‘KEIRIN’ – a cycling track race event that takes place in the Olympics. It’s one of the international sport events now but is originated in Japan. In this series, we’re going to introduce Japanese ‘KEIRIN’ and its surrounding environment.
The theme in this chapter is ‘What sort of place a velodrome is?’
Let’s take an example of the Tachikawa Velodrome.
To enter the Tachikawa Velodrome, first you need to pay the entrance fee of 50 yen at the entrance gate.
In other words, at the Tachikawa Velodrome, you need a ’50-yen coin’ as you enter, because you need to insert the coin directly into the entrance machine gate. However, there are coin changing machines next to the entrance so you don’t need to worry about it if you don’t have the coin on arrival. Money changing machines for 50-yen coins are very rare to find anywhere else but here.
*Entrance fees differ depending on the velodrome. There are some velodromes which don’t charge you entrance fees.
Main stand (buying race tickets/payoffs)
On the first floor of the main stand which faces the homestretch line, you can you buy race tickets and receive payoffs. On the second floor upwards is the grandstand. You need an extra fee to enter there.
1st floor of the main stand
On the first floor of the main stand there aligns the vending machines for the tickets. That’s where you can buy tickets and receive payoffs.
There’s a number of machines there, both for buying tickets and payoffs. But you may queue up for a little while when it’s crowded.
In addition, at the time of off-tracking races, they’re streamed live on the monitors inside the facility. When a home race and an away race are held simultaneously, you can buy both tickets and watch both races. While you’re watching a home race here, you won’t miss another race which is taking place at different venues. You can enjoy them both.
There are special viewing seats from the second floor upwards. You need an extra fee to enter but the grandstand is available for numerous occasions to meet your demands. You can have the overall view of the bank, you can enjoy a race in a group, or rather, you’d be on your own and concentrate on your predictions quietly, etc. The grandstand is full of attractions and it’s most suitable when you want to have a decent time to enjoy a race.
General viewing spots
Let’s have a look at the general viewing spots. At the Tachikawa velodrome, most parts of the boundary line of the bank are the areas for viewing. The backstretch side is only open for special events and an extra fee is charged to enter. Otherwise all the areas are open for free.
The best position to witness the finish.
There’s a partial space available for wheelchair users near the 4th corner.
If you don’t want to miss a split second of a goal in front of your very eyes, 1st corner is the best position to be. You can see the cyclists’ battle to gain the advantageous position as they start, or you can also closely see their facial expressions after they’ve passed the finish line.
Beside 1st corner there’s no seats available. Instead, there are only handrails and staircases. It’s the area for standing only.
Above 1st corner
Above 1st corner there’s a three-storey stand. Usually, this area is closed but it’s open for spectators when the KEIRIN Grand Prix is held.
This is the best position of all the available areas which you can enter without an extra fee. You can have the best overall view of the bank from here.
1 Centre (between 1st and 2nd corners)
1 Centre is situated under the electric bulletin board. It’s hard to see the notices on the board but as a matter of fact, this is the only area near the bank that has seats.
The number of seats is limited, but this is a kind of a well-kept secret spot because at the time of the usual events there’s not a lot of people around.
It’s about 100m away from the main stand where you can buy tickets or receive payoffs. So it’ll be a bit inconvenient to come and go if you buy tickets for several times in a day. If you just concentrate on watching races, or if you buy tickets on the internet and have them in advance, this spot is highly recommended. It’s a good out-of-the-way spot.
But this area is a passage leading to the back stand. So presumably, it’ll be a little crowded at the time of the Grand Prix or the Commemorative race events.
2 Centre (between 3rd corner and 4th corner)
Unlike 1 Centre, there’s hardly any seats around here. Instead, you can see the electric bulletin board well.
Cyclists running past on the canted runway is an attractive feature of keirin. It’s only at either 1 or 2 Centres where you can have a close look at them.
The characteristic of the Tachikawa Velodrome is the fact that ‘the straight course is longer compared to other 400-metre banks and that’s advantageous for competitors who put a last spurt on. At Tachikawa, this would be the best position to see the final battle between racers coming around from the end of the final corner up to the finish line.
There’s a height gap between the runway and the spectators’ area. If you find it difficult to see a race, please use the attached footholds to get up on.
Diners and kiosks
At the back of the main stand lies the diners, kiosks or rest rooms.
If you want to know what you can eat at each diner, please check out the menus on the official website of the Tachikawa Velodrome.
(Visit the Tachikawa KEIRIN official site → scroll down the page to find out the menus. The menus are below the page.)
On the immediate right hand side of the main gate is the information centre. Several staff are there to help you out friendly. Please go and ask them if you come across any questions (basically, only Japanese is available).
Keirin paper stands
In the world of keirin, there’s a print media which is specialised in keirin news. It’s referred to as ‘keirin senmonshi’. In the papers, the predictions of future races and such are printed. It’s a good tool to enjoy keirin more.
There are three papers available at the Tachikawa Velodrome – ‘Aokei (Sports news sha, kk)’, ‘Akakei (Nikkan Prosports Shinbunsha, Inc.)’, and ‘Kawasaki Cycle’. If you want to know keirin in more detail and in more perspective, please check out those papers (only Japanese is available).