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Ikuru Kuwajima December 16, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Japan.

Draft horse racing, Hokkaido, Japan 2007

Ikuru Kuwajima (b.1984, Japan) studied journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia from 2003 to 2007 and interned at a several newspapers. In 2007, he moved to Bucharest, Romania to work as a freelance photojournalist. He worked as a contributor with a news agency Media Fax, ZUMA Press and Grazia Neri. His coverage included Kosovo’s independence. He also published a story about the Danube Delta’s fishermen in the National Geographic Romania and Japan. In 2008, he moved to Ukraine to work on long-term projects. He is currently based in the Central Ukraine. Kuwajima is a native Japanese speaker and English-Japanese translator and is proficient in Russian and Romanian. He also contributed as a researcher for an upcoming book about Tokyo’s underground culture.

About the Photograph:

“The picture came was made in Obihiro, Hokkaido in Japan in 2007. Draft horse racing, called Banei Keiba in Japanese, only exists on this northern island of Japan. Draft horses are twice as big as thoroughbreds and drag 1,100-pound sleighs along a 218-yard dirt course. This unique form of racing started about a hundred years ago while the horses were used primarily for farming, but over the years the draft horses have been developed exclusively for racing. When I worked on the project draft-horse racing was almost closed, but large opposition from dedicated fans saved it. It continues in Obihiro and still takes place three times a week.”

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