Wild Horse Racing in Kagoshima
With the new Kyushu Shinkansen line having opened in March, Southern Kyushu has become a lot closer. All the more reason to take the trip to Kagoshima and check out the fun and offbeat Kushikino Beach Horse Races in April. Located in western Kagoshima Prefecture on the East China Sea, Kushikino City is an old fishing and mining town featuring one of Japanﾕs great beaches and one of its largest sand dunes. The town has hosted this event since 1958, which features a race in which horses run for 2,000 meters along the coastline, making it the longest horserace in Japan. Kagoshima is well-known for its racehorse breeding, and over 90 of the beautiful creatures will be on hand to test their mettle against rivals. Not all the horses are professionals, however; racers include farm-horses and ponies. The races often offer amusing twists as well. Horses running up sandy hills or jumping into the ocean are sometimes an unexpected part of the show. There is no official betting at Kushikino, which, in conjunction with the whimsical spirit of the races, keeps the whole event lighthearted. Watching the brilliant beasts beating through white sand in the misty air against an oceanic backdrop is a spectacle so impressive that betting simply isn’t a priority. Starting from the 9:30 am taiko drum call that launches the proceedings, the Kushikino Beach Horse Races offer a unique Kyushu experience that will more than justify the short trip south.