Tokyobling's Blog

Yabusame – Horse Archery in Asakusa

Posted in Animals, Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on May 8, 2015

The last of my posts of photos from the annual Yabusame event in Tokyo’s Taito Ward’s Asakusa. After the more minor archery event on foot a bit further up the riverside the main event of Yabusame starts. The modern form of the sport was established in the 16th century after it was feared that the tradition and skill of the mounted archer would disappear after the introduction of western firearms and subsequently rifles and artillery. One of the samurai clans, the Ogasawara, were tasked with keeping the tradition alive and under their care it formalized into the ritual/sport we have today.

The tradition of mounted archery is of course rooted in the hunting of prey for food but it was also an effective form of early warfare when scores of mounted archers could harass and even break up units of enemy foot soldiers. We can only guess at the level of skill among the samurai who did this for a living, day in an day out, it must have been astounding! Modern archers are quite impressive still, and it is quite thrilling to watch it live up close! For these photos the widest lens I used was a 17-35mm wide zoom, which gives you an idea of how close you can get in these shows.











11 Responses

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  1. Mustang.Koji said, on May 8, 2015 at 8:29 am

    First of all, fantastic action shots! Secondly, I watched a documentary on the Yumi making… The craftsman is very particular of the bamboo he selects/cuts…then its a long scraping, bending, binding struggle to make the perfect bow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tokyobling said, on May 19, 2015 at 2:59 am

      I can’t even imagine building a bow! The work and skilled involved…! Thank you for the kind comment! (^-^)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mustang.Koji said, on May 19, 2015 at 6:42 pm

        It was truly a craft handed down through the generations. I think I saw it on Netflix?


  2. pk1154 said, on May 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Wow! How amazing that you managed to catch one horse with all four feet off the ground!


  3. valentina smoothie said, on May 8, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    wow amazing shots .. this is so interesting.. great post!


  4. Junko said, on May 8, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    I’m just amazed that they can use that long stuff atop a running horse and even hit a target. I say if you don that outfit and do Yabusame, you automatically become the most kakkoii guy no matter what.


  5. rudyhou said, on May 21, 2015 at 9:35 am

    i am at awe at how festive looking the traditional uniforms worn by these archers, almost royal-like. i assume this is just for show and not the typical ones to be worn by archers in the old era?


    • tokyobling said, on May 22, 2015 at 3:41 am

      I think they had much simpler costumes in the old days, but with modern day manufacturing everyone can dress like the emperors of old!


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