Osumi Peninsula

Shijukusho Shrine Yabusame (Horseback Archery)

Intangible Folk Cultural Property
Mid Oct  
  • Shijukusho Shrine Yabusame (Horseback Archery)1
  • Shijukusho Shrine Yabusame (Horseback Archery)2
Yabusame is a festival that exemplifies and upholds the traditions of the Osumi Peninsula. It refers to the technique, exercise, and ritual of traditional Japanese equestrian archery, of shooting a kaburaya (whistling arrow) from atop a galloping horse. Nowadays, yabusame is performed in two locations in the Osumi Peninsula: at Shijukusho Shrine in Kimotsuki and Sumiyoshi Shrine in Sueyoshi.
In the Yumiuke no Gi (Accepting of the Bow Ritual), the archer is appointed as a divine messenger. Donning a kariginu (hunting garment) and ayaigasa (conical hat), he races down the track on his sacred horse.
The horse rushes out to the call of the hikite (the horse’s handler) and carries the archer through the roughly 330-meter (360-yard) track three times, during which time the archer fires a total of nine arrows.
In the moment when the sounds of the arrow hitting the target and the footsteps of the galloping horse resonate as one, a great cheer from the crowd resounds throughout the woods surrounding the shrine.
Although most yabusame ceremonies throughout Japan feature adult archers, the archer in the yabusame ceremony in Kimotsuki is a junior high school student, with a different student taking on the role every year.
Yabusame was first performed in Koyama in the Kamakura Period (1192−1334) as an annual prayer for national prosperity, an abundant harvest, and ends to epidemics. These prayers remain as part of yabusame today.
According to historical records, yabusame began in Japan in 1096, during the reign of Emperor Shirakawa. Yabusame also appears in The Tale of Hogen and the Tale of Heiji, which were composed in the early Kamakura Period.
Tomono Kanesada, the grandson of Shijukusho Shrine’s founder Tomono Kaneyuki, was the Kimotsuki District tax collector in 1036. Koyama Yabusame appears to have begun roughly 100 years later, meaning that the event is believed to date back nearly 900 years.
In old times, yabusame was held on October 19, which is Shijukusho Shrine’s annual festival day. Now, however, the event is held on the 3rd Sunday in October.

Basic Information

Event Days Mid Oct      
Address 鹿児島県肝属郡肝付町新富5580   Directions
Venue Shijukusho Shrine
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