Tag Archive for horse festival

POTW: 7th May Tado Horse Festival

This Photo of the Week is from the Tado Horse Festival. I’ve written about this before, but the summary is that the event is hundreds of years old, and if the horse gets over a mound of earth atop a hill then there will be a good rice harvest later in the year. Following the festival the local farmers can begin to plant their rice. And there’s always a catch, the horse, rider, and the hill all have to be appropriately inebriated with sake. More details can be found in previous posts, and this time I provide more info than what is on Wikipedia/Tado_Festival. See the Tado Horse Festival gallery for more images.

Tado Horse Festival

The basics:

A drunken rider takes a drunken horse up a drunken hill. If they make it up and over a mound, then this heralds a good rice harvest later in the year. After the event the local farmers can begin planting their rice. About 120,000 people annually go to see this event, which dates back hundreds of years (I don’t know how many, I’m afraid). Local animal rights groups complain about the event and the stress it causes to the horses, and the participation of school-aged teenagers as well. The event has changed some features, including lowering the height of the mound / obstacle on top of the hill, and reducing the amount of alcohol the horses (and riders) are given. I’m not sure of the details, but it seems that this year the main change was the quantity of alcohol, but the mound seems be about the same as usual (though last years was low). Images will be added to this Tado Horse Festival portfolio in the coming days.

The mound atop the hill is broken to make it easier for the horse to get over.

A horse running up to the mound. The horse gets about a 100 meter run up.

Tado Horse Festival

Another annual event was run today. Essentially, they run a drunken youth rider, on a drunken horse, up a drunken mountain (and over a mound). If the horse and rider make it over (preferably together), then that heralds a good rice harvest this season.

In previous years, animal rights groups and the Mie Prefecture Board of Education (concerning especially youth affairs) have complained about this event. Horses are forced to consume alcohol, and the youth who ride them are about 17 years of age, and are drunk themselves. Horses are forced to run over a mound at the top of a steep slope, and there is a risk the horses could get hurt. Often the horses are frightened by the 120,000 spectators cheering the horse and rider on. At the mound that rider’s team try to help or force the horse over by pushing and pulling on the horse. Whilst there is risk to the horse, there are perhaps more risk to the people who have been carried or rushed to hospital in previous years. Furthermore, the animal rights group (I haven’t been able to attain their exact name yet) and the Education Board seem not to be so concerned for long standing cultural rights and traditions.

In any case, it seemed that this year the horse was not frothing at the mouth from too much sake, and the riders didn’t seem drunk at all. The teams standing either side of the track didn’t seem very drunk either. It appears that the fizz had been drained this year; perhaps creating a threat to the sense of community surrounding this event? Time will tell.

News: This year the mound at the top of the slope didn’t appear to have been broken very well, and so it was, as one person put it: ‘ambitious’. On this first day, most horses failed, but only one horse made it over, so there should be a good harvest this year. The horse that made it over was called Ganbare Tohoku (roughly translated as ‘keep trying / keep striving Tohoku’, a reference and call of encouragement to the people of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear stricken region).

For photos taken in previous years, see my Asia Photo Connection and PhotoShelter portfolios. This year I used black and white film (as I’m getting tired of digital), so new photos will be added to this post and my portfolios later.


Tado Horse Festival – Images by Andrew Blyth

Coming up this Spring

Coming up this Spring are a few important things. Firstly, a 10% discount for all purchases at my PhotoShelter portfolio with a minimum USD$25 purchase, unlimited use, until 30th March, 2011. Coupon code is: SUPERSPRING.

Secondly, the Spring Sumo tournament in Osaka has been cancelled due to match fixing allegations. It is the first time sumo had been cancelled since 1946, which itself was cancelled due to renovations to the Tokyo sumo venue. Here are my galleries, all eligible for the Spring 10% discount: Top wrestler, Hakuho, Sumo Spills, and general Japanese Sumo.

Thirdly, the Tado Horse Festival, is a Shinto religious festival intended to bring a good harvest for this coming growing season. If a horse can make it up the steep slope and over a mound-obstacle, then a good harvest is expected. Only after the event do the local farms begin sowing. The 10% Spring discount also applies to this PhotoShelter gallery.

That’s pretty much the main events that are coming up this Spring.