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Thursday, 8th January 2009
In Japan Sports News,

Archery 'thriving' in Japan

The ancient sport of equestrian archery is alive and well in Japan, it has emerged.

Each year, archers in traditional combative attire, as well as thousands of spectators, converge on the town Zushi, just south of Tokyo, to take part in the feudal competition.

The first horseback archery contest took place in the town in 1199, reports the Associated Press.

Ietaka Kaneko, head of the Japan Equestrian Archery Association and the Takeda School of Horseback Archery, commented: "There is nothing like this outside Japan."

The competitions are known as yabusame and are comparable, culturally, to American rodeos.

The Japan Equestrian Archery Association itself was formed in 1939 and is permitted by the Japanese government to maintain and promote the sport.

Upcoming events include the Yabusame ritual at the Odawara Plum Festival in Odawara City, Kanagawa on February 11th.

A similar ceremony will take place at the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine in Kamakura City on April 9th.