Slowly but surely, the archers made their way to the staging area where each archer prepared themselves with meticulous poise and grace. The detail in every movement was incredible. Before attending, we’d learned that the aim of Kyūdō (Japanese archery), is to train the mind and body through learning to focus on firing an arrow with the right ‘ma’ai’, or timing. We were captivated.
Slowly adjusting their robes to prepare for the bow and arrow and steadying themselves in preparation for action, we watched in anticipation as the arrows were presented to the archers as if they were a newborn child being given to their parents for the first time.
And then it came to the firing of the arrows. The first was a pair of men, who slowly adjusted their robes and steadied themselves for the spectacle. And then, finally, the release. Letting go of the arrow, the arrow travelled majestically through the air, emitting a low gentle hum as the crowd audibly gasped and crowed, and burst into applause.
We watched as other archers repeated the mantra, a meticulous routine which was in every way as interesting as the firing of the arrow. It was another fascinating insight into Japanese culture, amply demonstrating ancient rituals combined with absolute focus on detail.
After the ceremony, we explored the grounds of the temple, another victory in design and organisation, as streams and trees effortlessly coexist with the temple and its inhabitants.
Admiring the spectacle that is a traditional Japanese archery ceremony was an amazing experience and one we’ll never forget. We’d highly recommend seeking out this opportunity when visiting Kyoto.