Brief Overview of Japanese Art of Archery


Traditional Art of Archery using Japanese Bow and Arrow
"Kyudo" is a Japanese martial art in which the mind and body are trained through a series of conduct in shooting a Japanese bow and arrow at a target. It developed long ago as Kyujutsu (the art of Japanese archery) for tactics and military art, and today it's also considered a sport or a healthful exercise. Meanwhile, some schools from ancient times still exist and are preserving the traditional school while coexisting with modern Kyudo.

Difference with the Western Art of Archery
Japanese Kyudo developed independently and has its own technique, culture, and history, and is totally different from modern sports like archery, based upon Tankyu (short bow) from Europe. Historically known as; Kyujutsu, Shajutsu, or Shagei, but at present, traditional Yumiire/Kyusha (弓射) culture in Japan is called 'Kyudo (Japanese art of archery)' and the term 'Kyujutsu' is often used to distinguish the old martial art before it changed to 'Kyudo.' However, some schools are still in existence which use the term 'Kyujutsu' to maintain a strict Tradition and others use the term 'Kyudo' even though they maintain a Traditional School, so, the borderline between 'Kyudo' and 'Kyujutsu' is not necessarily clear nor classified clearly from the aspect of concept and technique.

kyudo in old photo

Uniquely Developed in the Long History of Japan
It's not sure when Japanese Kyudo was systematized as a "technique" not only because of the lack of clear records, but also partly because the use of the bow and arrow began in prehistoric times. It is possible that in the Yayoi Period a technique existed for shooting a bow and arrow which was the original present day Wakyu (Japanese long bow with long upper half and short lower half - mentioned below) used in battle, but the details are not known. At the end of the Asuka Period, since the establishment of "Taisha-rokuho" by Emperor Monmu, Reisha and rules of decorum for Yumiire began to be gradually organized and the technique was also systematized and established as "Kyudo" at the same time, based on the simple technique of shooting. On the other hand, not only was a bow used as a weapon for hunting and for battle, but also Yumiya/Kyushi (bow and arrow) were believed to have spiritual power, so that in Nara Period dedications of Yumiya and Yumiire shrine rituals were performed, which became the origin of present festivals and shrine rituals in various places.

A Way to discipline the Mind and Body of Samurai
In the Heian Period some schools of Kyudo were founded and each school had their own technique, lesson style, and mannerisms. In the battlefields, festival events and Kojitsu (ancient practices of customs) or annual events at the Imperial Court, each school of Kyudo had flourished and developed. Around the middle of the Sengoku Period, the introduction of firearms retired bows and arrows from actual fighting in battlefields, but Kyudo kept the same status as a martial art even after departing the actual fighting, and remained popular as a martial art for Samurai and a way to discipline the mind and body in the peaceful Edo Period. Over time, its technique and equipment had been improved and each school developed individually at the same time.

kyudo with woman player

Kyudo was completed in the Edo Period
As some schools had lesson which simulated actual battlefield conditions, their lessons were more varied than those of today's Kyudo. However, around the end of the Edo Period the basic system of technique for Kyudo among each school became similar and the Yumiire technique for using Wakyu is essentially the same with very minor differences. It's not an exaggeration to say that Kyujutsu, that led to today's Kyudo, was completed in the Edo Period both for technique and equipment.

Kyudo is Spreading Worldwide
Kyudo attracted the attention of foreigners through books such as "Zen in the Art of Archery," by Eugen Herrigel, in which the focus on spirituality was introduced, and even though it isn't an Olympic sport it's enjoyed especially in Europe and the United States with sports associations established there. On May 2, 2006, the International Kyudo Federation was founded in order to popularize and promote Kyudo.

Traditional Kyudo Ritual in a Shrine
Traditional Kyudo Ritual in a Shrine
Yabusame, Traditional Horseback Archery of Japan
Yabusame, Traditional Horseback Archery of Japan
Kyudo practice in France
Kyudo practice in France
Must See Videos
Video Contents
Documentary of Kyudo (38:35)

Comparison to the Archeries of Other Countries

kyudojo and female kyudoka

Distinctive Japanese Bow, “Wakyu”
What is the most distinct feature is the length of Wakyu (bow), which is far longer than the height of a person. The length of a normal Wakyu is 221cm long, which is said to be the longest for a bow, in the world. It is said that Wakyu was made long for durability and strength because it was made from plant material such as wood and bamboo which were less elastic, while Tankyu was made from animal material which were more elastic. In addition, another distinct feature is that the grip is on the underside of Yugara (wooden or bamboo part between Motohazu (the lower top of the bow) and Urahazu (the top of the bow)). This asymmetricity upper and lower sides produce a difference in the power of the bow, which results in the characteristic technique of Kyudo, and, Wakyu is made to take advantage of this technique.

Japanese Bow String is pulled back to the Ear
string to the ear positionMoreover, in foreign countries the bow string is usually pulled back as far as the archer's neck, in Japanese Kyudo it is pulled all the way back to the archer's ear. Accordingly, the length of arrow is made longer. When a person sets an arrow to the bow, he sets it on the right side of the bow and adopts the "Mongol form" for Torikake hook, in which Torikake is held at the root of right thumb, hooking the bow string. (Yokyu (Western-style archery) adopts "Mediterranean style" in which a string is held with the forefinger, mid finger and annular finger.) The Torikake of Menggu style is seen commonly in regions where Tankyu is used such as Turkey, Mongolia, China, and Korea, and in the Menggu style of shooting an arrow is often set on the right side of the bow. It is said that this was devised so not to lose an arrow from the opposing wind on a running horse.

kyudo in Japanee natureKyudo developed to fit the Japanese Environment
While in foreign countries Tankyu (short bow) is used because of it's advantage on horseback, Wakyu of Chokyu has been used in Japan as an exception. A warp called "Iriki" is set on Wakyu in order to push the arrow along the right side of a bow, and the technique of shooting called "Tunomi (the balance of tension at the root of the thumb)" was developed to take advantage of it. In addition, after the Edo Period the form of Yugake leather glove worn on the right hand had largely changed, which also stimulated a particular form and technique in Japan.

Kyudo activity in a University
Kyudo activity in a University
Kyudo match in Tokyo
Kyudo match in Tokyo

Comparison to the Sport Archery


Kyudo uses Mongolian Style of Archery
Technically, archery uses the 'Mediterranean style,' in which the arrow is fixed on the left side of the bow (as viewed from the body) and the string is drawn with the index, middle and third fingers of the right hand, while Kyudo uses the 'Menggu (Mongol) style,' in which the arrow is fixed on the right side of the bow and torikake (gripping of the bowstring with the right hand) is maintained by hooking the string with the base of the right thumb (see the comparison with archery of foreign countries in Kyudo). Additionally, archery in Japan adopts Kyudo's Shaho hassetsu.

Japanese Bow consists of Bow and String Only
kyudo Male KyudokaIn terms of tools, Kyudo and archery are essentially the same, but while in archery many supplementary tools (stabilizer, sight (sighting device), clicker, etc.) are attached to the bow (depending on the athletic event), the Japanese bow is basically a bow and string. In archery, there are bows for both the left and right hand, but in Kyudo the bows are basically only for the left hand (in Kyudo, the bow is held in the left hand and the string is drawn with the right hand).

In terms of rules, Kyudo doesn't allow the arrow to be returned to its original position in a match, and the arrow that is dropped before shooting is disqualified as 'shitsu' (an error).

Kyudo Practice in the School Club
Kyudo Practice in the School Club
Kyudo in Shinto Ritual
Kyudo in Shinto Ritual

History of Kyudo

ancient kyudo

Origin from the Jomon Period to the Kofun Period (tumulus Period)
The history of the bow and arrow goes back to the Stone Age. Sekizoku (a flint arrowhead) and simple wooden bow were used. In Japan the bow and arrow appeared in the beginning of the Jomon Period (10,000-13,000 years ago) and was used as a tool for hunting. As decorated, lacquered bows were buried with prey, it seems to have been used already for witching and spiritual events. In the Yayoi Period life changed from hunting and gathering to rice farming, which led to many problems on lands in order to getting field and water, so the bow and arrow developed into weapons on the battlefield. During this period, the bow and arrow were improved for strength and a long bow with a grip on the lower side, was devised. According to a description in the Gishi-wajin-den (魏志倭人伝), there was already an original Wakyu in the Kofun Period.

Ancient times (from the Asuka Period to the early Heian Period)
Samurai carrying Wakyu"The Chronicles of Japan" says that the 'Emperor went to Asazuma. He saw horses owned by someone below the Daiseni rank at Nagara-jinja shrine. At that time, he made them practice archery on horseback,' as well as 'Umayumi (騁射)' and 'Haseyumi (馳射),' so, original Kisha seemed to have been performed as a shrine ritual, and it also describes that "Taisha-rokuho" was defined by Emperor Monmu and put on exhibition at the end of the Asuka Period. According to the "Shoku-Nihongi," Kisha (Japanese archery style on horseback) was actively performed during the Nara Period. The origin of the "Yakatamochi-no-shinji ritual" of Muroki-jinja Shrine goes back to the Nara Period, which shows that the spiritual power of the bow and arrow was already believed in. It is suspected that some forms of Kyuju and codes of etiquette existed in ancient times, but there is little historical data to explain Yumiire in ancient times. It is unknown whether schools of that time in fact existed or not and what their origins were.

kyudo and samuraiFrom the Heian Period to the Edo Period
Over hundreds of years, the structure of Wakyu progressed (for details, see the article; History of Wakyu) and Kyudo developed greatly which led to today's Kyudo, Kataboshi Yugake was invented (a type of thumb glove) at the beginning of Edo Period (see the article on Yugake) and the techniques of 'Tsunomi' and 'Yugaeri (the technique where the Japanese bow turns in the left hand after the release).' Since Samurai appeared in the 10th centuries during the Heian Period, Kisha and Kyudo had been considered to be Kyuba-no-michi as a profession of the Samurai. Kisha and Kyudo were major forces in battle and were practiced actively as operational martial arts until the middle of the Sengoku Period. In addition, bow and arrows were considered to have the power to drive off evil and were treated as highly spiritual goods or sacred equipment (even today Hamayumi (ceremonial bow is used to drive off evil) keeps a trace of faith and Kyudo and the Yabusame-shinji ritual are performed in various places). In the Kamakura Period 'Kisha-Mitsumono,' three archers riding horses, Inuou-mono, Kasagake, and Yabusame, were actively performed as one of the military arts or as a performance at events, but it declined temporarily in Azuchi-momoyama Period. The 'Bow and arrow' retired from the status of major weapon in battlefields in the latter part of the Sengoku Period, but 'Yumiire' remained popular as a profession among Samurai so, that drawing a bow was considered to be a discipline of mind and body even during the peaceful Edo Period and various schools of Kyudo and ways of shooting developed.

In the Edo Period the activities of each school were at their peak. At the beginning of the Edo Period, 'Toshiya,' a competitive sport of shooting at a target through Nokishita (about 120m long) of Sanjusangendo, gradually became popular and the sharp shooters of feudal retainers from each domain competed in order to be called 'Tenka-soitsu (the best shooter in Japan)' by staking their domain's prestige and their lives. In 1669 Kanzaemon HOSHINO (Bishu-Chikurin group of Heki school) recorded 8,000 Toshiya shooting 10,242 arrows and in 1686 Daihachiro WASA (Kishu-chikurin group of Heki school) recorded 8,133 Toshiya shooting 13,053 arrows. In the mid-Edo Period, Yabusame, which once declined temporarily, was promoted by Yoshimune TOKUGAWA and had revived as a shrine ritual all over Japan.

Samurai on the horseback with yumi

In the Meiji and Taisho Period
Kyudo, which was a profession of the samurai, was forced to make a major change with the times from the end of Edo period to the Meiji period. At the end of the Edo period, in 1862, the 'ceremony of presenting Kyudo' at the Edo bakufu (the Japanese feudal government headed by a samurai shogun) was abolished, and Kyudo was eliminated from the subjects taught at Kobusho (institute for martial arts training). Then, with the Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor) in 1867, traditional Kyudo culture was forced into a decline when the feudal system characteristic of the shogunate and samurai society collapsed. In 1871, with the Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), martial arts education at hanko (a domain school) disappeared and its practicality was lost not only in Kyudo but in martial arts in general, further accelerating the decline of martial arts. Until the Meiji Restoration, with some exceptions, only members of the samurai class were allowed to draw bows, but after the restoration the common people were allowed to draw bows, and it rapidly became a game or an amusement. On the other hand, Yumiya (bow and arrow) as a tool for pleasure already existed among the common people, and gambling archery halls at public resorts were very popular in urban areas after the revolution. Many of the gambling archery halls were entertainment and amusement businesses, and they flourished so much that the Meiji government enacted restrictions.

By early Meiji, Yumiire/Kyusha culture declined to the extent that the bow was often associated with gambling archery halls. While the public Kyudo dojos (training halls) disappeared under such social conditions, Japanese Kyudo and its traditional culture survived thanks to activities by sincere Kyudo-ka (Kyudo artists), who worked on properly passing down the ancient Kyudo traditions by opening private Kyudo dojos, etc. In the mid-Meiji, with the beginning of elementary education, full enforcement of conscription, victory in the Japanese-Sino and Japanese-Russo wars, etc., a nationalistic thinking arose in society along with a surge in patriotism. Martial arts began being used as national policy, and citizens once again recognized and respected the various martial arts, including Kyudo and Bushido (the code of the samurai). This social trend led to the 1895 founding of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, an organization managing various martial arts, by key figures living in Kyoto, and was headquartered in the Butokuden constructed in the precincts of Heian-jingu Shrine in Kyoto. Various martial arts, including Kyudo, shifted their focus from technique to the cultivation of the Japanese spirit, and in 1920 the Bujutsu Senmon Gakko was renamed as Budo Senmon Gakko.

On the other hand, in reaction to the sentiment, "It's good as long as it hits," which prevailed in the period of decline, a tendency toward the sentiment, "If the shooting form is good, it doesn't matter if it does not hit," meaning an overemphasis on the spirit, was becoming common. Additionally, from the Taisho period to the early Showa period, a shooting form called Shomen-uchiokoshi (shooting with front-facing posture), as performed by the Honda-ryu school and its disciples, became very popular. Later, the disciples of Toshizane used this shooting form to distinguish themselves as members of the Honda-ryu school.

kyudo and Osaka castle at nightThe early Showa Period and end of World War II
The Butoku Kai aimed toward the unification of forms in various martial arts as one of its projects, and while 'the kyudo form of the Empire of Japan' for kyudo and 'the Jujutsu form of the Dai Nippon Butokukai' for Judo were established, the shooting forms of Kyudo were set for unification as well. In September 1933, based on requests from the national meeting of Hanshi (the top rank) and Kyoshi (prestigious title) held in May of that year, a 'kyudo kata (shooting form) research committee' was formed by famous Kyudo artist, who were called from all over the country by the chairman of Butoku Kai, Soroku SUZUKI. Sadajiro ATOBE, the director of the Kyudo section in Butoku Kai, became the committee's chairman, and discussions for 'the united shooting form' were held for three days, beginning on November 10, at the Butokuden in Kyoto. The first day, three Jarai (shooting ceremonies), Makiwara-jarai (a way of ceremonial shooting to shoot straw butt), formal shooting facing targets and formal standing shooting, based on the Ogasawara school, were decided. The second day, shooting forms were discussed, but when 'Uchiokoshi (anchoring)' was discussed they each advocated their own school's shooting forms, 'Shomen-uchiokoshi' or 'Shamen-uchiokoshi (anchoring in slanting position)' and would not give in, leading to a hot debate and ending the day without a conclusion. On the final day, the discussion seemed to break down, all agreed to adopt the compromise proposal of 'an intermediate method for Shomen-uchiokoshi and Shamen-uchiokoshi' presented by Hanshi Noribe, and a tentative decision was made. In November 1934, this was called 'Kyudo-yosoku (basic art of shooting an arrow)' and was officially established as the united shooting form. Butoku Kai tried to spread and enforce it nationwide, but this 'intermediate compromise' raised many opinions pro and con from the Kyudo world, and a major debate emerged in magazines and newspapers, eventually mocking it a 'Nue-mato shaho (slippery art of shooting an arrow).'

kyudo in showa

In 1937, the Sino-Japanese War erupted, and in the following year the 'National General Mobilization Act' was issued. Martial arts were thus gradually incorporated under government management for 'enhancement of the national strength and enhancement of the national prestige,' and were put to use. In 1942, the existing Butoku Kai was reorganized with Prime Minister Hideki TOJO as its chairman, the ministers of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Education, Ministry of the Army, Ministry of the Navy, Ministry of the Interior and an academic expert as vice-chairmen, a private citizen as administrative director, and governors of the region as the heads of the branches. The headquarters operation was transferred from the Butokuden in Kyoto to the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Tokyo, and thus a new Dai Nippon Butoku Kai was established as an extra-departmental organization of the government, co-managed by five government ministries. Hanshi, Yozaburo UNO, was assumed as the chairman of the Kyudo section in Butoku Kai and also served as the executive director of Butoku Kai. Martial arts grew and spread significantly with this new start as an extra-departmental organization of the government.

Kyudo, which was treated somewhat like a conserved martial art and an intangible cultural property, participated actively in activities such as the dispatch of players to Shinkyo (Xingjing) (July 1942) for the 'Japan-Manchuria Budo Championship,' celebrating the tenth anniversary of the founding of Manchukuo. In March 1943, the new Butoku Kai changed the titles to Hanshi, Tasshi and Renshi (Senior Teacher), and the dan-i (qualification of rank) to a to-i system, with the fifth 'to' as the first dan level, the fourth 'to' as the second dan level, and so on to the first 'to' as the fifth dan, thus abolishing the sixth dan and those above it. In March 1944, Hanshi, Yozaburo UNO, the chairman of the Kyudo section in the new Butoku Kai, established and became the chairman of the 'Kyudo-Kyohan Seitei Iinkai (committee to establish Kyudo-Kyohan)' and created the 'Kyudo-Kyohan (teaching method of Kyudo).' Regarding the pending issue of the form of Uchiokoshi, they accepted the 'Kyudo-yosoku' while also accepting the traditional Shomen and Shamen, and adopted the three styles of Shomen, Shamen and Kyudo-yosoku.

While they were active, for instance performing guidance tours and traveling reviews, when the Pacific War situation became imminent the government strongly recommended martial arts training to the citizens in order to focus the lives of the citizens entirely on the pursuance of the war. However, toward the end of the war, air raids and naval gunfire by the Allied Forces became fierce in various parts of Japan, and many Kyudo dojo burned down. The Kyudo dojo that survived the fires were used for purposes other than Kyudo (warehouses, lodges, etc.), and the environment for pursuing Kyudo and martial arts became very much worse. Furthermore, due to the hardship of life there was no room for the bow in terms of time nor psychology, and people became distanced from Kyudo. After the war, due to a backlash against the rigorous enforcement of martial arts from before the war to during the war--which was something of a national policy--people's feelings toward the martial arts became very harsh.

kyudo in showa period

The Postwar Period
When World War II ended, Butoku Kai tried to immediately change its existing nature to that of a private organization, and therefore privatized its operation in January 1946. Efforts were made on behalf of conservation and development through mutual cooperation with various martial arts organizations, the board members were appointed from among the private citizens, being recommended through a council elected from around the country, and the items they handled were limited to kyudo, Judo and Kyudo. They were approved by the Minister of Education, but the surveys by the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers gradually became vigorous, and for the following reasons there emerged an atmosphere in which dissolution was ordered. It was a powerful, centralized organization. They comprised high-level military personnel and police officers related to the Special Higher Police both centrally and locally, and were connected to national organizations. They had enormous assets. Butoku Kai and the Ministry of Education held various talks, but eventually they recognized that dissolution was unavoidable and so ultimately decided on dissolution. They presented a report to the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers on September 28, 1946, and announced a voluntary dissolution on October 31, bringing an end to the 52-year history of Butoku Kai. However, the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers did not accept the voluntary dissolution of Butoku Kai and instead ordered the dissolution of Butoku Kai on November 9, expelling around 5,000 people from the public and private sectors who were involved in Butoku Kai. With the dissolution of the Butoku Kai, enthusiasts organized local federations in various regions, spreading them nationwide.

kyudo in postwar period

The All Nippon Kyudo Federation was formed in 1947, gathering the consensus of these various organizations. However, due to various factors it resulted in dissolution in December 1948. On April 3, 1949, the 'Nihon Kyudo Federation' was founded, and on August 2 it was formally accepted as member of the Japan Amateur Sports Association. On September 15, 1953, it received permission from the Ministry of Education to establish a foundation. When the state of society settled in 1954, the movement to re-establish Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, which had occurred two years earlier, became active again and emerged as an issue within the Kyudo federation as well. However, after careful discussions the Ministry of Education rejected the request for the establishment of Butoku Kai in August 1955, given the existence of a national organization democratically organized and operating soundly, and which was also a member of the Japan Amateur Sports Association. Consequently, archers participating in the movement to re-establish Butoku Kai within the Kyudo federation left the federation. On January 18, 1957, it was renamed as the 'All Nippon Kyudo Federation.'

In August 1953, 'Textbook of Archery, Volume 1' was published to alleviate the confusion in shooting forms that had occurred after the war, as well as to clarify the fundamental principles of Kyudo. The advantages of various schools were utilized as indicators of modern Kyudo, and the fundamental principles of Kyudo could be learned without the need for a participant to belong to a specific school. In the 'Textbook of Archery,' Shaho hassetsu was defined, and the united uchiokoshi (intermediate uchiokoshi) in the 'Kyudo-yosoku,' which was established in the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, was officially abolished, so that the Shomen and Shamen uchiokoshi methods were adopted. Manners and movements of the Ogasawara school were mainly adopted for Jarai and Taihai (posture and manner of the martial art), unifying the Jarai and Taihai, which varied among schools, to a style consistent with that of the federation, and correcting the confusion in matches and reviews.

Kyudo in contemporary societyContemporary Kyudo
Today, the All Nippon Kyudo Federation is taking the lead in adopting the characteristics of the schools, and with the mainstream shooting forms taking into consideration its nature as a sport in modern society, the shooting forms are becoming more consistent nationwide, so that there are fewer differences among regions. However, the 'shooting form based on a unified view' of the All Nippon Kyudo Federation is vague, with differences in regard to technical theory being apparent among instructors, and consequently there is no so-called 'united shooting form' such as the 'kyudo form of Japan' by the All Japan kyudo Federation (AJKF). Shaho hassetsu', 'manners' and 'distance' are the only aspects that are officially defined by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation. As an extreme example, it's considered acceptable for now, when the same bow, arrow and Kyudo gloves are used at the same shooting range, but the techniques are completely opposite. The reason for such differences in technical theory is in the unique evolutionary process of Japanese Kyudo. There is a history of development behind it, where the evolution and development occurred separately among the schools depending on the purpose, such as for horseback shooting 'Kisha' (to shoot an arrow while riding a horse), shooting on foot 'Busha' (to shoot an arrow while walking) and Toshiya shooting, 'Dosha,' (long-range archery). The techniques of the schools and techniques from traditional technical systems in Japanese Kyudo, such as Busha, Kisha and Dosha, became intermixed in the 'Shaho hassetsu,' and techniques were sorted out by archers and instructors, so that today many archers follow the 'shooting form' that is a mixture of those techniques. Archers who draw the bow with a clear understanding of Busha, Kisha and Dosha, which have different goals, have become very rare. Thus, with the change taking place in the high dan-i instructor class, the rising and fading popularity of shooting techniques and shooting forms over time is viewed as one of the characteristics of today's Kyudo. Meanwhile, the Kyudo and Kyudo schools continuing from ancient times either value the foundation (either Kisha, Busha or Dosha) of their development or assume the ancient tradition through consistent techniques and teachings that meet the different purposes by preserving the teachings of the ryuso (a founder of a school, an originator), traditional schools, etc. Many schools and organizations operate under the All Nippon Kyudo Federation, but there are schools and organizations that operate without any involvement with the All Nippon Kyudo Federation.

Kyudo Hunting by Samurai in the Muromachi Period
Kyudo Hunting by Samurai in the Muromachi Period
Archery Exhibition Contest held in Kyoto in late Edo Period
Old Archery Exhibition Contest at Sanjusangendo Hall in Kyoto
Samurai using Japanese Bow Wakyu fighting against Mongolian Army
Samurai using Japanese Bow Wakyu fighting against Mongolian Army

Tools and Uniform of Kyudo

WakyuJapanese Bow "Wakyu"
Japanese bow, approximately 221cm long (possibly being slightly longer or shorter), held about one-third the way from the bottom. Originally, it was a bamboo bow made of bamboo and wood glued together with isinglass (a kind of gelatin), but today bamboo bows glued with synthetic adhesive or affordable ones made of fiber-reinforced plastic (glass fiber, carbon fiber) are popular.
Ya Arrow
Metallic arrowhead, nock to fix the arrow and three feathers attached to a no (spatula) (also called the shaft) made of bamboo, duralumin or carbon. Two arrows per set: a haya (a male arrow) and an otoya (a female arrow)
A deerskin glove that's worn on the right hand when drawing the bow. There are the Mitsugake (glove covering three fingers), Yotsugake (glove covering four fingers) and Morogake (glove covering all five fingers), depending on the number of fingers to insert. Today, the kataboshi (a glove with hardened thumb) with a wooden tsuno (called a boshi) inside for the thumb is common. In the past, waboshi (a soft glove (without a hardened thumb)), which had no tsuno inside, was mainstream (the tsuno can be inconvenient because one can neither draw a bow while on horseback nor hold a sword).
Twined hemp or synthetic (Kevlar, aramid, etc.) coated with kusune (pine resin boiled with oil) for additional strength. Some made with synthetics are not coated with kusune.
Examples include hoshimato, kasumimato, sanshokumato (三色的), iro mato for long-distance shooting, iwari, etc. The sizes vary from 1 m to 8 cm in diameter.
straw buttStraw butt
Bundled straw. A target for training* There are arrows made especially for straw butt.
KyudogiThe Kyudo uniform
The top is a kimono with snug-fitting white sleeves. The hakama (a pleated and divided skirt made in fine stripes) is in black or navy, and men wear machi (horse-riding) hakama while women wear either machi hakama or andon hakama without the koshiita (back plate). The hakama is put on after an obi (kimono sash). Shirotabi (white Japanese socks) are worn.

Kyudo Dojo


The Most Famous kyudo in Japan and the World
As a general rule, for the sake of safety Kyudo should be performed in a dedicated dojo. Currently, there are more than 1,400 public and private Kyudo dojo in Japan, and in some cases temporary dojo are built in gymnasiums, etc., with due attention to safety. Kyudo dojo are categorized as kyudo dojo for regular close-range shooting or kyudo dojo for long-distance shooting, and the number of people who can face the target (the number of targets to be placed) varies from one to 15 or more, depending on the size of the dojo.

Kinteki Dojo

Kyudo Dojo for Regular Close-Range Shooting
The distance from the shooting position (archer) to the target is 28 m, and normally a target 36 cm in diameter is used. Matoba, which houses a dirt hillock and the targets, has dirt piled to form a slope to prevent damage to arrows, and this is called Azuchi. Most Kyudo dojo in junior high school to college are of this kind, as are public and private dojo, and regular training is done in the Kyudo dojo for close-range shooting. Because it's relatively easy to obtain the floor space, many archers build simple dojo for one to two persons in their own homes.

Toteki Dojo

Kyudo Dojo for Long-Distance Shooting
Generally, the distance from the shooting position to the target is 60 m, and normally a target 1 m in diameter is used. Because a large area is required, there aren't many designated Kyudo dojo for long-distance shooting. There is no Azuchi with piled dirt in the Matoba. Most are built next to a Kyudo dojo for the regular close-range shooting, and today, due to space limitations, there are dojo built across two floors, such as the Kyudo dojo in Tokyo Budoh-Kan, or those that are also used for archery.

Kyudo in Match
Woman Kyudo
Kyudo samurai
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Encyclopedia of Japan