Tokyobling's Blog

Yabusame – Horse Archery at Meiji Shrine

Posted in Animals, Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 28, 2013

At the budo, or martial arts, tournament and exhibition at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine a few weeks ago I saw this wonderful performance of Yabusame or mounted horse archery. I have written previously about the glory of Yabusame (I am completely in love with this sport) so if you are interested in the details of the sport head over to that post from 2011. This year’s Yabusame at Meiji Shrine was slightly unusual due to the high number of very talented female archers. You could tell from the excited reactions of the audience when they were being introduced that female archers make a wildly popular sport even more popular! The biggest drawback with Yabusame is that it is a very audience unfriendly sport. For the effort involved in setting things up and the costs involved, very few people can actually see it and the most devoted audience members had already staked out their spots on the grass 5-6 hours before the event even started! The action is also very rapid – the announcer will announce that an archer has left the staging area on the left, you hear the thunder of the hooves and in a split second the horse thunders past you – a cheer from the crowd if there is a hit, once, twice, maybe three times. It is all over very quickly and if you lose you concentration you might miss the best bit. I was plonked firmly at the front end of the audience section, wedged between two other photographers so I go to see the horses right the moment before had reached full speed, but even with my fast camera I missed many passes. Still, there is no sport on Earth like Yabusame and it’s an incredible rush to be within touching distance of horse and rider thundering past!











22 Responses

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  1. ali said, on November 28, 2013 at 5:32 am

    great post!!


  2. yoshizen said, on November 28, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Cool !


  3. romainboitier said, on November 28, 2013 at 10:37 am

    This is just freaking amazing 😀


  4. Mattias said, on November 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    The first picture is practically a movie poster. Could you please make the movie as well:-)


    • tokyobling said, on November 29, 2013 at 12:52 am

      Haha… thank you Mattias! I wish I had the skills and finances to make that movie. I wonder what the title would be?


  5. pk1154 said, on November 28, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Wow! The second, third, and fourth shots are amazing! On the order of hitting a fast ball in baseball.

    I can barely ride a horse (and they know it). The skill and effort that must be involved in mastering this art is beyond my comprehensionl


    • tokyobling said, on November 29, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Thank you! (^-^) I got sharper shots of the arrow in mid flight but for this post I focused on the female riders. It was a funny watching the different personalities of the horses as watching the shooting itself. The human riders where all composed and focused on the task while the horses showed a surprising amount of emotion and will power!


  6. JessA said, on November 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Wow, these are just fantastic! Gorgeous!


  7. MikaTo said, on November 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    So beautiful pictures i am amazed! True beauty!


  8. lindseyjparsons said, on November 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Wow! Awesome!! 🙂


  9. HeySJ said, on December 4, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    The skills it takes to shoot an arrow while riding a horse is remarkable! The horses also look quite nice dudded out in the attire.


    • tokyobling said, on December 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

      They are. It is funny how the horses’ personalities really show in how they move in their attires. (^-^)


  10. yudhistira14 said, on March 16, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Steady !


  11. Mazzei Adrien said, on May 6, 2017 at 10:35 am

    This post is a mazing. So beautiful pictures.
    I would like to be able to use one for my website. I send you a email at

    I hope one day i can see Yabusame in live…


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