Using Archery to Understand Japanese Culture

idodoodle compoundbowsIf you are into the Japanese culture, you would know by now that it is very extensive and goes a long way back. It is vibrant and colorful even at some point it is violent. Japan has been involved in a lot of wars and among its neighboring countries like China and colonization of Korea but that is not the point. To know more about a culture, it has never been easier but at the same time difficult when it comes to Japan’s. The easy part it is that the Japanese people’s daily lives and activities are filled with tradition and practice towards perfection and balance. With this in mind, while learning and embracing a sport, in this case archery or Kyudo, you will be learning a lot about Japanese culture. So what is Kyudo and how far it goes back in Japanese history.

It is considered a Japanese martial art called Gendai Budo of archery; people who practice this art are called Kyudojin meanwhile experts are referred to Kyudoka. The whole martial art is based on Kyujutsu or art of archery. This art first came about when the samurai classes developed it during Japan’s feudal age. It is popular worldwide and as of late the International Kyudo Federation has listed about 132,760 members as of 2006.

Just like everywhere else, the beginning of archery in Japan is unrecorded. The very first time it was pictured in Japanese art showing an asymmetrical longbow are going all the way back to the Yayoi Period and that is about between 500 BC to 300 AD. However, the first time it was first mentioned in any document, ironically was from Chinese chronicle Weishu describing Japanese archery. It says that the archers from the Japanese isles are using wooden bows that are long from the top side and short on the bottom.

It started emerging when society in Japan changed as the military class, the Samurai, took power at the end of the first millennium, thus creating a requirement of learning archery. This resulted in the development of the first kyujutsu ryuha (style) called henmi-ryu and was founded by the archer named Henmi Kiyomitsu in the 12th century. Moving forward the development of the style, his descendants founded the takeda-ryu and the mounted archery school ogasawara-ryu. Then war struck from 1180 to 1185 and was called the Genpei War which ramped up the demand for archers. This resulted in where the founder of Ogasawara-ryu to start teching the art of Yabusame also known as mounted archery.

What can you use for? Well, kyudo is being taught in many different schools all over the world. Some will have a much more military background than others and some descended from a much more ceremonial or meditative practice of kyudo. Therefore it is going to be evident that their emphasis on the art is different which is not very uncommon for different Japanese activities. That all things (and activities) serve a purpose and that purpose is all up to you who does it.

While this form of archery may be difficult to achieve especially since it requires some sort of discipline, modern day archery is another kind of story. We can now easily learn how to shoot a compound bow or other types of bows. This can begin by finding the right bow for us. There are numerous brands in the market that you can choose from.