Boat Race Biwako

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We have been to the Biwako Boat Racing Arena once before, but the weather was not that great at the time.

On this day, however, we had beautiful weather, albeit a bit windy,

so we could properly enjoy not only the races, but also the gorgeous scenery.

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This is the arena as seen from Lake Biwa's side.

I gotta say it looks way better from here, with nice glass windows.

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Here's another photo of the scenery.

Something you might find interesting is that you can actually watch the Lake Biwa summer fireworks display from here.

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The second floor is general seating, and there is no smoking allowed (you can smoke on the first floor). It has a nice view...

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... and a lot of vendors. You can find snacks, beer, coffee, boiled eggs (?) and more.

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The third floor is reserved seating, which costs a little bit more, but has nicer seats and a better view.

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Here we are enjoying the view. In the distance, you can see Mt. Mikami, also known as Omi Fuji.

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There's a small computer where you can check the odds from your seat.

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From the window we actually had the chance to see Umi no Ko, the floating school.

Fifth graders all around Shiga take an overnight field trip on this boat to learn about Lake Biwa.

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We also saw the Michigan boat, which runs daily cruises around the lake.

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Maddie poses with the Boat Race Bible...

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...a thorough guide to the boat races.

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If you are not Japanese-savvy, there's also an English pamphlet that gives you the basics.

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To the left you can see one of many leaflets filled with statistics on the day's races. It includes info on the riders, engines etc.

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Here's a close-up of the betting card. There are many options and you can bet from 100 to 500,000 yen.

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Since the second floor has no computers for you to check, you might as well use one of the huge displays that show the odds and other valuable info for betters.

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There are automated betting machines so you don't have to interact with a human being.

Especially good if you are worried about your poor Japanese skills.

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I bet 100 yen and won about 1 million dollars, baby! Just kidding. I lost.

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One interesting aspect of boat races in Japan is that they happen simultaneously all around the country.

While you are waiting for your race to start, you can watch (and bet on) races happening in other arenas, such Kyushu and Okinawa.

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This giant clock is used to time the start of each race. (It's also a pokestop.)

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This is what a start looks like. Go number 1!

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Once the boats get near to the corner, they have to slow down to make the turn.

This is a decisive moment because if they pull it off right, they can get a big lead.

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Heading for the finish line! Come on, number 1!

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And we have a winner! IT'S... number 6... sadly...

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Did you win? Did you lose? Beer makes everything better.

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If you feel the need for something more substantial than a snack you can check the small cafeteria.

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Here's the curry we had. It has a nice assortment of toppings.

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These are the boat race girls. They look like Power Rangers and are in a lot of posters all around the place.

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This is a behind the scenes shot: Special thanks to these guys from Biwako Boat Racing for hosting us and showing us how to bet!