Motorboat racing is one of four forms of legalized gambling in Japan, and there are racecourses all over the country. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Heiwajima Racecourse.
It was pretty interesting and I was happy with the photos I got, but it’s probably not for everyone.
Most of the people who go to watch the races are middle-aged and older down-on-their-luck males, and no one seems to get very excited about the races themselves. I don’t think I saw anyone smile the whole time I was there. It’s quite interesting, though, and admission is only 100 yen.
If you show up with a camera, a security guard will tell you that you need permission and take you to a little room where you have to fill out a simple form and promise not to take photos of the other spectators.
These Ryoichi Sasakawa statues are outside every Motorboat Racing facility.
From Tokyo Station, take the Keihin Tohoku Line to Omori Station. From there, go out the East Exit. There’s a free shuttle bus that runs every ten minutes on race days. The shuttle runs from 9:40 AM to 430 PM and leaves from Bus Stop #4. You can also walk (10 min.) from Heiwajima or Omori Kaigan Stations on the Keihin Kyuukou Railway. Here’s a map.
Here’s an explanation of the races: http://www.kyotei.or.jp/contents/basic_e/
Here’s an old but very interesting Sports Illustrated article.
A blog called Tokyo Times has a completely different take on Motorboat Racing from mine.