Location: 1-1-8, Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 

    5-minute walk from Akihabara station

    5-minute walk from Ochanomizu station

    Open: 12:00-23:00 (Weekday), 11:00-22:00 (Saturday), 10:00-21:00 (Sunday)

    Miyashita outdoor climbing park

    Nestled in the heart of Tokyo’s Shibuya, this climbing park is like an oasis. Miyashita park promises a great climbing facility coupled with other facilities like a volleyball court, skateboard park and a fabulous cafeteria. An outdoor haven amidst the hustle and bustle of bustling Shibuya certainly promises a fun escapade. The ascend to the top also promises amazing views of Tokyo! The Shibuya City Office site also elaborates on other facilities the park provides. This park is relatively small and hence it usually gets crowded. It may be better to visit it during lean hours on weekdays to avoid queues. Also, there is no admission fee and the charge for climbing the wall is very nominal at ¥350 per adult or ¥200 for elementary/junior high school students. 

    Location: 6-20 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

    Nearest station: Shibuya (3 minute walk from Shibuya station). This site elaborates on the exit that has to be taken at Shibuya station and the route to the park. 

    Open: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (Monday to Friday). Closed on weekends and national holidays.

    T Wall climbing gym

    A popular climbing gym that offers a variety of trails based on varying levels of difficulty. Reviewed well on Google for friendly and helpful staff, this place is also frequented by many internationals, thereby providing an opportunity to socialize. There is a registration fee of ¥500 which is quite pocket-friendly and a one-day pass for ¥2000.

    Location: 2-10-12 Mori, Koto-ku, Tokyo

    Open: 1:30 pm-10:40pm (Tuesday-Thursday); 10:00 am-8:00 pm (Weekend). Closed on Monday. 

    Spo-Dori (Indoor climbing gym) in Tokyo Dome city

     One of the largest bouldering walls (40m wide and 4m tall) in Tokyo. The Tokyo dome arena where this climbing gym is located, also boasts of a batting machine, golf range and a pitching game. Shoes can be rented for a nominal fee of ¥350 (free for 1st visit). Chalk can be rented for ¥250. A one-time registration of ¥800. School/university students get a ¥200 discount. People over 60 and junior school students get an even more substantial discount. A one- day pass costs ¥1700. This site further elaborates on pricing and discounts. 

     Location: 1-3-61, Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8575, Japan.

    Open: 10:00-22:00 every day.

    Fitness Climbing Studio Lago

    An extremely wallet-friendly option and relatively lesser-known, this climbing studio offers varying rates by time slot and gender. In order to encourage more women to try bouldering, fees for women are ¥200 less than men. Climbing shoes can be rented for ¥300 while chalk costs ¥200. There is a facility for lockers at ¥500 a month. 

    Time slots 



    10:00am-2:00 pm weekday



    2:00pm-6:00pm weekday







    10:00am-7:00pm weekend 







    Location: 168-0062 Tokyo, Suginami City, Honan, 1 Chome−7−3. 

    (Approximately 5 mins walk from Daitabashi station) 

    Open: 10:00am-11:00pm every day.

    Late night bouldering session? Still got a little energy left and want to hit the town? We've made it easy for you to find the Best Things to Do in Tokyo at Night right here!

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    Final thoughts

    Bouldering is truly an amazing activity to engage one’s body and mind. Bouldering provides one with an opportunity to test one’s physical limits and it also provides a thrilling puzzle for climbers to analyze and work their way to the top without getting stuck in the middle. It also is a great stress buster. 

    We know life can be stressful and hard at times and bouldering is a thrilling activity where one can get recharged! The bouldering scene in Japan is super happening and Tokyo is certainly a haven for aspiring climbers. As Tokyo has a number of bouldering gyms, one has a plethora of options to choose from, taking budget and level of difficulty into consideration. We hope our Ultimate Guide to Bouldering in Tokyo encourages you to start climbing!

    Looking for more outdoor activities in Tokyo? Ice Skating is another great option and is available all year round! Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Ice Skating in Tokyo here.

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