About an hour by train from Shinjuku is the ocean-side city of Kamakura. A beautiful location that is strikingly quieter than the hustle of Tokyo, Kamakura’s annual matsuri (festival) is held at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.
There are two main attractions of this matsuri. One, the shizuka no mai dance and two, yabusame which is traditional horse-back archery and is one of the samurai martial arts.
This post is about the second event – yabusame.
Gallery – article continued below.
This time of year there are two yabusame competitions near Tokyo, one in Asakusa and the other here in Kamakura.
While galloping through a riding ground approximately 200 meters long, the archer shoots an arrow at its target.
If you want to have a reserved seat, you must do so in advance as they sell out before the event. But, it is still possible to have good viewing from the public areas – but get there early. Try to find a seat with a good view of the targets with the understanding that the riders move from the red banner to the white banner.
The event starts with an opening ceremony and parade where the horses are presented along with the archers.
One of the best sounds is when the archer hits a target followed by applause from the audience. The riders have several rounds including a final.
There are not that many participants as you can imagine owning a horse and training with it is not so feasible. Hopefully there will be continued interest and the younger generation will take up the practice.