Culture

In pictures: The pageantry of horseback archery

Yabusame — traditional archer on horseback — started in the Kamakura Period (1185–1333) as a way to appease the gods for prosperity and hone the Zen-like focus of samurai warriors.

The eventual arrival of firearms eventually to the decline of archery as a military necessity, though reenactments are currently staged around the country at various times of the year, most famously at shrines in Kamakura and Kyoto.

For the 34th annual Asakusa Yabusame, 20 archers assembled in Tokyo’s Sumida Park on Saturday noon to show their sharpshooting skills.

Archers prepare for Asakusa Yabusame, a horseback archery display, held annually at Sumida Park near Asakusa in Tokyo. This year 30 mounted archers participated in the event, which was held on April 16.
Archers prepare for Asakusa Yabusame, a horseback archery display, held annually at Sumida Park near Asakusa in Tokyo. This year 30 mounted archers participated in the event, which was held on April 16. | SATOKO KAWASAKI
A parade of the horses and riders, dressed in colorful period attire, kicks off the event.
A parade of the horses and riders, dressed in colorful period attire, kicks off the event. | SATOKO KAWASAKI
A mounted archer, with his horse running a full gallop, releases his arrow. The goal is to hit the target three consecutive times.
A mounted archer, with his horse running a full gallop, releases his arrow. The goal is to hit the target three consecutive times. | SATOKO KAWASAKI