Japan Speedboat Racing at Lake Hamana, Shizuoka Prefecture


Experience the only-in-Japan sport of powerboat racing at Boat Race Hamanako stadium. Enjoy a tour of the facilities, an introduction to this unique sport, and instructions on how to use a Betting Card. Watch four races as part of your experience.


  • Watch Japan powerboat racing at Boat Race Hamanako
  • Try your luck at one of Japan's public sporting events
  • Watch four races as part of your experience

Key Information

Important Information

You must be age 20 or over to join this experience


Introduced in Japan in 1952, competitive boat racing (kyōtei) is one of Japan's four public sports (kōei kyōgi) that permit members of the public to legally place bets. In this experience, you'll receive an introduction to the Boat Race Hamanako facilities and instruction on how to watch boat racing and use Betting Cards. The experience includes two cards: an Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Betting Card and one prepaid e-money card charged with 1800 JPY. Use the OMR card to select winning boats, then hold the prepaid e-money card over the reader to place a bet. Japan Boat Race Basics In Japanese powerboat racing, all of the boats in each race are basically the same, making this a competition based on the physical and mental skills of the racers. On any given race day, there will be a total of 12 races in one day. Six boats will compete in each race. In each race, the boats and racers use the same numbers and colors according to their initial lane position: Boat 1: White Boat 2: Black Boat 3: Red Boat 4: Blue Boat 5: Yellow Boat 6: Green When the boats are ready, the drivers take to the waters for a practice race, followed by timed 150-meter runs. This is partly to test the boats, but mainly to give you another chance to assess the field. After the warmup, everyone is ready for an actual race to begin. The boats will start off together from the dock. When the signal is given, each driver points his boat towards the starting line. Unlike most racing events, a boat race in Japan does not begin with a typical standing start. Instead, the racers are turned loose about 100 seconds before the race starts to jockey for position and, hopefully, achieve the best flying start within the designated time. As a giant clock counts down to the start of the race, the drivers will all navigate their boats around the first buoy, head towards the back straight and around the second buoy. Here, each driver will steer their boat back towards the starting line again to achieve the desired starting place. None of this activity is part of the actual race. Rather this part of the event is all about each racer trying to create even the smallest advantage in position over his opponents. The drivers all jockey for the best position at low speeds until about 30 seconds before the clocks reaches zero. The goal for each driver is to get his boat over the starting line at full speed as soon as the clock hits zero. Most importantly, if any boat crosses the starting line either before the clock hits zero, or too long after the clock hits zero, that driver is automatically disqualified from the race and scratched from the card. After each nerve-racking start, the ensuing race consists of three laps around the course, which takes these speedy crafts only about a minute to complete. Sample Itinerary 13:00 - Meet at Atrium Square at Boat Race Hamanako • Boat Race Hamanako facility introduction • Attendant explains the rules as you watch boat races 13:30 - Move to Royal Room at Boat Race Hamanako • Attendant explains the rules of the game and how to purchase and fill out an Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Betting Card 13:50 - Purchase Betting Cards and watch four races 15:30 - Experience officially ends Feel free to remain until the day's racing ends. Race ending varies with sunset time, roughly 17:10 in the summer or 16:10 in the winter.

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