In Japan, many peculiar native chicken breeds are maintained, among of which 17 breeds are assigned as natural monuments of Japan. This homepage introduces nine typical breeds and traces the history of their formation. Almost all of them originated from exotic breeds that were imported from ancient China and South-East Asia several hundreds or thousands of years ago. Since then, these breeds have been genetically improved for various purposes, such as companion animals, time keepers, fighting games, and meat production.
All the photographs on this page were provided by Prof. Masaoki Tsudzuki (Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University).
Tosa-no-Onagadori (Japanese long tail fowl)
These fowls have the longest tail feathers among all breeds of chicken. The tail feathers of males continue to grow without molting, and the length is sometimes more than 10 m. Most Tosa-no-Onagadori fowls are raised in Kochi Prefecture. Average body weight (BW): 1,800 g for males and 1,400 g for females.
These fowls were originally one of the breeds used for cockfighting and were also used to establish other Japanese native breeds. At present, they are no longer raised for cockfighting but for their beautiful appearance. Many Shokoku fowls are kept in Mie and Kyoto Prefectures. BW: 2,000 g for males and 1,600 g for females.
This breed is thought to be based on a crossbred stock between Shokoku and Oh-Shamo. Many of them are kept in Aichi and Shizuoka Prefectures. BW: 2,500 g for males and 1,800 g for females.
This breed may have originated from the crossbreeding of Shokoku and China-derived “Dai-Tomaru.” They are characterized by their long crowing duration. Many of them are kept in Niigata Prefecture. BW: 3,800 g for males and 2,800 g for females.
These fowls are one of the breeds that have the longest crowing time, and are kept mainly in Aomori, Akita, and Iwate Prefectures. The external appearance of this breed is somewhat similar to that of Oh-Shamo. BW: 4,500 g for males and 3,800 g for females.
This breed was originally included among the cockfighting fowls. At present, however, they are not used for cockfighting but for their beautiful plumage. Many of them are kept in Kagoshima and Miyazaki Prefectures. This breed is also thought to be based on crossbred stocks between Shokoku and Oh-Shamo, as well as Minohiki. BW: 3,800 g for males and 2,800 g for females.
Oh-Shamo (Japanese large game)
Original birds of this breed were introduced from Thailand during the Edo Period. They were used for cockfighting. Moreover, the breed has been used to establish new meat-type commercial chickens because they have good meat quality. BW: 5,600 g for males and 4,900 g for females.
These fowls are characterized by dense black feathers over the body and blackish red skin on the comb, face, and wattle. Many of them are kept in Yamaguchi and Shimane Prefectures. BW: 2,800 g for males and 1,800 g for females.
These fowls are characterized by upright tail feathers and short legs. BW: 700 g for males and 600 g for females.