Applause and Cheers for Horseback Stunts"Kakeuma Shinji" at Fujinomori Jinjya Shrine, Kyoto
"Kakeuma Shinji," or a Shinto ritual in which acrobatic tricks are performed on the backs of galloping horses, took place on May 5 at Fujinomori Jinjya Shrine, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto. Each time a rider successfully carried out a dynamic trick, the watching crowd burst into cheers and applause.
Designated as a Kyoto City Intangible Folk Cultural Property, the origins of the trick riding ritual are in the prayer for victory offered by Prince Sawara in 781 prior to his departure on a war campaign in Mutsu Province. Since the Meiji Period, it has been held every May as a part of the Fujimori Festival.
The riders of the ritual's preservation group attempted stunts as their horses galloped along the roughly-180-meter shrine approach. Excited clamors arose when the riders executed successful tricks, including "Tazuna Kuguri," in which a rider bends himself towards the side of the horse as if he were evading enemy arrows, and "Ichi-ji Gaki," in which a rider on horseback writes a character on a wooden plate in order to send information to allies in the rearguard position.
Trick rider Hitohisa Saito, who is a company employee, wrote the Chinese character of "horse" horizontally-reversed. He showed the wooden plate to the audience, saying, "At least I wrote the lower part of the 'horse' character successfully," while wiping away the sweat from his smiling face.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)