Yesterday was a national holiday - Culture Day and so we decided to have a very cultured day out! We went down to Meiji-jingu in Tokyo for an event where they show traditional martial arts. When we got there, there was an Aikido demo on so Ebi-kun and I watched that for a while whilst Daddy-ebi went to check out the rest if the place. Daddy-ebi and I started Aikido but had to quit after a couple of months because I found out I was pregnant, the club we went to is too far to get to from here and we haven't found another one closer, anyway....
After watching people hit each other with big sticks and swords we headed over to where they were holding the yabusame, which is the event we had gone to watch. There were mats laid out for sitting on and we watched the practice, we decided that because we had a good spot one of us should save the spot, so daddy stayed whilst Ebi-kun and I went to hunt down some food from the agricultural fair.
|one of the practice runs|
Yabusame is horseback archery, the rider has to try and hit three targets whilst the horse is galloping down the track which is 225m long. It was started by Minamoto no Yoritomo in an attempt to improve his samurai's archery skills.
The event started with a procession and blessing by the Shinto priest (it is held at the big Shinto shrine). Everyone was dressed in the traditional attire down to the beautiful silk gowns and deer skin chaps.
We were sat right by the third target and so had a great view. I am an accomplished horsewoman so I can truly appreciate how difficult this must be, the amount of control and concentration needed must be immense, I would love to have a go though.
The archers use a special type of arrow which has a turnip shaped end rather than a point. The first couple of rounds they were aiming to hit the paper target.
There were three women sat close to the target, one had the job of shaking the spiritual stick after each time an arrow was fired. One checked the target was set straight after each rider went past and the third was this foreign girl, she was picking up the arrows then held them so the riders could collect them after each round. The weird thing was that she is an absolute double for my cousin, who lived over here for 2 years, when I put this picture up on FB, Kirsty was trying to remember when it had been taken before realising it wasn't her!
Ebi-kun was completely smitten with the yabusame, he kept saying how beautiful the horses were and how he wants to try to do it too (he has been on a pony twice and so thinks he can ride!)
These two riders were the best, their horses were going hell for leather and they did hit the targets. The guy below I think was the top rider and his horse was loving it, there were seven riders and when they had all completed the run they walked back down to the start line and you could just see that this horse was really enjoying himself.
The second round they changed the targets to these ceramic dishes, when they were hit they smashed and confetti came out, they were small, maybe 6" in diameter which just shows how skilled the riders are. I think there was just one rider who hit all three targets in one run.
We didn't see who won though because after the last run both Ebi-kun and I had to run to find the toilet! The event was all free and great fun, I am sure we will go again, next time we will take lunch with us though.