Banei Horse Racing
Draft-horse racing, called Banei Keiba in Japanese, only exists in Obihiro City, Hokkaido, an island located in the north of Japan. Draft horses are twice as big as thoroughbreds and drag more than 1,000 pounds of sleighs along the 218-yard dirt course during a race. This unique horse racing started about a hundred years ago while the horses were primarily used for farming. Over years, producers developed the draft horses exclusively for races. Today, about 10,000 individuals are involved in the draft-horse racing industry. However, changes in people’s leisure time activities and decline in the population in the surrounding towns almost led draft-horse racing to close its history. However, the large oppositions from fans saved the draft-horse racing, although its future is still uncertain. All the photographs were taken in March 2007.*Click the picture to see slideshow.