Sunday, September 12, 2004


There’s a movie being made in the city where I live now. This weekend, several hundred people came from different parts of Japan to be extras, and I was one of them.

The story is about Japan’s worst and most famous racehorse, Haruurara. Ever since her debut in November 1998, she has not won a single race (she did finish second 4 times, though). Despite her age (8 y.o. --- pretty old for a racehorse) and all her winless streak, her owner kept giving her a chance.

This is what she looked like today in her famous “Hello Kitty" mask.

Sorry, cell-phone pictures again! I didn't bring my digital camera.

First the local media, and then the whole country gradually became interested in her, because she kept losing too much. Many people started feeling encouraged by this surprisingly small mare running at her full gallop no matter how many times (106 times now) she lost. They saw “never-give-up” or “give-it-everything” spirit in her, and finally her betting ticket turned into a lucky charm. (Usually the tickets do not show her name printed, so the racecourse staff prepared self-service red stamps with her name and a heart mark so that visitors can put her name on the tickets.) Why were the tickets associated with luck? Well, those tickets do not win you any money, and the Japanese word to describe such a situation is “Ataranai.” This “Ataranai” has another meaning: not being hit by something. So her tickets can protect you from “being hit by a car.” See the connection? Also, with the economy being so bad, those who were worried about losing their jobs wanted to be lucky like her, because she never got fired despite her poor achievement.

Now she is, in a sense, the most popular racehorse in Japan. She receives letters and carrots sent from her fans all over Japan. You can find Haruurara T-shirts, mugs, key chains, good luck charms, cell-phone straps, towels, plushies, etc. Last March, the local racecourse asked Japan’s No.1 jockey to ride her , and people rushed to this special race to see this most unusual combination. (She didn't win.) A local musician wrote a song for her. And NOW, it’s time for a movie!

Today, they filmed 2 scenes of her previous races: her debut race and the one in which the No.1 jockey rode her. We needed to practice, over and over, cheering for Haruurara enthusiastically and then showing our disappointment when she got to the goal. Almost all the time, we needed to act without actually seeing the horses. (Of course, you cannot expect them to make the horses run that many times.) I think we did pretty good. Most of us, including myself, felt kind of embarrassed in the beginning, but after some practices, the embarrassment was totally gone. With the cue from the director, we just put our feelings into what we were doing. It was FUN!

Unfortunately it rained on and off in the late afternoon. We needed to stop what we were doing a few times to wait for the rain to stop. The last scene we were supposed to film today --- the dreamlike scene of Haruurara’s first victory at her last race --- had to be cancelled because of the rain. Too bad. I was ready to freak out (acting, of course) at her victory!!

The camera shouldn’t get wet.

I assume that not all people are happy about this “Haruurara craze,” especially old horseracing fans and those who have jobs related to horseracing. Maybe her popularity is something deviant from what the horseracing is about. I see their point. And still, I want to appreciate the fact that even a weak, small and old mare was able to touch this many peoples’ hearts and save the racecourse from bankruptcy.

Participation certificate and lucky charm

given to all the extras today

In their
official website(in Japanese), they say that the story is going to focus on the dilemma of this horse and those who support her. That sounds good. I can’t wait to see the movie!

NOTE: I mentioned about the scene of her first victory, and the scene is going to be filmed for sure. But the scene might be used as someone's dream or imagination in the movie, you know. So I still don't know if, at the end of the movie, Haruurara is actually going to win or not.
posted by obachan, 9/12/2004 11:49:00 PM


Hi Mordiscos,

This movie is going to be released in the spring of 2005 in Japan. I wonder if this one can be so popular that its DVD/VHS videos become available outside Japan...
commented by Blogger obachan, 9/15/2004 2:29 AM  

Add a comment