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.