Japan Australia Pages

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Tokyo Racecourse ~ More Than Just Horse Racing

Tokyo Racecourse
Looking for a cheap & fun day out in Tokyo? Check out Tokyo Racecourse located only a short 20-minute train ride from downtown Tokyo in Fuchu City.

Tokyo Racecourse, which is run by the Japan Racing Association (JRA), is a fun family orientated travel destination just outside of central Tokyo that is a great escape from the big city. A visit here is like taking a day trip from the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo, whisking you away to a thrilling location that feels like you are miles away in a totally different part of the country.

Back home in Australia, a day at the races means men in suits, ladies in gorgeous dresses and fascinators (hats), and a chance to mingle with the rich and famous for a day. In Japan, it is more of a family affair with kids and cute mascots. There is definitely something for everyone at Tokyo Racecourse.

Entry to the theme park-esque venue is only 200 yen for live race days and FREE on days with no races, and includes access to all the ride and attractions for FREE. There are a lot of staff on hand at each attraction to ensure that everything goes smoothly and everyone is safe and looked after with the greatest of care.

There are lots of entertaining spots to enjoy for the day at Tokyo Racecourse including the various activities and attractions below: 

Fuji View Grandstand & Grassed Area 

A massive modern grandstand that offers views of the iconic Mount Fuji on clear days, it is the perfect place to take in a race and feel the excitement and atmosphere of a day out at the races. Bring a picnic blanket and your lunch box and you can relax on the grassed area near the grandstand to admire Japan’s best thoroughbreds in action.

Fuji View Grandstand

Infield Amusement Playground 

Follow the underground passage under the track to kids heaven at the infield amusement playground which includes a huge blown up Turfy (JRA mascot) jumping castle, JR-dome adventure playground, mini Shinkansen ride and food fair with a different theme each week.

Turfy JRA Mascot

Hiyoshigaoka Park 

The kids will love the playground equipment at this cool park which includes a huge wooden pirate ship, jungle gym, grass lawn to play on and sand pit.

Pirate Ship at Hiyoshigaoka Park

Horse Riding Experience 

Jump on the back of a former racehorse in the paddock to experience what it is like to ride these majestic animals.

Horse Riding Experience

Horse Patting (Uma no Fureai

A great place for the kids to stroke the horses and get comfortable with these beautiful warm animals. There are little ponies for the little ones, and bigger horses for the big kids. This is a fantastic spot for that golden photo opportunity.

Horse Patting (Uma no Fureai)

Horse Carriage Ride in Rose Garden 

Enjoy a slow stroll around the rose garden in a horse-pulled carriage through the Zelkova-lined street. You will feel like royalty with this relaxing ride which comes complete with driver dressed in elegant attire.

Horse Carriage Ride in Rose Garden

Horse Viewing in the Parade Ring 

Catch a glimpse of the race horses and jockeys close up before the race. This is the place where the punters will be studying the horses before the race to try and pick a winner.

Horse Viewing in the Parade Ring

JRA Racing Museum 

Learn all about the storied-history of horses and horse racing in Japan, including a hall of fame of Japan’s most famous horses.

JRA Racing Museum

Restaurants & Food Court 

One of the hardest decisions you will have to make at Tokyo Racecourse is what to eat. With a wide-range of restaurants located all around the venue you have some great choices including some of my personal favourites such as Coco Ichibanya and Hanamaru. If you are on a budget, you are also allowed to bring your own food and drinks into the venue.

Umajo Spot 

The Umajo spot is a women’s-only café at Tokyo Racecourse designed to appeal to younger women. Here female visitors can enjoy special horse-themed goodies and drinks while learning all about the betting process in a cute kawaii space.

Umajo Spot

Japanese-style Garden 

Enjoy the seasonal beauty of this quiet and peaceful Japanese-style garden located behind the horse viewing parade ring. In spring, the garden comes alive with cherry blossoms, and in fall, there is colorful autumn leaves to admire. There is also a large pond featuring Japanese koi (carp) and plenty places to sit and soak up the beauty and atmosphere.

Japanese-style Garden

Horse Show 

Watch some equestrian elegance here with a horse show featuring acrobatics, trotting and beautiful dance performances by the horses.

Horse Show

Future Events 

On November 24th, 2019, the Japan Cup, a big Group 1 race will be held at Tokyo Racecourse. This international event will feature horses from around the world and is one of world racing’s richest purses.

In conjunction with the Japan Cup on November 24th, from 9:00 - 16:00, there will be the following events:

(1) Special novelty items will be gifted to visitors on answering a simple questionnaire.

(2) There will also be a stamp rally and those who participate and complete it, will get a discount coupon of 1000 yen that can be used at any of the food stalls or presented with a novelty item.

Note: These events are only for overseas visitors to Japan.

For more information about Tokyo Racecourse, visit the JRA website.

Tokyo Racecourse Information 

Address: 1-1 Hiyoshi-cho, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo, 183-0024

Entry fee: ¥200 (free for children under 15) on live race days. FREE for all on non-race days.

Open hours: 9am-5pm on race days

Weekdays: 10am-noon, 1pm-4pm (except Mondays, Tuesdays, holidays)

Website: japanracing.jp


Take the Keio Line from Shinjuku and either get off at Fuchu Keiba Seimon Mae Station or Higashi-Fuchu Station. The walk from Fuchu Keiba Seimon Mae Station to the main gate is only 2 minutes, while from Higashi-Fuchu Station, it is a 10-minute walk.

Tapioca Tea from the 360 View Cafe

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Enthronement Ceremony for Japan’s Emperor

Emperor proclaims enthronement in a special ceremony
Today, Tuesday, October 22nd is a National Holiday in Japan to celebrate the formal enthronement of Emperor Naruhito.

At 1pm (JST) Japan’s new Emperor, Naruhito formally proclaimed his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne in an ancient-style ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

The central enthronement ceremony, called “Sokui no Rei” in Japanese is held at the “Seiden Matsu no Ma”, the Seiden State Room of the Imperial Palace. About 2,000 dignitaries attended the ceremony including the Prime Minister of Japan, heads of both Diet chambers, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and foreign dignitaries from about 190 countries.

The short ceremony involved the Emperor, who was dressed in a traditional reddish brown robe called the “Kourozen no Gohou”, entering the State Room with his chamberlains who carried two of the three sacred Imperial treasures (the scared sword, and the sacred jewel), which act as symbols of Imperial power.

Emperor proclaims enthronement in a special ceremony
Image from NHK World Japan

The Emperor proclaimed his accession to the throne on the 6.5-meter-high Takamikura, also known as the Chrysanthemum Throne in the center of the room. The Takamikura (高御座) is a special throne kept in the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and is used by the Japanese monarchy for enthronement ceremonies. It has been used for important ceremonies since the Nara Period in the 8th Century.

The current throne, along with the “Michodai” or the “August Seat” for the Empress were made in 1913 for the accession of Emperor Taisho.

The Takamikura Chrysanthemum Throne
The Takamikura Throne from Wikimedia Commons

The elaborately decorated octagonal canopy of the throne is decorated with a side panel of a phoenix and a Qilin (dragon-headed creature), while the canopy is topped with a large golden statue of a phoenix. Inside the throne are stands called “An”, where the sacred Imperial treasures, along with the State Seal and Privy Seal will be placed.

The Takamikura and the Michodai Thrones
Image from NHK World Japan

According to legend, the Japanese monarchy is said to have been founded in 660 BC by the legendary Emperor Jimmu. It is the oldest continuing hereditary monarchy in the world with Emperor Naruhito, the 126th monarch to sit upon the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Summer Fireworks in Japan

The Gamagori Summer Fireworks Festival
Summer fireworks in Japan have a long history and can be considered a quintessential part of the warmer months in Japan. Across the country, hundreds of fireworks festivals are held every year, but two of the best and most traditional are held in the Mikawa region of central Japan.

Armadas, a video production company based in Japan recently released a stunning 8K video which captures all the thrills and excitement of a summer fireworks festival in Japan.

Shot in the Mikawa region of eastern Aichi Prefecture, this old province in central Japan was one of the few places where gunpowder could be manufactured during the Edo period (1603-1868). The making of firearms gradually evolved into the production of fireworks, including the unique tezutsu hand-held fireworks, which originated in Toyohashi City. Originally used as a form of battlefield and inter-castle communication devices, they are now a popular summer festival attraction.

The Gamagori Summer Fireworks Festival which is held annually on the last weekend of July, starts on the Saturday with “Yosakoi” street dancing and climaxes with a stunning fireworks display on the Sunday. It can boast the largest explosive round in the entire Pacific Rim with an astounding 90cm-diameter 300 kg shell.

The Gamagori Summer Fireworks Festival
Image from Aichi Now

The Toyohashi Fire Festival in September at the home of hand-held fireworks in Japan features tezutsu hanabi accompanied by the sounds of taiko Japanese drumming.

The Toyohashi Fire Festival
Image from Aichi Now

Take a look at this 8K video from Armadas shot in Toyohashi and Gamagori City to experience a traditional Japanese summer fireworks festival at its best.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Japan in 8K

Japan in 8K
Japan is an amazing country full of contrasts from natural landscapes to high-tech modern marvels. Most of us have seen Japan from the ground but taking a look above from the air gives you a totally new and different perspective.

Armadas, a video production company based in Japan recently released a stunning 8K video which captures the beauty of Japan from above. The video highlights major tourist attractions such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama, Nagoya and Hakodate. Some of the amazing sights include:

Hakodate, one of the main cities in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island is the gateway to this wild & rugged northern frontier. The city is famous for its dramatic night views from the top of Mount Hakodate and Fort Goryokaku, which was Japan’s first western-style fortress.

Yohohama is a lively port city south of Tokyo that was one of the first Japanese ports opened to foreign trade. This video beautiful captures the Minato Mirai 21 area of Yokohama, which is a seaside urban area that features many large skyscrapers including the Landmark Tower and Queen’s Towers as well as the colourful Cosmo World Ferris Wheel.

Nagoya is a manufacturing and shipping hub in central Japan that was a key player in Japan’s economic revival. The city is home to one of Japan’s best and most historic castles as well as some amazing modern architecture such as JR Central Towers, Midland Square and the Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers.

Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital is home to some of Japan’s most important temples and shrines. The Kyoto Station area features some interesting architecture with Kyoto Station one of the largest buildings in Japan and a shopping and transportation hub. Kyoto Tower is a rocket poised for takeoff on the doorstep of the station and a popular landmark.

Tokyo is Japan’s modern capital and is the world’s most populous metropolis. The city is home to some of Japan’s best architectural marvels from the twin towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building in Shinjuku to the iconic Tokyo Tower, regarded as the symbol of Tokyo. Tokyo Skytree towering over the city at 634 meters is the new modern symbol of Tokyo and one of its best landmarks.

Take a look at this video from Armadas and sit back and enjoy the show from above.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

WOWBOX Japanese Snacks

Japanese snacks are known the world over for their great taste and huge variety with flavours coming and going depending on the season and the time of the year in Japan. Many people will stock up on Japanese snacks while visiting Japan to take home to enjoy as a souvenir, but now you can also easily order Japanese snacks online at your convenience.

WOWBOX is a Japanese snack subscription service that allows you to order your favourite Japanese snacks direct from Tokyo with just a click of your mouse button.

WOWBOX offer one-of-a-kind themed boxes of exclusive Japanese snacks delivered monthly to your doorstep with FREE worldwide shipping. They have four different themes on offer to suit everyone’s taste with one of the most popular being the ‘New & Limited’, which as the name suggests, is filled with new and limited time snacks found in Japan. The four themes include:

Fun & Tasty’ – WOWBOX’s original box designed for all lovers of Japanese snacks or those new to Japanese treats

Kawaii & Beauty’ – for those who love cute and dainty treats made for the health conscious with beauty-themed products and low-calorie snacks

New & Limited’ – a great selection of new and limited snacks from Japan for the Japanese snack connoisseur

Dagashi Box’ – a nostalgic collection of snacks that will remind you of childhood in Japan

You can find more information about all these boxes at the WOWBOX website.

I was recently sent a ‘Fun & Tasty’ WOWBOX full of tasty goodies to try during Obon in Japan. All the snacks were amazing with some cool and unique snacks that I haven’t even been able to find here in Japan at the supermarket or convenience store.



WOWBOX goodies

I was particularly excited about the Meiji Pucca Chocolate Box with its limited edition design featuring the Tokyo 2020 mascots, and the Ottotto Pokemon Box, which featured 40 different kinds of Pokemon shaped treats.

Meiji Pucca Chocolate Box

Ottotto Pokemon Box

I was also really surprised to find included some special September WOWBOX items such as the new KOIKEYA [Feel Aloha] series potato chips in ‘Mango & Butter’ flavour and ‘Coconut & Salt’ flavour, both of which were tropical heaven in summer. To top that off, was the Country Ma’am Cookies in Vanilla & Strawberry Shortcake (a commemorative collaboration to celebrate its 35th anniversary as well as Hello Kitty’s 45th anniversary).

These 3 new & exclusive items are available to anyone who orders any large size box BEFORE August 31st 2019.

September WOWBOX

If you are keen to order yourself some amazing Japanese snacks visit the WOWBOX website and enter this exclusive Coupon Code JPAU2019 for Japan Australia followers to receive 10% OFF any large size box. Hurry as the offer expires on 9/15/2019.

You can follow WOWBOX on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with all their exclusive offers.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

5 Unique Experiences in Tokyo

MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM – teamLab Borderless
Tokyo, Japan’s modern capital has many highlights from the ancient Sensoji Temple in Asakusa to the nightlife of Shinjuku. Tokyo pretty much has it all and is a city like no other on the planet.

If you are looking for something a little bit different from the norm and a totally unique experience, check out these 5 unique experiences in Tokyo.

MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM – teamLab Borderless 

One of the most popular and unique museums in Tokyo is the MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM – teamLab Borderless. This futuristic digital art museum in the Odaiba area of Tokyo is a world of artwork without boundaries that will stimulate all of your five senses. Wander around and experience art moving out of rooms as well as a chance to interact and communicate with the art in a three-dimensional 10,000 square meter world.

Official Website

MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM – teamLab Borderless
MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM | Photo by rabbit_akra on flickr

Robot Restaurant 

Japan is known around the world for its robot technology and now you can experience it first-hand at the Robot Restaurant in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku. One of the top tourists attractions in Tokyo, it is one of the wildest and craziest shows on the planet. Be prepared for your eyes and ears to be bombarded with laser lights, noise and kitsch. Enjoy a bento-box meal while you watch the fun-filled show, which includes fembots, robot fights, dinosaurs and sexy dancers.

Official Website 

Robot Restaurant
Fembots at the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku | Photo by Cory Doctorow on Wikimedia Commons

Join a Cooking Class 

Tokyo has more Michelin Stars than any other city in the world with some amazing authentic regional food on offer from all across the country. Food is a big part of any trip to Japan, so why not take it to the next level by joining a cooking class in Tokyo. A wide variety of cooking classes are available such as sushi making, ramen, bento making and wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionary). You can even join a regular Japanese family for some traditional home-cooked Japanese dishes as well as vegan and vegetarian options.

Book an authentic cooking class in Tokyo!

Sushi Making Class
Sushi Making Class

Anata no Warehouse Kawasaki 

Tokyo is home to some of Japan’s best video arcades including Anata no Warehouse in Kawasaki, an industrial city in the Greater Tokyo area. This five-story arcade is specifically designed to look like the former Walled City of Kowloon in Hong Kong. This dystopian amusement arcade is strictly for adults with its sci-fi Blade Runner-esque atmosphere, it feels like you are entering an alien world. If you are a gamer, this is heaven for you, with each level of the building dedicated to different type of gamers.

Official Website

Anata no Warehouse Kawasaki
Anata no Warehouse | Photo by Ken Ohyama on Wikimedia Commons


Odaiba is a high-tech entertainment and shopping area on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Here you will find the iconic rainbow bridge which connects Odaiba to the heart of Tokyo as well as a life-size Gundam statue and a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Odaiba is home to the MORI Building Digital Art Museum, Venus Fort, a Venice-themed shopping mall, Zepp Tokyo, one of Tokyo’s largest concert halls/nightclubs and the Aqua City and Diver City shopping centers.

Rainbow Bridge at night from Odaiba | Photo by Gussisaurio on Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Discover 5 Things to do in Takayama

Takayama Old Town
Gifu Prefecture in central Japan is one of the best off the beaten path travel destinations in Japan. The landlocked prefecture is surrounded by stunning mountains and is home to traditional mountain villages and Edo period (1603-1868) castle towns that give you a taste of the authentic Japan of the past.

One of the many must see destinations is Hida Takayama, which is located in the Hida region of Gifu Prefecture in the northern Japan Alps. Takayama is famous for its well-preserved old town, woodwork and its traditional festival, which is one of the most beautiful in Japan.

Here are the top 5 things to experience in Takayama.

Sanmachi Suji (Takayama Old Town) 

The Sanmachi Suji historic district is the home of old Takayama and lined with some of the best preserved Edo period merchant houses in all of Japan. Today, the beautiful wooden buildings are restaurants, cafes, museums, local craft shops and sake breweries allowing you to taste and feel the amazing culture of this authentic part of Japan. Walking these ancient streets you can experience what Japan was like during the age of the samurai.

Takayama Old Town
Takayama Old Town

Takayama Jinya 

Takayama Jinya is a beautifully preserved government building from the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate. During the age of the samurai, the Hida region was placed under the direct control of the Shogunate due to its valuable timber resources. This historic building is now a museum giving you a look at how a local government office controlled by the shogunate would have looked.

Hida no Sato 

Hida no Sato (Hida Folk Village) is an open air museum located just outside of the center of Takayama that recreates a traditional mountain village of the Hida region. This amazing attraction features over 30 traditional buildings from Hida, including traditional thatched-roof gassho-zukuri farmhouses, which were moved here from nearby Shirakawago (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Okuhida Onsen 

Okuhida Onsen is a collection of five onsen villages just outside of Takayama. This is one of the best spots in Japan to experiences natural outdoor hot springs with the area having the most open air baths (rotenburo) in all of Japan. Stay overnight at a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan) to soak up the experience even further.

Takayama Festival 

The Takayama Festival is regarded as one of Japan’s three most beautiful festivals. Held twice a year in spring and autumn, the main attraction of the festival are the traditional yatai festival floats, which highlight the famous woodwork of the master craftsmen of the area.

Learn more about Hida Takayama by watching this amazing video from japan-guide.com

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