Sport: Off and Running in Japan

In ancient Nippon, samurai warriors raced their horses for the honor of being the first to lop off an enemy's head. The horses are still running, but today the most that a man can lose is his bank account. In the past decade the total annual betting has increased tenfold to $1.6 billion, or more money than the government spends on national defense or foreign aid. Horse racing in fact has become the new national pastime of Japan, outdrawing major league baseball in attendance last year by the astounding margin of 60 million to 7,400,000.

Last week railbirds camped outside the Tokyo...

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