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Horse Racing

Imperial family boasts enduring bond with horse racing

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The attendance of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at Tokyo Racecourse to witness the Tenno Sho (Autumn) horse race on Oct. 29 last year highlighted the enduring links between the imperial family and horse racing in Japan.

The visit marked the emperor’s first visit to the semiannual Grade 1 race since his enthronement in 2019, while the empress was watching her first horse race.

According to the Japan Racing Association (JRA), the earliest documented instance of Japanese horse racing can be traced back to a description in “Shoku Nihongi,” an imperial-commissioned historical text. It notes that in 701, a running horse participated in a competition in the presence of Emperor Monmu.

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