The Guardian's Tokyo correspondent Justin McCurry takes us inside the world of keirin, Japan's billion-dollar bicycle races.

At every Olympics there is one cycling event that stands out above all the rest: keirin. It’s been in the Olympics since Sydney 2000, but it’s actually based on a form of track cycling that originated in post-war Japan.

Keirin is a gambling sport in Japan, and though it’s nowhere near as popular as the national pastime baseball, or held in the same regard as sumo, it is still a multi-billion dollar industry, with races taking place up and down the country on an almost daily basis.

The War on Wheels

Justin's book "The War on Wheels: Inside the Keirin and Japan's Cycling Subculture" is out now via all major book retailers. Get your hands on a copy here, or read The Japan Times' review. Find out more about keirin and where to watch it at

On this episode:

Justin McCurry: Twitter | Articles

Oscar Boyd: Twitter | Articles | Instagram


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