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Horse Breeds
First Posted: June 28, 2009
Sep 28, 2010

Tokara Horse Breed


Video of Tokara Horses of Japan

3-D Flags
Country of Origin: Japan


Little is known about the history of this breed. It is believed that they were brought from Asia's mainland. Early in 1950, Dr. Shigeyuki Hayashida found a group of small horses living in the south side of the Tokara Islands and named they Tokara ponies. According to this man, around 1897 people from Kitaiga Island brought about ten native horses to Takara (not Tokara). They were used for farming, transportation of heavy objects, and in processing sugar cane grown in the area. In 1943, at the height of their popularity, the breed reached 100 head, but after World War II their numbers were reduced drastically. The horses have served as a religious symbol to the Japanese and have been integrated into Japanese culture.

Kagoshima Prefecture declared the ponies a prefectural national monument and sent them to the mainland for a time because of the difficult living conditions on the island. Today Kagoshima University, Iriki ranch, Kaimon National Park, and Nakano Island in the Tokara Islands are the centers for breeding and preservation of the Tokara pony. As of December 1988, a total of eighty-eight purebred animals remained.

Physical Description

The Tokara are quite small but amazingly strong. They stand 12-14 hh at the withers. They have large heads and a top line that is wide. Their mane and tail are thick and long and come in a variety of colors: bay, brown, chestnut, roan or cremello. Many have a dorsal stripe down their backs, some have white markings on their face and legs. Their hooves are strong. They are known for their reliability and durability. Tokara are adaptable to their environment, easy keepers and can live in harsh conditions with little food. They have excellent endurance. Temperament is wanting to please.


They are used for riding and light draft work such as farming, packing, industrial work and war.



For More Information:

Oklahoma State University - Breeds of Livestock
NCBI - "Intestinal ciliates found in the feces of Japanese native Tokara pony, with the description of a new genus and a new species."

Horse Breeds