The Yonaguni is a rare horse breed that is native to the island of Yonaguni, Japan.

It is one of Japan’s eight native horse breeds.

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about the Yonaguni Horse.

So if you’re interested in learning more about these amazing animals, keep reading!

Yonaguni Horse Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Yonaguni horse:

Height (size) 11.2 – 11.3 hands high
Colors Most commonly chestnut
Country of Origin Japan
Common Uses n/a

Yonaguni Horse Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

The southwest islands of Japan are home to a small native pony known as the Yonaguni.

It is not entirely clear where the Yonaguni originated, however, many believe that they were either brought from the southern islands about 2,000 years ago or that they originated in Korea on the Cheju Peninsula.

In general, horses in Japan fall into two categories: larger animals from Hokkaido and smaller animals from Yonaguni.

According to popular belief, the small horses were brought to Japan from the southern islands during the Jōmon Period, or around 2,000 years ago.

However, in 1983, Professor Ken Nozawa of Kyoto University stated that the gene characteristics of the breed showed a link to the Cheju breed in Korea.

In 2003, genetic analysis using microsatellite data showed that the Yonaguni was most closely related to the Miyako and Tokara small-island breeds and less related to Mongolian horse breeds than the Dosanko and Kiso breeds from Japan’s main islands.

This breed had a significant role in Japanese rural life in the past, and every family had one or even more horses using them for farm work, transportation of timber wood, and a variety of other activities.

However, with the progress of science and the industrial revolution, as well as the introduction of modern-day equipment, the practical utility of these horses receded, and their breeding eventually came to a halt.

In 1939, various horse breeds in Japan were mixed with other kinds to increase their size and enhance their qualities as war horses. The Yonaguni breed, however, was exempt.

In 1968, there were 210 Yonaguni horses.

However, their numbers dropped to only 50 by the beginning of the 1980s.

In an effort to prevent them from going completely extinct, an independent association dedicated to the preservation of the Yonagunis was formed.

The effort luckily worked, and the Yonagunis started to slowly grow in numbers in the northern and the western regions of the island.

They are now recognized by the Japanese people as a precious cultural asset.

In 2020, there were 130 Yonaguni ponies in Japan and they are a tourist attraction.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names



Gentle and good natured

Physical Characteristics

The head is large, and the neck is short and thick.

The shoulders are usually straight, and the back is long.

Their hooves are very hard and vertically long.

They are very strong for their size.


Most commonly chestnut

Height (size)

11.2 – 11.3 hands high







Blood Type


Common Uses




Popular Traits




Country of Origin