The summer heat is just around the corner, which means the city's many great public pools are gearing up for high season. If you'd rather skip the outrageously priced hotel options and swim on the cheap, these are the ones to go for – admission is usually around ¥500 or less, the atmosphere is laidback and everyone's welcome, from old-timers to families with small children.
While some public pools can only be used by the residents of that particular ward or city, our picks are all open to the general public, so there's no stopping you from swimming into shape this summer.
The top 10 public pools
The vast Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa hosts this massive complex composed of a total of nine pools, a four-lane water slide, wave machines and plenty of space to work on your tan. Crowding can get out of hand here especially on weekends, when you can sometimes barely manage to slip into the water without bumping into fellow swimmers.
Open: July 15-September 3, 9.30am-6.30pm (July weekdays until 5.30pm, September weekdays until 5pm)
Admission: ¥2,500, children aged 6-15 ¥1,400
Offering nice views of nearby Tokyo Tower, this city-run, summer-only pool is one of the more popular swimming spots in central Tokyo. The 50m, eight-lane pool is open from July to September, while the facility also includes a second-floor terrace equipped with deck chairs – crowds not withstanding, this one rivals many hotel pools at a fraction of the price.
Open: July 1-September 15, 9am-8pm (Sep 1-15 until 5pm)
Admission: ¥600, children ¥240
This facility offers both a 25m pool and a kids' pool, and beach balls and other toys are allowed as long as the pools aren't super crowded. Note that these pools tend to close when the weather turns foul.
Open: July 1-September 10, 10am-8pm
Admission: ¥200, children ¥100
Situated close to the Kanamachi water purification plant, the oldest public park in Katsushika-ku hosts a playground, a small natural pond and this outdoor pool open during the summer months. The main pool is 11m wide and 25m long, and also includes a shallow area for small children. Note that swim caps are mandatory and no rentals are offered at the pool.
Open: July 20-August 31, 9.30am-7pm
Admission: For two hours: ¥240, children ¥40
Edogawa-ku's Sports Land opens as a pool during summer and an ice skating rink during winter. It also boasts two children’s pools (one of which has slide attached), tennis courts, an area for five-a-side football and a weight training/fitness room. 24-hour paid parking available.
Open: July 1-August 31, 9am-5pm and 6pm-9pm (Thu until 8pm)
Admission: ¥210, children ¥50
Sendagaya's Metropolitan Gymnasium has two pools, one a 50m, eight-lane Olympic one and the other a 25-metre, six-lane pool. These two and the weight training room can all be used for the ¥600 entrance fee, while all group fitness classes are free for the first 30 minutes (longer classes cost extra, prices from ¥520).
Open: Year-round, 9am-11pm (Sat until 10pm, Sun & hols until 9pm)
Admission: For two and a half hours: ¥600, children ¥260
Housing two Olympic-sized pools and a diving pool, this futuristic-looking facility often hosts international swimming competitions. Still, the Tatsumi Swimming Center welcomes all comers, as long as you're going on a 'public opening' day (check the website for details).
Open: Year-round, 9am-10pm
Admission: ¥600, children ¥260
Tama City's indoor swimming centre houses a 50-metre pool, a wave pool, water slides and kids' pools, making it a fun destination for visitors of all ages. There's also a steam sauna, a training room and a small 'sports hall' on the premises. Note that the entrance fee is for two hours during July and August – stay longer and you'll need to pay extra. The pool is closed on June 27 and July 11.
Open: Year-round, 9am-9.45pm (Sun & hols in Jan-Jun & Sep-Dec 9am-7.45pm)
Admission: ¥610, children ¥300
Sports facility close to Tamachi Station, complete with pools, a sauna, weights gym and aerobics classes. Activities like water dancing and water walking can also be attempted – but don't forget your swimming cap.
Open: Year-round, 8.30am-10pm (last entry 9.30pm)
Admission: ¥800, children ¥100
Opened in 2010, this Kinshicho facility houses a 25-metre, seven-lane pool plus a 50cm deep kids' pool and a jacuzzi. Swimming classes are also offered – in Japanese only, natch.
Open: Year-round (closed 3rd Mon of every month), 9am-10.30pm
Admission: For two hours: ¥500, children ¥270