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Bull's-eye

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An exhibition of yabusame -- traditional Japanese archery performed on horseback -- at Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture.

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Older Horse.

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Great location for yabusame. Nikko in mid-May and mid-October is some sweet action too.

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Awesome photo! perfect timing.

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Although I must say they ride very close to the target. Is that the kind of distance they shot from back in the feudal days? Any veterans here care to recall how it was in those days?

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So cool! I would have loved to see this in person.

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sugoi~!

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I actually like this pic with the horse!

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Great skill required. And traditional too. Send him off to deal with NK

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That target looks really close. It also seems like the three people before him missed this close target...actually, didn't even reach this close target.

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Just love to see boys going wild on horses and shooting arrows. I wished they had more of these events nationwide.

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COOL!!!

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Recently, I went to the yabusame that was part of Nara's Heijo-kyo festivities and people there were calling it not yabusame but "umayumi". My general understanding is that basically these mean the same thing -- riders on horseback shooting a bow & arrow at three targets -- except that umayumi refers to yabusame done on special occasions. Can anyone elaborate on this or clarify/correct this? Is umayumi a type of yabusame, then, just done by the nobility? Or is it perhaps a Nara-related or even ancient term no longer in wide use? Thanks.

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Yabusame is really exciting to watch up close. It's not so much the distance to the target (which differs somewhat from location to location) but the speed at which the rider takes the course that makes it thrilling.

As for terminology, "umayumi", along with several other terms and variations, is in the written record as far back as the Nara period, but "yabusame" came into common use in the Heian period and later, with the formalization of several different styles and types of horseback archery. There are a variety of schools today, but as in ancient times, yabusame is still enjoyed both as a sport/hobby and as a formal Shinto-based ritual.

Interestingly, the current head of one of the major historical yabusame schools, the Ogasawara school, has a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from Tsukuba University, and now works for a pharmaceutical company. Apparently the Ogasawara school has a long-established tradition that its head should not try to make a living from yabusame, but have some other 'main' career.

I've seen him run several times--he's a great rider for someone his age (only 29).

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Thanks sk4ek. That was pretty interesting.

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Yes, thanks, sk4ek for sharing such detailed information. Yabusame/umayumi must be thrilling to see. You don't get many opportunities to see folks on horseback much in Japan. And I certainly envy you, escape artist, for being able to visit Nara during this year of Heij0-kyo's 1300th anniversary! The celebrations and historical re-enactments must be winding down these final weeks of 2010.

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Great shot!

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