Japan from the inside out


Posted by ampontan on Sunday, August 19, 2012

THE middle-aged star of the regional horse racing circuit in Japan, Monakukabakichi, a 13-year-old male running out of the Fukuyama Municipal Track in Hiroshima, has hung up the silks and called it a career. He retired — or rather, his trainer retired him — after 55 wins. That’s a national record.

The track announcers should have gotten hazardous duty pay for having to say that name quickly when calling races over the past decade.

As with many aging athletes, the big guy could no longer overcome his physical problems. He finished sixth in his first race after setting the record last month, and the trainer decided that was that. His owner thinks it might have been due to all the fatigue that emerged after his prodigious win total. And to put it in perspective, he’s 50 years old in human terms. He must have been quite the magnificent specimen of horseflesh.

You’d think they’d want to create as many opportunities as possible to pass those genes into the future, but reports say the owner is thinking of sending him to a riding club for the rest of his days.

What? After years of record-breaking service, he’s being deprived of the chance to live on a stud farm?

Retired baseball and football players in the United States have special associations to look after their interests, but if no one takes up for Monakukabakichi, he’ll be nothing but an upscale beast of burden. Is that any way to treat a star?

Peter Singer would call that speciesism.

Here’s another red horse: the Red Horse Band. Be patient through the first minute and a half as they chat with the audience (or advance the video cursor). They’ve got a unique thing going. The percussionist also plays shakuhachi.

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