Today Hiruzen is a popular tourist destination. However, based on archeological excavations, the history of horses in Hiruzen date back as far as the Kofun period (300-538 AD). Recorded history of horses starts around the Edo period (1603-1867) when horses were part of everyday life. During the Meiji era (1868-1912) Hiruzen was home to hundreds of war horses. Under the “War Horse Replenishment Unit Ordinance” issued in 1900, the “Daisen Branch Asashi River Office” training facility for war horses stretching 28km was set up, with between 300 to 400 horses on site at any point in time. After the war, at the start of the Showa Era (1926-1989) Hiruzen even had it’s own horse racing track, and in 1955 Hiruzen was the filming location of the horse riding scenes in the film “The Yoshino Thieves”, starring Japan’s first singing movie star, Koukichi Takada.
Currently Old Friends Japan is collaborating with Mr. Shigeo Maebara at the Hiruzen Local History Museum in uncovering further historically significant remnants of horses in Hiruzen.
A century later, in 2005, as part of the National Sports Festival of Japan held in Okayama, Hiruzen hosted the equestrian tournament. For the occasion Maniwa City built a stable that could house up to 300 horses, an outdoor equestrian stadium, outdoor and indoor training grounds, walking machines, etc. The facility became the Hiruzen Horse Park, with director Mr. Kiichi Harada as it’s first manager, and today is the training grounds for all things equestrian. The facility often holds national competitions and also attracts thousands of outside visitors every year, with guests horseback riding and petting and feeding the animals.
For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Hiruzen was set to be the host town to the German Equestrian Olympic team before and during the games.