Fly to Eastern Hokkaido
~ Access Eastern Hokkaido from the Skies ~
25 amazing adventures to try at least once
in wintertime Eastern Hokkaido
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At the BanEi Sled Horse Race, giant draft horses (so big you might wonder if they really are horses!) heave weighted iron sleds in a test of their strength and speed. The race is a modern day continuation of the racing enjoyed by Hokkaido's early farmer settlers during festival seasons. This important cultural event, which keeps alive traditions of the pioneering days, has even been granted the status of Hokkaido Heritage. It is the world's only draft horse race, and it originated right here in Hokkaido. The race is held year round, but it is in winter that it is most spectacular.
Early in the morning, as an amber glow starts to creep across the sky, the draft horses start their practice. The wintertime temperature is of course below zero. It is a magical sight to see the breath billowing from the giant horses' nostrils, aglow in the amber morning light. This morning training session is so popular that a morning training tour has been set up, available to a group of just 15 people every Sunday starting in January.
And once you have seen the training, you have to stick around to see the race! In freezing conditions, the horses whinny and snort out clouds of steam as they heave along their heavy loads. You can't help but want to cheer them all on, regardless of which horse wins or loses. The wintertime BanEi Sled Horse Race is a great demonstration of the hardiness of this northern region, which can withstand such harsh winters, as well as the beauty of Hokkaido, the land where these animals are bred and raised.
Nishi 13 Jo Minami 9 Chome, Obihiro City, Hokkaido
Race times vary depending on the time of year.
Please check the website for details.
Closed days: Tuesday to Friday
About 40 min. by car from Obihiro Airport
Morning Training Tour
Charge: 2,000 yen per person, 500 yen for elementary and middle school students (free for younger children)
Schedule: Graded race days in November and December, every Sunday from January 1 to March 19, March 20
Times: 6:00 to 7:00 or 6:30 to 7:30
Check the website for details.
*Note that the dates and times are subject to change.
*The tour may be cancelled due to bad weather.
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