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I highly recommend Niall’s horse racing tour to anyone visiting Kyoto, and especially to those people for whom the experience of visiting another Kyoto temple (some of which are very beautiful) will be rather the same as their last visit to a Kyoto temple. Equally, I learned that attending the horse races is a common pastime for many Japanese, so Niall’s tour gives one a good insight into contemporary Japanese culture. As a long-term expat in Japan, Niall is knowledgeable of Kyoto and Japan more generally. We attended the Tenno Sho raceday, which is the largest annual raceday in Kyoto. Attending the raceday amongst many tens of thousands of Japanese was certainly a cultural experience and well off the tourist track. Niall and I had a punt on a few races, after which Niall was certainly ahead and I was not – good luck to him! Apart from some light gambling, we ate some Japanese food, had a few beers and chatted about our experiences in Japan and elsewhere. Niall was a terrific guide and host. I suspect that Niall would be able to arrange tourist activities in Kyoto (perhaps Osaka) other than the horse races. Coming from Australia, where Japanese horses have been noticeably successfully in major races over the past years, it was a pleasure to witness how the Japanese race horses in Japan.
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