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The history of Japanese horseback archery dates back to the 4th century, however, women mounted archers are a modern innovation.
Yabusame (流鏑馬) is a type of mounted archery in traditional Japanese archery. An archer on a running horse shoots three special “turnip-headed” arrows successively at three wooden targets. A red parasol is displayed if the rider hits the target with the arrow.
Traditionally, women were barred from performing in yabusame, but in 1963 female archers participated in a yabusame demonstration for the first time. Every spring in Towada, women from around the area demonstrate their marksmanship while balancing on a galloping horse!
A yabusame archer gallops down a 255-meter-long track at high speed. The archer mainly uses the knees to control the horse and uses both hands to draw and shoot the bow.
Yabusame was designed as a way to please and entertain the myriad of gods that watch over Japan, thus encouraging their blessings for the prosperity of the land, the people, and the harvest.
An arrow finds it’s mark!
A young archer in training.
Here is a beautiful poem written by C. Richard Miles in response to the recent eathquake and tsunami in Japan.
Sakura, cherry blossom, flutters snow-soft, so soft, down
Across the shattered flotsam of a flattened fishing town,
Homes battered into matchwood as the sea grew tea-brew brown,
Souls scattered to displacement camps or swept aside to drown.
And as the blossom settles, tumbling from the twisted trees,
It’s followed by massed snowflakes jumbling in the biting breeze,
To bring a needy nation nearly humbled to its knees
Condemning the survivors grumbling as they starve and freeze.
Cold comfort for this country, yet more gloom for those who cry
To match the wheeling seagulls screeching in the soft spring sky
Where this tsunami brought such evil; we just wonder why
Earth’s nature means that many decent people have to die.
And still a silent fall-out threatens which may be much worse
From Fukushima’s wreckage, which they struggle to immerse
With cooling wetting sea-spray hoping that they will reverse
A nuclear disaster beckoning with its cruel curse.
Though earthquakes wreak their worst, we still can look through hopeful eyes;
Humanity will conquer every challenge life supplies,
For as they face the future, we are sure Japan will rise
A phoenix from the ashes, their resilience never dies.
Thank you for sharing this inspiring poem….
I know that many people are wondering what they can do to help Japan. Personally, I support the American Red Cross by volunteering my time in support of the cleanup efforts around my home in Northern Japan. If you also want to donate to the Red Cross in support of the relief effort, please visit RedCross.org and click “Donate now”. You can specify that the funds you donate support the Japanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief effort. Also text “Red Cross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. The American Red Cross will facilitate your donation the Japanese Red Cross. Your contribution will make a difference!!
Here is one on my new favorite recipes. It’s good for the waistline too, with less than 200 calories per bowl!
8 ounces boneless beef sirloin steak
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large shallot, cut into thin rings
4 cups water
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 carrots, cut into matchstick strips (1 cup)
1/3 cup long-grain rice
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon instant beef bouillon granules
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli
1 to 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
1. Trim fat from beef. Cut beef into bite-size strips. In a large saucepan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef and shallot in hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until beef is brown. Remove beef mixture with a slotted spoon; set aside.
2. In the same saucepan combine water, apple juice, carrots, uncooked rice, ginger, bouillon granules, and garlic. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
3. Stir in the broccoli and beef mixture. Simmer, covered, for 3 minutes. Stir in the teriyaki sauce. Makes five 1-1/2-cup servings
Original recipe can be found here: This soup is wonderful, especially when the weather is a little chilly (see below).
2011 is the year of the rabbit! Everywhere across japan you can find the image of the rabbit on cards, calenders, and stamps. The year is based on the cycles of the Chinese lunar based calendar. Chinese New Year occurs in February 3rd.
According to theholidayspot.com the year ahead should be:
A placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the Tiger. We should go off to some quiet spot to lick our wounds and get some rest after all the battles of the previous year.
Good taste and refinement will shine on everything and people will acknowledge that persuasion is better than force. A congenial time in which diplomacy, international relations and politics will be given a front seat again. We will act with discretion and make reasonable concessions without too much difficulty.
A time to watch out that we do not become too indulgent. The influence of the Rabbit tends to spoil those who like too much comfort and thus impair their effectiveness and sense of duty.
Law and order will be lax; rules and regulations will not be rigidly enforced. No one seems very inclined to bother with these unpleasant realities. They are busy enjoying themselves, entertaining others or simply taking it easy. The scene is quiet and calm, even deteriorating to the point of somnolence. We will all have a tendency to put off disagreeable tasks as long as possible
Money can be made without too much labor. Our life style will be languid and leisurely as we allow ourselves the luxuries we have always craved for. A temperate year with unhurried pace. For once, it may seem possible for us to be carefree and happy without too many annoyances.
On our last trip to Tokyo, we were walking through Ueno and happened upon the monument to the flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Standing in front of this monument is a very moving experience. The marble slab is surrounded by hundreds of paper cranes, a symbol of peace.
The Origin of “the Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”
“On August 6, 1945, US forces dropped the world’s first atomc bomb on Hiroshima, and another on Nagasaki…Sometime later, Tatsuo Yamamoto went to Hiroshima in search of his uncle, and found a flame of the atomic bomb burning in the ruins of his uncle’s house. He brought it back to Hoshino-mura, his hometown in a memento of his uncle and an expression of his resentment. But years went by, the meaning of the flame turned into a symbol of his desire for abolition of nuclear weapons and for peace. Hoshino-mura built and torch and transferred the flame to it on August 6, 1968. It has been keeping the flame ever since as the flame for peace, with the support of the villagers.
“The use of nuclear weapons will destroy the whole human race and civilization. …The elimination of nuclear weapons…has become the most urgent and crucial for the very survival for the whole of humanity. There must never be another Hiroshima anywhere on earth. There must never be another Nagasaki anywhere on earth.” – Appeal from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, issued in February 1951.
In 1988, a flame was taken from the torch and was merged with another flame lit by the friction of broken roofing tiles of Nagasaki. Along with 30 million signatures collected in support of the “Appeal from Hiroshima and Nagasaki”, it was carried to the Third Special Session of the UN General Assembly for Disarmament taking place in New York City.
We hereby pledge to keep burning the A-Bomb flame, convinced that this monument should contribute to strengthening the worldwide people’s movement to abolish nuclear weapons and achieve peace, which is the most urgent task for the people across the borders. – August 1990, Association for the Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Lit at Ueno Toshogu”