Yabusame horseback archery

Witness the incredible martial art of horseback archery as the spirit of the samurai lives on.

Yabusame is the ancient Japanese martial art of horseback archery. Originally established in 12th century Japan during the Kamakura period, yabusame is a dramatic art originally developed as a way to entertain the Shinto gods and thus secure their blessings and prosperity, as well as military training exercise. Punishments for those who performed badly could be severe extending as far as ritual suicide or seppuku.

Yabusame is performed on a 255 metre track. The archer gallops down the track controlling the horse with just his knees, as he holds the bow in one hand and takes an arrow with his other in preparation to fire at the target. Three targets are placed at intervals along the track and as the archer raises his bow he lets out a shriek of "in-yo-in-yo" - darkness and light. To strike all three targets is considered a great achievement and the finest archer is always rewarded with a white flag, a symbol of the gods' favour.

When to go: The Kamakura festival is held each year on 16th September. Please ask for details of other yabusame events being held across Japan.

Yabusame horseback archery

located in Kamakura

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