Fukushima Racecourse is a horse racing facility in Fukushima city northeast of Honshu Island, Japan. The Fukushima Racecourse is one of the ten racecourses owned by the Japan Racing Association (JRA) and is the only JRA racecourse in the Tohoku Region.
The racecourse is also home to the Tanabata Festival in August. Fukushima holds the festival with the other cities in the northeast part of the island that celebrate the festival a month later than other cities in the country.
Fukushima holds three race meets a year in spring, summer, and autumn. Each race meeting is six to twelve days long and the most prominent races held are graded races from the third level.
Here is a brief account of the history and the facilities of the Fukushima Racecourse.
Fukushima Racecourse History
The City of Fukushima holds a long and rich horse racing history. The traditional Soma Namoi festival held in Fukushima every year has a history that dates back to more than 1000 years. The festival is celebrated to reminisce the time when samurai Taira no Masakado would catch wild horses and made their offering to the gods back in the tenth century. The festival has become a cultural asset for the locals as horsemen replicate warring scenes from the old times. This festival is also reflective of the fact that equestrian activities have been practiced in the region for thousands of years.
Coming back to modern times, while the city has a tumultuous past, mainly due to the nuclear disaster in 2011 that occurred due to an earthquake, Fukushima has a vibrant and lively vibe and is known for its traditional festivals like the Soma Namoi and horse races. The racecourse is one of the many attractions the historic city of Fukushima features.
Fukushima Racecourse has a history of more than 100 years. It was originally built in 1918. As one of Japan’s main horse breeding regions, it was only natural that Fukushima would have its own horse racing facility.
While local bodies initially managed the racecourse, it was taken over by the JRA once it was formed. Due to the earthquake in 2011, the racecourse was badly damaged, and racing was suspended. The racecourse’s grandstand overhang had collapsed, and various buildings were damaged severely. It took more than a year to reconstruct all that was damaged and resume races. The track reopened in April 2012. Around 30,000 people attended races on the first day of reopening at that time.
In March 2022, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 hit Fukushima and caused damage to the facilities, due to which races were cancelled and shifted to Hanshin and Nakayama Racecourse.
Fukushima Racecourse Facilities
Fukushima Racecourse comprises a turf, a dirt course, and a jump course. The turf course has a circumference of 1600. The dirt course is slightly smaller and measures approx. 1445m. The steeplechase course is also a turf course and has a length of around 491 m (s-line), while its width is 17.6 to 20m.
The grandstand building at Fukushima also features betting machines and payoff machines. Moreover, there are pari-mutuel assistance desks to facilitate the bettors. There is a multimedia screen across the spectator stands to facilitate the spectators and punters by providing a close-up view of the races.
Besides the racetracks and spectator stands, the racecourse also comprises recreational areas. There is a children’s play area as well as athletic facilities, thus making the racecourse a great place to come and enjoy with their families. You may also get to see performances from comedians, cartoon characters, or singers on race days as they parade in front of the crowds before the races begin.
The Fukushima racecourse is smaller compared to other racecourses. The spectator stands, course, and paddock are connected at a short distance. Race days at the course are an exciting time as people can visit with their families. While the children play in the open area, the elders can enjoy the live horse racing action.
Fukushima Racecourse Settings
Rails on the main turf course are used to alter the course setting. The A course setting refers to rails on the hedge, while the B and C settings are carried out by moving the rail out 2 and 4 meters, respectively. The B course measure around 1614m, while the C course measures 1628m.
Major Races At Fukushima Racecourse
The most prominent races held at Fukushima are Grade III, including the Fukushima Himba Stakes, Radio Nikkei Sho, Tanabata Sho, and the Fukushima Kinen, among others.