Something for Everyone at JRA’s Tokyo Racecourse
Run by the Japan Racing Association (JRA), Tokyo Racecourse is famous for holding one of the world’s richest purses, the Grade 1 Japan Cup. A theme-park-like atmosphere makes the venue accessible for bettors of all levels including women, but also children.
General admission is 200 yen and anyone aged 20 and over can buy a betting ticket, which start at 100 yen. Information desks at Fuji View grandstand, are available on 2nd floor and above, so beginners and international visitors can easily learn how to make a bet and buy tickets. Everyone also receives a racing program and a map of the facility for free.
The racecourse is open mainly on weekends from 9am to 5pm and holds a total of 12 races per day. There are 88 eateries at the venue to satisfy your appetite. The selection is vast, from fast food chains to healthier mid-range options to high-end restaurants such as Hotel Okura and Kandagawa. During warmer months, there are food vendors inside the racetrack for foodie-themed events such as the Meat Festival.
Also inside the track are an amusement park with a jungle gym and a rideable mini Shinkansen that goes around the park. Nearby stands a giant inflatable bouncy castle in the shape of a cartoon horse character by Sanrio, which is JRA’s official mascot, named Turfy. Such attractions as well as a playground that features Anpanman statues and pirate ship-shaped play equipment are popular among young children. Some parents even bring their children to play at the racecourse on non-racing days.
The kawaii or cute factor is also employed in areas, to target young women. Since 2012, the JRA has been making efforts to attract female novice bettors and those with no experience in horse racing through a project called Umajo. On the fifth floor of the grandstand, there is a women-only spot where ladies can get a free cup of herbal tea, order pony-shaped sweets, and buy horse-themed goods. As a way to learn how to enjoy the sport of kings, lectures and tours conducted by female guides are held on a first-come-first-served basis.
With so many things to do for free at the racecourse, it’s possible to spend a whole day without betting on a single horse. Activities include petting horses, watching an equestrian dance show, and using a numbered ticket (supply is limited) to hop on a horse carriage or pretend to be a jockey by riding a horse yourself.
If you do place a bet and receive a decent payout or you want some memorabilia, why not hit the gift shop, situated on the second floor. You will find everything from special sake named after the Japanese Derby and plush toys of famous racehorses, to picture books from the Equine Museum of Japan, to Hello Kitty and Turfy limited edition items.
If you can’t make it to Tokyo Racecourse due to its schedule or location, you can visit Tokyo City Keiba (also known as Oi Racecourse), where races are held mostly on weekdays and sometimes at night. Located in the heart of the city, it is only 8 minutes from Hamamatsucho Station on the Tokyo Monorail and 10 minutes from Haneda Airport. The entrance fee is 100 yen and there are numerous events, restaurants, and illuminations that you cannot find at Tokyo Racecourse. With so much to gain at racecourses in Tokyo, why not make the most of the opportunity to visit?
Address: 1-1 Hiyoshi-cho, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo, 183-0024
Access: 2-minute walk from Fuchu-Keiba-Seimon-mae Station on the Keio Line
Entrance fee: ¥200 (free for children under 15)
Open hours on race days: 9am–5pm
Weekdays: 10am–noon, 1pm–4pm (except Mondays, Tuesdays, holidays, New Year, etc.)
Website (English, Chinese, Korean, and French): www.japanracing.jp
Tokyo City Keiba
Address: 2-1-2 Katsushima, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, 140-0012
Access: 2-minute walk from Oi-Keibajo-mae Station on the Tokyo Monorail
Entrance fee: ¥100 (free for children under 15)
Open hours: Depends on race day. Check website for details.
Website (English, Chinese, and Korean): www.tokyocitykeiba.com