Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Ritual Archery in Japan

Below is an excerpt from a Japanese based website about the use of archery in important Japanese Shinto rituals. The full post may be read here.


 Bows and Popular Shinto Rituals

 Bows are not just associated with samurai, but are also more broadly seen as a part of Japan’s culture. Bows and arrows make appearances in Japanese myths, and as a result, many Shinto shrines feature rituals related to them.
One of the most well-known is horseback archery, Yabusame. However, stationary archery, Obisha, is also performed as a Shinto ritual in many areas throughout Japan. The Obisha festivals are held either to pray for a good harvest or to divine how crops will grow that year. In the Shinto ritual called Omato shinji held at Kifune-jinja Shrine in January in Togane, Chiba Prefecture, an archer shoots 12 arrows to divine the harvest for the year. Also, in a festival called Musayumisai, held at Samukawa-jinja Shrine on January 8 in Sagami, Kanagwa Prefecture, arrows are shot at a target marked with the word Oni (ogre) in order to tell fortunes for the year.

  Are both of these styles held as Shinto rituals? If so, I suggest revising to say: Both stationary archery, Obisha, and horseback archery, Yabusame, are held as Shinto rituals in many areas throughout Japan.
 Words relating to archery also appear in every day language. The phrase Te no uchi wo akasu (“to show one’s hand”, reveal one’s thinking, plans, or skills) comes from the positioning of the hand on the bow (te no uchi). Since one’s technique in holding the bow influences the accuracy of the shot, precise techniques were a carefully kept secret. Another common phrase, Kakegae ga nai, refers to something irreplaceable or very precious, is said to refer to Yugake, an archer’s leather glove for the right hand used to draw the bowstring. There are other words, such as Yaomote ni tatsu (to stand in the line of fire, that is, to take blame or criticism), Mato wo hazusu (to miss the mark, to be off target), and Zuboshi (to be on target, to hit the bullseye), that were derived from archery.
  The bows and arrows seen in archery training halls all over Japan have a long tradition associated with them, and the practice of archery has been a significant part of Japanese culture, contributing to everyday language, religious rituals, and even divination.

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