Tokyo-keiba (horse racing)
Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 4 of 6 › view all entries
October 11th, 2009 – by: hellokiel
Every weekend during the end of the summer and into the fall, thousands of Japanese and non-Japanese come together to enjoy the sport of horse racing, all for a measly 200yen. The arena is a very nice facility, boasting a range of restaurants, shops, a convenience store, and many different places to view the action from.
The actual betting can be very intimidating. Although there are electronic machines that accept your bets and pay you out (if you're lucky), deciding which horse is going to be your lucky one is, of course, the most difficult part. This is difficult not only if you have never bet on a horse race before and have no idea what's what, but also because everything is done in Japanese. Luckily, my friend Takuma is a seasoned pro when it comes down to business, so I followed his advice. While everything seems all fun and games, we all know that this is serious work.
We had a quick bowl of noodles and a beer, then settled into our game mode. I chose my picks, put the money in the machine, and staked out my spot to watch the action. One thing I learned, horse racing is horse racing, no matter where you are in the world. Spectators fill the seats and stands, silently watching as the flag drops and the horses jet out of their stalls. All is quiet.
I was one of those angry voices in the crowd. It was the second to last race, the biggest race of the day, and I had bet on a Triple where my three picks would have to finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in any order. My first two picks placed 1st and 2nd respectively. All I needed was my last horse to give that extra push, that extra step, that extra nose, to make it. All I needed was for it to place 3rd. Instead, it lost by a nose, literally, coming in 4th, and thus trampling on my chances of walking away with close to $400.
All things considered though, I had a great time. Sure, it would've been great had I won that extra money, but I was able to participate in a side of Japanese life that I might not have otherwise taken part of, had it not been for my friends. It was nice to get away from the crowds in the city for a day and join the massive crowd of people who had come to watch the races and partake in the excitement.
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