American Woman Riding Side-Saddle on the Road at Hommoku, Motomura, Yokohama, by Utagawa Hiroshige II (Japanese, 1829–1869). This woodblock print dates from 1861. It belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, who have generously made many of their public domain images free for anyone to use.
I believe this is an example of art produced in Japan by Japanese artists turning their eye on foreigners and particularly westerners. Not much information is provided by Getty, but I think it’s from Yokohama c. 1900 and shows European trick riders doing their thing.
Here’s your thing of joy for today: the smirk on this rather saucy horse as he carries an American lady sidesaddle through nineteenth-century Japan, as viewed by artist Yoshitori Utagawa in 1860. Japanese women did not ride sidesaddle, so this is an interesting public performance of Western femininity as interpreted by a local. Also, one hell of a bonnet.
It’s from the US Library of Congress, and more information can be found here.
Another day, another form of horse racing. This is Hokkaido, Japan, where the descendants of heavy European draught horses imported for agricultural work in the nineteenth century now fight it out in Ban-ei races. They drag an iron sled over a course of deep sand a couple of hundred yards long, and climb over ramps and bumps on their way. They are flogged by their jockeys in a fashion that would definitely see them hauled up before the stewards in the UK. Every now and then, one driver stands up and hauls back with all his weight on the horse’s head – perhaps to make it plunge forward when released and throw its weight into the collar.
They start competing as two-year-olds. More from this 2006 New York Times feature:
Draft-horse racing was officially established in 1946, and racetracks became self-contained worlds where stablemen and jockeys spent most of their lives.
Mr. Sakamoto, the 53-year-old jockey, came here when he was 18 and lived for 15 years in an apartment attached to the stables. When the horses kicked the stable walls, he felt the reverberations. “Horses and human beings become one — well, maybe it’s not that simple,” he said. “But that was the goal.”
“I’ve been here all these years,” he added. “I can’t make it out there. Horses are the only thing I know.”
Pegasus as you've never seen him before
This magnificent Japanese cigarette ad comes courtesy of the excellent Copyranter, and was brought to my attention by Anne Billson.