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Apr. 20, Sun.*This program was first broadcast on Apr. 19, 2012


Since ancient times, there has been a belief in Japan that horses are messengers of the gods, or even gods themselves. Samurai shared their fate with their loyal horses; riding a brave steed was a great honor. The horse breeds that have been in Japan the longest are small in stature. They are known for their gentle nature, and people have always loved them. These days, the focus is on thoroughbreds. Horse racing in Japan boasts the world's highest revenues and has created many famous horses. The Japanese see parallels between horse racing and life, and they identify closely with stirring stories. One crowd favorite was a horse that racked up a perfect career record...of zero wins!

On this edition of BEGIN Japanology, our theme is horses. We look at horse-related rituals and traditions, and the way the Japanese have interacted with horses, as we seek a deeper understanding of their importance in Japanese culture.