Photos of the Week
Okay, so we were in Aomori Prefecture, and my sister and brother-in-law tell me about these way cute wild horses up in the north. We’re already in the north, there’s not much further you can get without falling off the island and swimming to Sapporo. We went up to about as far as you can go, over a mountain pass, through winding towns, and out to lovely Cape Shiriya, where the wild horses and surfers roam. And yes, the surfing is awesome, right off the cliffs like Nor Cal surfing, but the water is this crazy vivid blue.
I present for you, a clipped image of an icon map of Aomori. You can find icon maps showing little chibi depictions of points of interest everywhere, especially on postcards and other touristy items. It’s a thing. If you look on this one closely, you can see a little bitty horse up in the northernmost bit on the right. That’s Cape Shiriya. Notice the “you are here” red box and, one little guy I’m fond of, the Nuclear Gnome. Everything has a mascot. The nuclear power station’s happens to be a gnome. I don’t know why.
It’s about a three hour drive from Misawa and Misawa Air Force Base to the Cape, over a tollway, through a super long mountain tunnel, and through some of the tiniest old streets I’ve seen (but not tiny villages) and past the most ginourmous but completely graceful wind turbines. It is, to say the least, windy as all hell. But the horses!
Word to the wise: it is hard to take a picture of a horse laying down. It will invariably look deceased. Get low, get close, and frame your subject. If you are shooting animals lolling on the ground, use a high speed to catch the animal’s quick movement. Here’s an example of good ground lolling:
And here’s an example of bad lolling:
See what I mean?
Anyways… The horses are very docile and quite used to being fed. They expect it. Bring carrots, celery, and sugar cube treats and you will have a new friend following you around, or in my brother-in-law’s case, a young equine pick pocket who would not let go of his shirt.
The horses are Kandachime horses, roughly “horses standing in cold/frost,” and they are built for the tough weather on the Cape. As a breed, they have been around for about 200 years, a cross between Japanese Tonubu and French Breton horses. They look squat but are massive. They were in danger of going extinct in the 1990’s, but the Prefecture started a preservation program and the horses are thriving. The carrots help.