Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine Matsuri

Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine Matsuri

September 14-16
After the opening ceremonies are held on September 14, the annual celebration at the Tsurugaoka Hachiman shrine in Kamakura, Japan, begins on the 15th with a parade of three mikoshi, portable shrines to which the spirits of the gods are believed to descend during the festival. But the highlight occurs the following day, when the Yabusame takes place. It features three men on horseback in hunting clothes called karishozoku, which date from the Kamakura Era (1192-1333) and feature wide-brimmed, high-crowned hats with chin straps and elaborate kimono-style robes. The horsemen, all of whom are top-rated archers, ride down a straight track about 850 feet long near the shrine's entrance. Three targets are set up along the route, and the archers shoot their arrows at them while travelling at a high rate of speed.
In feudal times, Yabusame was an arrow-shooting game in which samurai warriors, under the guise of being contestants, showed off their battle skills. Today it is primarily a form of entertainment.
CONTACTS:
Japan National Tourist Organization
1 Rockefeller Pl., Ste. 1250
New York, NY 10020
212-757-5640; fax: 212-307-6754
www.japantravelinfo.com
SOURCES:
IllFestJapan-1993, p. 110
JapanFest-1965, p. 189