Monday, May 10, 2010

Yabusame Horseback Archery Festival

During Golden Week, I not only went to a big kite festival, but I also went to a horseback archery festival in my town, Fujinomiya. Last year I was in Kyoto for Golden Week so I missed it. It was interesting, but I've learned that I'm a bit jaded with Japanese festivals these days, along with shrines and temples. It was a fabulous day outside though, with sun and a slight breeze. Also, a lot of ALTs came from surrounding areas making for great company. There were the usual food stalls with fried food and food on a stick. They made a big temporary runway for the horses.

One of Brian's Japanese friends was there and told me a lot about the festival, all of which I can't remember. But I do remember that she said they had been celebrating this horseback archery festival for over 800 years. She had a magazine with some of the mythological gods from history that each shrine prays to, and at Sengan Shrine the people pray to this god on the right. She is representative of Mt. Fuji and I'm not sure what else. The people used to bath in the pond at my shrine to cleanse themselves before climbing Mt. Fuji as it was at one time a spiritual experience, not just for fun or for sport. Today, some still describe climbing Fuji as a spiritual experience, and many Japanese will ask you if you climbed it as one of the first questions they ask when they meet you.

So anyway, there were a bunch of men with bows and arrows on horses and they each went down a path with two targets. The first bow they had loaded when they started, but the second they had to grab from behind them and get loaded while the horse is moving. Here's one of the guys on horseback.

Nicole, Me and Brian with Shaune lurking in the background while watching the archers. Is that a word, archers?

Here's a video of one of the competitors. Remember if you receive this by email, you'll have to go to my blog to watch the video.

Overall, it was a pretty cool festival. I need a break from festivals though...and I guess I'll be getting a very long one in 2 short months whether I want it or not!!

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