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Thoroughbred Breeding in Japan

Thoroughbreds are bred and raised in many parts of Japan, from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. Hokkaido has the major breeding areas of the Hidaka district, on the southwestern slopes of the Hidaka mountain range in the central southern part of the island and the Iburi district to the west. Thoroughbreds in Tohoku, are bred from the Pacific coast of Aomori Prefecture to Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, and Fukushima Prefecture. Ibaraki Prefecture and Chiba Prefecture are the major breeding areas in the Kanto region. Breeding takes place in certain parts of Kumamoto Prefecture, Miyazaki Prefecture and Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu.

These areas have produced horses for many years, though in the past they also bred and raised working horses for agriculture.

When the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association was established over one half of a century ago, Tohoku and Kyushu were the key breeding areas. However, as thoroughbred breeding became more important, the focus of the industry shifted to Hidaka in Hokkaido. The cool, dry climate and vast areas of land of this area, made it perfect for the raising of horses.

Nowadays, breeding is concentrated in Hokkaido, with around 95% of horses being produced there. As breeding has shifted to Hokkaido, the Kanto and Kyushu regions have taken advantage of their warm climates to become centers for the training of young horses during the winter.

On the other hand, since the breeding industry recognized the importance of initial training and made its improvement a key challenge, efforts to improve riding grounds and other training facilities in breeding areas have increased sharply. Training in breeding areas has also expanded as these districts seek to take advantage of people who have completed exercise rider and stud personnel training programs run by JBBA and other organizations.

These developments have ensured that auctions are no longer reserved only for yearlings and foals. Training sales for 2-year-olds are becoming more popular each year in regions like Hokkaido, Kanto, and Kyushu.