竹馬(たけうま)【Takeuma (Stilts)】

It is traditional that boys play with takeuma. The takeuma are a pair of bamboo poles with footrests attached perpendicularly to each pole. First children practice walking on the stilts while keeping their balance. When they are able to do this well they can then advance to the next stage which consists of doing acrobatic performances, racing, and wrestling with friends.

竹馬は、2本の竹のそれぞれに木の足台を付けた男の子用の遊び道具です。これに乗って歩くのが初歩的な遊びですが、バランスを取るのが難しく、練習を必要とします。上達すれば、曲芸をして遊ぶこともできます。また、何人かで競走したり格闘したりすることもできます。

It is not that difficult to make stilts by hand. Children used to make stilts by themselves with crosspieces fixed at the bamboo joints. Lately, however, wooden and plastic mass-produced stilts have appeared and replaced the hand-made ones.

竹馬を作ることは、それほど難しいことではありません。かつては竹の節のところに横木を付けて竹馬を手作りしたものですが、最近は木製やプラスチック製の既製品が多く出回るようになり、こちらが主流となっています。

The Japanese characters which are read as takeuma can also be read as chikuba. The reading of chikuba is used in the expression chikuba-no-tomo, which refers to having played with a friend with stilts as a child. Therefore, chikuba-no-tomo means a childhood friend.

竹馬は「ちくば」とも読み、「竹馬(ちくば)の友」とは幼年時代に竹馬に乗って一緒に遊んだ友のことで、幼なじみの友達を意味します。

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