“Look, ‘takeuma’!” a little boy gleefully said as he ran toward a tree. I looked in the direction he was headed thinking I’d see a bamboo horse. To my disappointment, I did not see anything resembling such an animal.
The boy picked up what looked to be stilts made of two poles and mounted them. He grew about 20 centimeters and looked proud of himself. It was then that I whipped out my smartphone to look up the word takeuma. “Yup, stilts,” I said under my breath. What a curious name! I tried finding the etymology but got nowhere--some theories point to Chinese; others to Shinto; and some simply to how the stilts were sometimes decorated or how they look. Oh, well.