Introduction of a Practice of Horse-Riding in Fifth-Century Japan and its Political Significance

Author(s): Ken-ichi Sasaki

Year: 2015


A practice of horse-riding was introduced to Japan from the late fourth century and after. Since horses were not native to Japan, Korean specialists of raising and producing hoses were invited. Recently, fifth century evidence for raising horses has been excavated at various places in Japan. In the central Osaka Prefecture near where the central polity was located, horses were carefully buried at the foot of small fifth- and sixth-century circular burial mounds, and Korean ceramics were discovered at nearby settlement sites, along with pottery specially used for salt production. A situation is very different in the central highlands of Japan, 150miles northeast of Osaka, where I have participated in excavations. There, we found numerous fifth-century cairns, which is very unusual in Japan and suggests that descendants of Korean immigrants were buried. A few ceramic figurines of horses were offered, but no horse burials at the foot of burial mounds and nor Korean ceramics. It seems likely that local elites who might be descendants of Korean immigrants introduced methods of producing and raising horses quite independently from the central polity. It might be the case that the central polity in the fifth century did not fully monopolize the diplomatic rights.

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Cite this Record

Introduction of a Practice of Horse-Riding in Fifth-Century Japan and its Political Significance. Ken-ichi Sasaki. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396020)


Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;