Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Exploring Tokyo: Setagaya Dori and JRA Park

(JRA entrance building, and horse gallery.)

The Japan Racing Association (JRA) is the company that holds the country's horse races. Betting on the horses is a very popular pastime, and there are 10 race courses in Japan, with races pretty much all year. Interestingly, horse racing is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries - the same group featured in Tori Miki's "Frozen Food Agent" manga.

Just off Setagaya Dori, midway between Noborito and Shibuya, is the JRA Equestrian Park. This is a combination kid's playground, horse and jockey training area, and botanical garden. The gardens include a greenhouse, plum trees, and flower beds. The kid's activities include riding in a horse-drawn cart. There's also a cafe, and a small gallery of old riding gear and pictures of past race horses.

("Please don't touch")

The park's mascot is "Turfy", a chibi manga-style horse.

Across the street from the park is the Tokyo University of Agriculture, and on the path leading into the park, there's the Museum of Food and Agriculture. Next to the museum is a bird coop containing about 20 chickens. The chickens don't seem to be related to the use of the horses as far as I can tell.

(Outside of the Food and Ag Museum.)

(Entrance and map to the park. It's a big park, for being in the middle of the city.)

(Lots of people want to just find a quiet place to practice music. On the Tama river, they seek out isolated sand bars. Here, it's the bleachers around a deserted practice field.)

(Inside the horse gallery. Pictures of past race horses, and jockey jersey numbers.)

(Painting in the gallery.)

(One of the jockeys is apparently a budding manga artist and drew a self-portrait next to his jersey number.)

(Pick-up point for children wanting to ride the horse-drawn carriage.)


Shiroibara said...

I used to love riding. My father kept horses in the back yard and later friends outside the city boarded the horses and let us come ride them and their own horses when we wanted. It's been years though and I no longer have the connections to do it (even if I had the time and money). I sometimes wondered if I would have been a good professional rider. Somehow I doubt it since I was just a little bit scared horses. Comes from getting bitten, run over, and bucked off too many times I guess. Do you ride?

TSOTE said...

I didn't have many opportunities to ride horses when I was younger. Maybe only 2 or 3 times tops, so I never got good at it. I'd love to be able to try it again at some point, but that doesn't look likely right now. But, I do like horses, and it's fun being able to get up close to them at the JRA park.