Japan has a decent set of options when it comes to a day out and a flutter. There are the horses of course like many other countries, but also boat (kyotei) and bike racing (keirin) too.
In recent years, horse racing has been very successful in attracting younger punters, resulting in big and surprisingly diverse crowds. Boat and bike racing, on the other hand, are very different. Now and again there might be a relatively decent amount of people present, but nothing compared to the numbers found regularly heading to the racecourse. There’s nowhere near the same diversity either. In fact, there really isn’t any diversity at all. It’s basically just men in their mid-fifties and older — the vast majority of whom don’t exactly meet the description of moneyed.
Yet despite the shared interest, age and social background, it’s an amazingly solitary pursuit. There’s generally little in the way of banter or camaraderie. No idle chitchat or encouragement. Just studying, betting and then quietly heading back home.