Forget all you’ve heard or seen about horse racing outside of Japan. My personal experience with western tracks and the image on TV or in Movies is a seedy place where desperate men go to sell their kids’ college fund on the next sure thing. Japan, at least at the Fuchu race track has created this clean and dare I say family affair.
They have a stadium that can supposedly hold 223,000 but the best part of the racing center is that you don’t have sit in the miniature seats built for the average Japanese adult. No in the center of the track is a grassy area open to the public, where you can set up a nice picnic just like Hanami (Spring festival where everyone goes to the park and drink). Of course as this is Japan you can bring your own alcohol. I recommend sitting right in front of the multi-screen “Turf Vision”, recognized as the world’s largest TV screen. As then you can see horses on the giant TV while they’re on the far side of the track and then watch as they roar past meters from where you’re sitting. When I first heard the thunder of horses closing in and the roar of the crowd I knew why so many people are into racing and why it can get addicting.
A few minutes away from the picnic area is a betting center where row upon row of machines are ready to take your bet. The betting cards are a little confusing at first but the race course wants foreigners to lose their money too so they’ve provided this easy to read, HOW TO BET IN ENGLISH that you can print out and bring to the track. The only complaint I have with the facility is the washrooms. Even the guy’s bathroom always has a line up, but a 5 min wait to take a piss is a small price to pay for a great day at the track.