Do You Know The “Big Four” Horse Racecourses in Japan and Where to Find Them?

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  • Japan is a famous destination for equestrian sports such as horse racing (“keiba” in Japanese) as it has some of the biggest venues in the world which attract thousands of visitors and punters from various countries. The Japan Racing Association (JRA) is the ultimate administrative body that manages events at the 10 biggest racecourses in Japan which are as follows: Sapporo, Hakodate, Fukushima, Niigata, Tokyo, Nakayama, Chukyo, Kyoto, Hanshin, and Kokura. Out of them, the Tokyo, Nakayama, Hanshin, and Kyoto racecourses are considered as the “Big Four” because of their size and popularity. Let’s have a look at them!

    1. Tokyo Racecourse

    Fuchu City in Tokyo is home to a world-renowned racecourse with a total length of 2.4 km, hosting major events since its renovation in 2007 such as the Japan Cup, the Japanese Oaks, the NHK Mile Cup, the Yasuda Kinen, the Tenno Sho, and others.

    The venue is spread across tens of acres with facilities such as huge stadiums, horse training arenas, dirt and jump courses (apart from the main course), betting machines, TVs, and so on. There are also many things to do around the Tokyo Racecourse. You can visit the horseracing museum, drink Keiba cocktails, stroll around horse-themed parks and picnic spots, visit the Okunitama Shrine, and so on.

    Usually, you need not pay any entrance fee if you would like to watch a non-live race. However, a minimum of 200 yen must be paid for a live one. There are reserved docks for VIPs and others which offer perfect open-air views. During horseracing seasons, the entire place is packed with locals and tourists from different parts of the globe.

    For more information, check here.

    Tokyo Racecourse Website

    2. Nakayama Racecourse

    The Nakayama Racecourse is located in the Funabashi area of Chiba Prefecture, which is famous for its shopping malls and fun-filled events. It has been renovated a few years back, giving visitors better viewpoints by enhancing the facilities.

    Major race events, such as the Japanese Grand Prix (Arima Kinen), take place here, attracting thousands of visitors from all around Japan and abroad. It is one of the major racecourses outside of Tokyo which hosts some of the biggest G1 events and is equally popular as the Tokyo Racecourse.

    The best times to visit this racecourse is during Christmas and cherry blossom season as you can watch the races while enjoying the lights or flowers. There are theme parks, exhibition centers, media halls, betting centers, a parade ring, shopping plazas, and so on, in and around the Nakayama Racecourse.

    For more information, check here.

    Nakayama Racecourse Website

    3. Hanshin Racecourse

    If you are looking for major racecourses in Western Japan, the Kyoto and Hanshin Racecourses are the ones worth visiting.

    Built in the late ’40s, the Hanshin Racecourse is among the “Big Four” and it hosts major events such as the Oka Sho, the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, and the Takarazuka Kinen G1. One of the main reasons for its popularity is its accessibility from big cities in Western Japan such as Osaka and Kobe.

    It has facilities covered with a roof that allow visitors to witness the race even in harsh weather. It has been renovated in 2006, bringing a new look to the clockwise racecourse, which is, in fact, the largest of its kind in entire Japan.

    For more information, check here.

    Hanshin Racecourse Website

    4. Kyoto Racecourse

    The Kyoto Racecourse is one of the oldest racecourses in Japan, built sometime around 1924. It conducts events five times a year, the most important being the Spring Tenno Sho. Located near the old Yodo Castle site, this racecourse can be called the most beautiful racecourse in entire Japan as it has a lake in the center of its arena where you can find swans paddling gracefully. It is also famous for its inclined track that makes the race more exciting.

    For more information, check here.

    Kyoto Racecourse Website

    These are the “Big Four” racecourses in Japan that serve as venues for some of the largest national and international horseracing events. Do enjoy the races and bet if you would like to earn some cash, too.

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