Tokyobling's Blog

Yabusame – Ogano Harumatsuri

Posted in Animals, Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on April 23, 2014

More photos from the Yabusame performance and ceremony in little Ogano Town deep in the mountains of Saitama prefecture. After riding past once, at full speed the horses were wonderfully restless. Looking at the relatively tiny horses I thought that they would slow but I was completely mistaken! These horses were obviously bred for war! The archers use blunted wooden arrows with just enough strenght to shatter the wooden targets rather spectacularly. The three judges at each of the three targets would raise a special pole to signal a hit and each time the crowd would cheer. It happens sometimes that an arrow strays and hits a judge, that is why no metal arrowheads are used in this ritual. There are very few sports or rituals in Japan that are as physically exciting as Yabusame!

















6 Responses

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  1. pk1154 said, on April 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Wow…just…WOW. You managed to freeze some of the arrows and catch horses with all four hooves off the ground!

    How fast was your shutter speed?


    • tokyobling said, on April 24, 2014 at 12:24 am

      Thank you! But with a fast lens and manual settings it is not so difficult at all. 1/1250 of a second I think. Almost anything above 1/125 should have gotten a similar effect. The problem is focusing, few auto focuses are fast enough and if you want to isolate the subject from the background you need a very shallow depth of focus (it would have looked even worse than it already does (thanks to the uniform light) if I had not done that. Incidentally, before the invention of cameras it was thought a galloping horse always had at least one hoof on the ground! (^-^)


  2. Junko said, on April 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I can’t think of anything else that’s more daring and powerful and speedy and kakkoii than Yabusame!


  3. Cathryn said, on April 24, 2014 at 5:03 am

    These photos are AMAZING!!!! Never seen anything like that before!


    • tokyobling said, on April 24, 2014 at 6:17 am

      Thank you Cathryn! Hurry up and go check out the next Yabusame event near you. But you’d better be early, the best places fill up hours in advance! (^-^)


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