Keirin, Japanese track cycling, is a sport that generates over a trillion yen of bets a year. A huge amount of money that along with the Olympic variant conjures up images of a rather glamorous pastime. Even more so when the traditional location of Kyoto is added to the mix.
The reality, however, is different, as just like many tracks up and down the country, the Kyoto velodrome is wonderfully dated. A place stuck in a past when attendances were much larger, with many of the booths where people once bought tickets now shuttered up or covered with curtains.
Not that efforts aren’t made to entice new fans, and the likes of the decidedly grim playground in the photos below are part of an attempt to attract young families. Plus on the day we were there, there was the unexpected appearance of an idol group. Performers who brought in a very different crowd as well as providing quite a contrast to the surroundings.
A combination that all added up to a good day out. One that, as always, would have only been better if it had also involved a win.