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NZ gift to Shinto shrine in Tokyo

NZ gift to Shinto shrine in Tokyo

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today in Tokyo that New Zealand is gifting a replacement horse to Toshogu Shrine, one of the most important shrines in Japan.

The replacement horse, named Kotuku – meaning rare and sacred visitor – will be shipped to Japan later this year.

At a ceremony at the New Zealand embassy in Tokyo today, Helen Clark presented a framed photograph of the horse to the Chief Priest of Toshogu Shrine.

Helen Clark, who is on a four-day visit to Japan, said that a New Zealand white horse had been a feature of the Toshogu Shrine since 1964.

“It provides a strong symbol of the close ties of friendship that exist between New Zealand and Japan.

“The original New Zealand white horse was gifted to the Japan Equestrian Association, and later transferred to the Toshogu Shrine, after the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Two further white horses were gifted in 1976 (Marutai) and 1981(Koha).

“Koha remains at the shrine today, but is now a very old horse,” Helen Clark said.

The Toshogu Shrine is one of the most famous buildings and tourist attractions in Japan. It was built by the Tokugawa Shoguns, who ruled Japan from the 1600s to the mid 19th century, and is a World Heritage Site.

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