18 August 2015
Japanese Horse Racing
Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in Japan. In comparison to China, not only is betting legal in Japan but also the prize money is one of the highest in the world.
We are based in Hokkaido which is the primary Thoroughbred breeding area in Japan. Its cool temperature and dry weather conditions make it an ideal place for horse breeding. Here, you can see farms everywhere and Darley’s farms are located in the Tomikawa region which is in the south-west of Hokkaido.
We were lucky to go to the races on just our sixth day in Hokkaido. The racing was held at Mombetsu Racecourse, which is organised by local governments through the National Association of Racing (NAR). This was local racing, therefore the size and prize money was lower compared with others held in Metropolitan areas.
We are going to Sapporo Racecourse this Sunday where bigger races are held by the Japanese Racing Association (JRA) which is under the supervision of the Japanese Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
We were deeply impressed by the enthusiasm of Japanese people towards horse racing. No matter young or old, they are all keen to enjoy and be involved with the horse racing industry. We could see elderly ladies completing their betting cards, and little boys encouraging their favourite horses. Although the racing here was smaller in scale, it showed a great representation of Japanese horse racing culture.
Remarkable Japanese Culture
It is lucky that the Tomakomai annually fireworks festival is going to be held this weekend, and for this special occasion we bought beautiful traditional Japanese clothing called ‘yukata’ (for girls) and ‘jimbei’ (for boys).
The yukata is actually a kind of kimono but much easier to put on than the formal one. Traditionally people wear them in the summer at festivals and cultural ceremonies.
It is already seven days since we arrived in Japan, and the culture has impressed us a lot. Here, everything is unique – from a piece of cloth to a building in the countryside – they all represent Japanese cultural style. Additionally, all the staff at Darley Japan have been very considerate preparing all the things we need and making us feel welcome.
Although, sometimes there might be a language barrier between us and the local staff, we will be sure to study Japanese in our spare time and communicate more frequently with others and explore more about this fascinating country.