Thursday, October 1, 2015

Carpe Diem #831 Ohmato Taikai (Festival of the Great Target)

!! My apologies for being this late with publishing !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy ... after such a long time of being patient I can start with our third anniversary month. Today I have a wonderful festival for you ... this festival is called: Ohmato Taikai, Festival of the Great Target, and (as you will understand) it's a festival especially for archery (Kyudo) and it takes place around January 10th, say around the Japanese (classical) New Year.

Let me tell you a little bit more about this Festival:

 “Ohmato Taikai”, our prompt for today is a 400 year old archery competition held at the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple in January. This temple in Kyoto has always attracted Kyudo (Japanese archery) enthusiasts. The main hall building is the longest wooden building in Japan — it is 120 meters long.
Credits: Sanjūsangen-dō Temple

The competition, called Tōshiya (lit. passing arrow)  started in 1606 when a Samurai gave a demonstration of his Kyudo prowess — shooting 100 arrows in rapid succession the entire length of the temple. He hit the target 51 times.
Since this, an annual Kyudo contest has been held at the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple with various archery marathons events:

The Hyakui
Most target hits with 100 arrows.

The Seni
Most target hits with 1000 arrows. In 1827, an 11 year old named Kokura Gishichi successfully hit the target 995 times firing from half the distance of the hall.

The Hiyakazu
Boys who had not yet celebrated their Genpuku, or coming-of-age ceremony, could compete in this event. Archers would shoot as many arrows as possible for a 12 hour period during the day. In 1774, Masaaki Noro, a 13 year old from Kishū, shot 11,715 arrows with almost all of them hitting the target. That’s an average of 16 arrows a minute for 12 hours with no break. 
Credits: Ohmato Taikai
The Oyakazu
The number of target hits in 24 hours. In 1686, Wasa Daihachiro from Kishū successfully shot 8,133 out of 13,053 arrows averaging 544 arrows an hour, or 9 arrows a minute, and became the record holder.
The Tōshiya competition ceased being held in 1861, after 255 years. Since then, a contest based on it, the Ohmato Taikai, or Festival of the Great Target, still continues today, drawing roughly 2,000 participants from throughout Japan. The sight of all these 20 years old woman participants in colorful kimono with hakama is awesome!  Archers shoot arrows into targets approximately 50 – 100 centimeters in diameter and 60 meters away. The contestants are all 20 years old and there are also demonstrations by older, more experienced archers.
The archers shoot in groups of six. There are only 4 targets. Each archer has two arrows and two minutes. Archers that hit the target with both arrows go on to the next round.(Beneath you can find a video about this festival). 
I hope you did like this episode of our Haiku Kai and I hope it will inspire you to write/compose an all new haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 4th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our next episode, our first CD Special of this festive month, later on.


  1. This festivals month is going to really open my eyes on Japan. The archery festival is so intriguing.

  2. My September sojourn is finished, so i'm once more writing in response to some of my favourite prompt sites
    Thanks for this interesting post Kristjaan

    much love...