Showing posts from April, 2009

Yabusame - Japanese Mounted Archery Video

Yabusame is a Japanese Shinto ritual involving mounted archery. Archers ride at a full gallop and shoot at three targets set up at certain intervals. To hit all three, an archer is considered to be very skillful. The ritual's purpose is to bring prosperity and peace.

This video is a complilation of Yabusame events I have been to over the last two years. There are two different schools of Yabusame - Ogasawara Ryu who perform at Asakusa (here 2007&2008) and Takeda Ryu who perform at Meiji Shrine (2006), Miura (2007), and Kamakura (Spring 2007 & Fall 2008)

The song is called "Gunslinger Man" and it fits with the old tradition of samurai on horseback using bows rather than spears and swords as they did in later times. The Yabusame costume looks rather cowboy-ish.

The music is by the Exotic Ones:
The Exotic Ones

This is a short clip of Yabusame being performed at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

Yabusame - Japanese Archery on Horseback

A yabusame archer wearing formal hunting clothes from the 13th centuryIt has often been said: The sword is the soul of the samurai. Much has been written in Japan and around the world about the Japanese samurai sword and its nigh-mystical aspects.The sword was an indispensable weapon of the samurai warrior, even when guns began to steadily come into use during the 16th century. A sword was a mark of samurais status and honor. They were heirlooms to be passed down generation after generation. Swords of exceptional make were often given as gifts of great honor.

Yabusame depicted on a folding screenAnd yet in the early history of the samurai, it was the bow, not the sword, that was praised. Early samurai warriors referred to their profession as the Way of the Horse and Bow.Stories about a heros prowess with the bow abound in the folklore and military legends of this time period. Enemies both mortal and monstrous were often di…

Geisha Dancing - Kamogawa Odori

The Kamogawa Odori Geisha Dance
The spring dances of Kyoto offer a rare glimpse of Geisha performances
A young Maiko (Geisha Apprentice) performing in the Kamogawa OdoriTrue geisha dance performances are rare events that one can only witness if they are part of the affluent clientele of Kyoto’s elusive Geisha tea houses or if they are fortunate enough to procure a seat at one of the annual public performances given in Spring and Fall.Spring dances are traditional events held every year to celebrate the ending of winter. Most of the year, the general public only has the chance to occasionally spy geisha as they scurry along the streets of Gion and Pontocho to their assignments. These spring dances represent a chance for the public to see the geisha in all their glory performing ancient traditional dances.
Before the performance guests may observe a tea ceremonyThe Kamogawa Odori is a geisha dance performance presented in the late spring in the Pontocho district of Kyoto. Pontocho is one o…
On Seijin-no-Hi (Coming of Age Day) in early January in Japan, an archery ritual known as Momote Shiki is held at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo for all those turning 20 for that year.

10 Archers at a time shoot two arrows at a central target.

At Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, a Shinto Priest fires a whistling arrow signfying the start of an archery ritual to commemorate Coming of Age Day.

Japanese Archery Ritual - Momote Shiki

Momote Shiki: Japanese Archery Ritual 
Centuries-old ritual held for the fortune of new adults
Archers in old style kimono preparing to shoot n the archery ritual known as Momote ShikiSeijin-no-Hi or Coming of Age Day is celebrated all throughout Japan on the second Monday of January. Throughout the country, similar ceremonies and activities take place among those newly turned 20 such as the wearing of special kimono, going to shrines, attending speeches, and so on. At Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, a unique ceremony takes place that is often overlooked in favor of seeing the kimono-clad girls that populate the shrine on that day.Behind the main shrine complex an archery ritual known as Momote Shiki is performed for the good fortune of all those turning 20 and becoming new adults. Archers wearing a style of formal kimono that samurai once wore in olden times shoot two arrows a piece at a central target.
Archers arriving at Meiji Shrine in TokyoThe Momote Shiki ceremony is conducted by the Ogasaw…

Modern Deadly Arts of the Samurai - JPOP

The samurai were Japan’s elite warrior class of long ago - masters of many deadly weapons and stern possessors of martial fighting skills.In Tokyo’s modern mecca of electronics and anime, Akihabara, the samurai have re-emerged as masters of a new deadly art.

Running From the Bulls of Pamplona

Running From the Bulls of PamplonaThere comes a time in the life of every young man when he feels the need to test his meddle and tempt the hands of Fate. This may take the form of signing up with the French Foreign Legion and fighting in far away places, hunting large animals with large guns, jumping out of airplanes, or pitting his wits against the speeding enraged bulls of Pamplona.Personally, I blame that macho-istic bastard Hemingway for my foolhardy decision to run with the bulls of Pamplona several years ago. Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel, “The Sun Also Rises”, brought world-wide attention to Pamplona’s bizarre age-old festival of allowing bulls to run through the streets as they please running over and goring those mad enough to run with them. Hemingway created an international pilgrimage of machismo to Pamplona’s San Fermin festival. For some of those pilgrims, that journey has led to a gory martyrdom.But gory martyrdom is what the San Fermin festival is all about. Saint F…