Horse meat is eaten raw and baked in Japan. It is considered to be a healthy food
Wild game is called “yotsu-ashi” in Japan, which literally means “animals with four legs.” Due to the influence of Buddhism, eating the flesh of “yotsu-ashi”, including horse, had been prohibited officially from the Nara period (7th century) into the Meiji period (19th to early 20th century). However, horse meat has been eaten for four hundred years in Kumamoto and Nagano prefectures due to horses also having been used there in farming as beasts of burden.
Horse meat is called “sakura (cherry blossom) niku (meat)” in Japanese, as the color of the flesh is redder than that of other meat due to its high hemoglobin levels. It has less fat and calories, and more vitamins and minerals. Horse meat is cut into bite-size pieces and is commonly grilled. The texture is crispy and the taste is light. Horse heart tastes lighter, and the vessels are chewy.
In Kumamoto, fresh horse flesh is eaten raw with soy sauce (in this form, it’s called basashi ). It has a very soft texture. The more you chew, the more the refreshing meat juice comes out. It doesn’t taste gamey at all. Imo-shochuu (a clear Japanese liquor distilled from potatoes) perfectly goes with it.