Okinawa Tourism Information:RyukyuHorseRace「Umaharashi」Held

Ryukyu Horse Race 「Umaharashi」 Held

post : 2015.03.18 21:00

The 7th Ryukyu Horse Race called Umaharashi
was held on October 19th in Okinawa Kodomo no Kuni.

Umaharashi is not a normal horse race for competing in speed
but competing for the beauty of styles and manners in trotting.
It is said that this race used to be an entertainment for Samurai during
Ryukyu Dynasty period, and later spread out also among farmers who held
this race in harvest festivals.  


Unfortunately, this culture had been faded out after the 2nd world war,
however, Okinawa Kodomo no Kuni (children's world) researched of
this horse race in cooperation with farms in Okinawa
and people who still remember of the race, and revived the race after 70 years.
The race called Umaharashi was revived and held in Kodomo no kuni in 2012,
and this was the 7th race since revived.

During Ryukyu Dynasty period,
only the horses under 120cm in hight were qualified for the race.
Currently, Yonaguni horses that are registered as Natural Monument,
Saisyu horses that are origined of Saisyu Island in Korea,
and also ponies are joining the race.

The number of horses are gradually increasing and 25 horses
and jockeys joined this time!

The rule of competition is quite simple. 2 horses trot 100m at the same time.
The speed of trotting and its style of beauty are competed in Umaharashi.
When they trot, all 4 legs should not be off the ground and if they failed
they would be disqualified. They have to keep a good trotting style from the startto the goal.
The Jockeys have to have a good technique to control their horses.

I shall introduce some characteristics of Umaharashi.
Firstly, the sign of starting.
There is no "Ready Set Go". The competing 2 horses are just trotting
around a course and their jockeys contact eye to eye and decide a timing for staring 
the race.

The picture shows a horse named Nanami that has been kept in Okinawa
Kodomo no Kuni and the jockey was the keeper of Nanami,
Mr. Yamamoto dressed in the traditional costume.
To make a good start, Jockeys have to work well together
with their horses on the same rhythm.
When they succeeded in making a good start,
the horse and jockey both would look cheerful and the horse would start trotting.

Secondly, in the original Umaharashi, right front leg with right back leg,
and left front leg with left back leg 
had to step on the ground at the same time, however,
Nowadays, only a few horses are able to learn this step
and Nanami(horse) kept in Okinawa Kodomo no Kuni was the only horse
that could make this step in this race.

When you see the picture closely, you can see that Nanami's right front leg
and right back leg are off the ground !
Nanami's style was so rhythmical and beautiful.

Thirdly, the horses and jockeys are dressed very nice.
In old days, Jockeys were dressed in traditional costumes of each region.
In this race, the staff of Okinawa Kodomo no Kuni dressed in textile
named Chibana Hana Ori which was registered
as a Traditional Handcraft of Japan in July, 2012.  

There was a jockey who came from Mongol and the race is becoming
an international event.
You can see a good looking Mongolian jockey on the right in the picture.
Many people were cheering him♪

Now the announcement of the winner horse and jockey ♪

The winner was Yonaguni horse named Yuna and the jockey
Ms. Kanon Ohkawa from Umikaze Farm ! Kanon was only an elementary
school student (6th grade)!!

She controlled the horse to run nicely and steady, and won all the races.
「I am really happy to be the winner」commented Kanon.

「I would like to revive the original Umaharashi in the period
of Ryukyu Dynasty and enjoy with many more people」
said Mr. Higa of the Director of Okinawa Kodomo no Kuni.

The next race is scheduled on March 1, 2015.
You would be able to feel the atmosphere of the period of Ryukyu Dynasty.
Please try to come and watch the race next time.

Okinawa Kodomo no Kuni
Address/5-7-1, Goya, Okinawa city
TEL/ 098-933-4190
Admission/ Adults 500yen Junior & High school 200yen 
+4 year& Elementary school 100yen

The 8th Umaharashi Race is scheduled on March 1. 13:30 ~

Okinawa CLIP Photo writer by Akari Matsumura