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Type of horses ( Japanese native pony )

There is a total of eight Japanese native pony breeds that have remained in the country without being crossbred with any foreign horse breeds.
(Hokkaido Washu, Kiso, Noma, Misaki, Taishu, Tokara, Miyako and Yonaguni )

Distribution is as follows.


Hokkaido Washu (Dosanko)


A Hokkaido Washu Horse is mainly bred in Hokkaido island, in the far north of Japan, also known as their nickname 'Dosanko'.

Total numbers of the breed is approximately 1800, which is about 75 percent of existing Japan's native horses.

The Hokkaido washu's height ranges from 125cm to 135cm tall and the weight range varies from 350kg to 400kg; which is relatively large within the Japan native horses. The coat is usually bay, buckskin, Palomino and Cremello in colour.

Nowadays, a Hokkaido Washu is mainly bred in Hokkaido island but they were not originated from the island. It is believed that a Hokkaido Washu was brought to Hokkaido from the South during the Edo period. It was used as a work horse during the summer but was left in the winter. It gradually adapted to the island's hash climate and this is how the ancestor of Hokkaido Washu was settled in the island.


Hokkaido Washu played important roles through the history because; they managed to survive in very cold weather in the winter; had physical strength to run across the wild fields and also capable of carrying the luggages up to 200kg. So they used to use for transportation of goods or place travellers.

We could say that Hokkaido Washu was like a car or a trucker in the modern society.
However, mechanization took over their place as a method of conveyance.

As it is very calm, a Hokkaido Washu is very popular for horse riding, horse trekking, horseback archery, horse riding for disabled people and hose therapy.

A Hokkaido Washu is bred widely across Japan, you may be able to see them fairly often.



The Kiso, also called Kiso uma, has been designated as a natural treasure of Nagano Prefecture and mainly raised in Hida region in Gifu prefecture and Kiso region in Nagano Prefecture.

It usually stands around 136cm (stallion) and 133cm (mare), average weight ranges from 350kg to 420kg; which is a mid-sized horse in relation to other Japanese native breeds. The Kiso is known as a quiet and friendly horse with a wide and long body and short legs.

A Kiso horse can easily be distinguished from its protruding stomach. This is because its cecum is 30cm longer and two times thicker than other horse breeds.
Therefore, it can survive with very little vegetation.

In addition, the Kiso horse has very strong legs as it has been living in the mountains. It does not require any horseshoes thanks to its exceptionally hard hooves.


Although the origin remains unknown, it is said that the Kiso was originated from the Mongolian horses which were brought over to Japan via the South Korean Peninsula in between 2nd to 3rd century.

After 5-6th century, the number of these horses increased and widely spread through the country. The horses which were settled in Kiso area has come to be called by the name 'Kiso'.

Now there are approximately 200 Kiso in Japan and it is popular as a riding horse. Valued for its gentle personality, it is also suitable for the house riding for children.



A Noma, also called Noma uma, is mainly bred in Noma area in Imabari city, Ehime Prefecture. It has been designated as a natural monument of Imabari city.

The Noma is a pretty small horse with the average height of 110cm to 120cm. The common coat colour was gray in Edo period but it is commonly in bay or chestnut nowadays.

The ancestor of the Noma was believed to be existed in the Jomon period (14,000–300 BC) and it is considered as a family of other Japanese native horses which once lived in Shikoku, such as Tosa Koma and Ochi Koma.

In Edo priod, a Noma was used for farming and conveyance. The number reached to its peak, about 300 horses.

It was bred actively due to its physical strength with a little vegetation and it did't require horseshoes for carrying goods up to 70kg.

However, the Noma was led to the near-extinction with the expansion of the various farming ma-chines and make matters worse, the Japanese government banned breeding of all small horses in Meiji period.

Recently the Noma Horse Preservation Society has been established to revive the breed and there are about 80 purebred Noma horses at the moment.


It is clever and gentle, it has been widely used for hose therapy and club activities of local elemen-tary schools.

The Noma Horse Highland in Imabari is known for bleeding the Noma but there are also a few places in Japan that have been bred the Noma.



The Misaki inhabit to the Cape of Toi in Kushima city, Miyazaki Prefecture, and it has been desig-nated as a national natural treasure.

The Misaki Horse's height ranges from 100cm to 120cm, weighting around 300kg; categorised in a mid-sized horse breed in relation to other Japanese native horses. The coat is bay, dark bay or buckskin and usually has black hair on the lower legs.

Its origin dates back to 2000 years ago. It is believed that the ancestor of the Misaki horse came from the Chinese continent from the end of Jomon period to the middle of Yayoi period.

It has a bold body with the large head, yet it has relatively thin legs amongst other Japanese native horse breeds that were traditionally used for farming.

Since a special farm has opened at the Cape of Toi over 300 years ago, the Misaki has been kept in the feral environment. This method is so called 'year-round grazing' means that the horses are grazed through the year with the minimal human interference. This helps protecting and breeding the Misaki in the as natural environment as possible. It has adapted its semi-tropical climate (hot and humid, typhoons, special biota consisting mainly of lawn grass) and its robust body constitution, strong hindquarter was developed to survive in the given environment; the hilly terrain and withstand the lean diet.


The Misaki horse forms a groups which consist of a stallion with a few mares and their foals. This is called Harlem. Young stallions will also form a group only with other stallions.

Currently, approximately 100 of Misaki horses are existing as a result of the natural breeding. It is used as a tourism resources, however, it's been kept with a very little contact with human - for ex-ample when a Misaki horse died, it would be left on the land as it is until it decomposed naturally and return to the soil.

In this farm, you can see the horses live in the original form in the nature.

A Misaki is not used as a riding horse and you are not allowed to approach and touch. Please watch them gently from the distance when you visit the farm.



Original photos were from the Kyushu Tabi Net

The Taishu is a Japanese native horse that have been bred at Tsushima city, Nagasaki Prefecture.

The Taishu is commonly pronounced 'Taishuh' or 'Taishu ma' in Japanese but also read as "Taishu uma', 'Taishuma' or 'Tsushima uma'

They usually stand between 110cm to 130cm. Although the original coat was black in color, bay or chestnut are more common nowadays.

It has been believed that the Taishu horses played an active role at the Genko war (1274), war be-tween Japanese Shoguns against Mongolians, at Kamakura Period.

Like other Japanese native horses, the Taishu are quiet, withstand the lean diet and strong legs with hard hooves that won't require horseshoes. Therefore it has been used for farming, transporting woods, agricultural products and daily goods.

Geographically, the Tushima city is a very hilly place - the Taishu's special 'Side -to- walk' method (it walks with the same side of forefoot and hind together) suits very well with the environment. It learn this naturally and no need to train it.

Also when riding a Taishu horse, you can operate the horse only with a single rein tied to left side of its mouth - no need to use the bit.

It was only possible because of a good-natured personality of the Taishu.


Original photos were from the Kyushu Tabi Net

Now, only 30 Taishu horses are recorded and extinction has been feared.

In order to prevent it from extinction, the Taishu horse Preservation Society was formed.

The Taishu is also suitable for a riding, why don't you you go and try riding it in Tushima city.



The Tokara horse has been designated as a natural monument of Kagoshima Prefecture. It has been bred in Toshima Village in Tokara Islands, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Tokara Islands are part of the Nansei Islands. Nansei Islands is also known as Ryukyu islands which are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan. Tokara is-lands consist of the several islands and belonging to Satsunan Islands of Kagoshima Prefecture.

To be more precise, Tokara islands consist of twelve islands in between Yakushima island and Amami Oshima island, people are living in seven of those but five of which are inhabited.

The Tokara horse was first discovered in 1952 in Takara island, which is the southernmost of To-kara islands, by Professor Shigeyuki Hayashida of Kagoshima University, who introduced it as a Japan native pure breed.

This means it was discovered only 70 years ago - this might be caused by the remote location of Tokara Islands.

The Tokara is one of the smallest horses in Japanese native horse breeds, it stands from 100cm to 120cm with bay coat colour.


The Tokara horse came to Takara Island as a labor for sugarcane cultivation from Kikai Island which is located in the north-east of the Amami Islands .

It is best known for their tolerance to heat and has been used for agriculture and conveyance. Nowadays it is simply grazed in the area.

While other Japanese native horses have been used as a riding horse, there is no specific use for the Tokara at this moment. It would be important to decide how to utilize it to preserve its breed.



The Miyako horse has been designated as a natural monument of Okinawa, which has been bred in Miyako island, Okinawa Prefecture.

There are only 40 existing Miyako horses.

Traditionally it's been popular to breed small horses in Okinawa, some said the Miyako rooted to the Chinese horses and other thought the Miyako's ancestor was from the Korean Peninsula transmitted to Japan through the Kyushu island.

In Miyako horse's average height is 110cm to 120cm, it has quiet, very friendly and durable per-sonality. Its hard hooves are suitable for farming of a thin cane fields and coral stone roads. When the cultivation of sugar cane was started in Miyako island in Meiji period, the Miyako horse was used for farming because of its withstand the lean diet and hard working character.


It was used for the Ryukyu horse racing, which was the traditional competition of the Ryukyu King-dom. The Miyako was also used as a riding horse for the Ryuku kings.

This shows how easy and safe to handle the Miyako horse.

There is a horse riding facilities in Miyako island, If you travel to Okinawa, why not trying Miyako horse riding?



A Yonaguni horse has been designated as a natural monument of Yonaguni town and has been bred in Yonaguni Island, Okinawa Prefecture.

The origin of Yonaguni horse is still unknown, however, it is believed that the Yonaguni horse bloodline has been excluded from the crossbreeding and preserved as it was when people started bred various horses to produce larger horses because Yonaguni island is a remote island.


It stands between110cm to 120cm, the Yonaguni was used for Ryukyu horse racing as well as the Miyako horse, valued for three quiet and friendly personality.

It used to worked as farming horse and now it is mainly used for horse riding or tourism.

You can ride on the Yonagini horse in Okinawa. You can even explore the forest, walk around the beach and go into the sea with Yonaguni horses.