YABUSAME: Japanese horseback archery

14 08 2006

Roll on over to Samurai Dave’s, and drink in a beautiful post about the ancient art of Yabusame, or Japanese horseback archery:

Japanese bows date back to prehistoric times. The long, unique asymmetrical bow style with the grip below the center emerged under the Yayoi culture (300 B.C. – 300 AD) Bows became the symbol of authority and power. The legendary first emperor of Japan, Jimmu, is always depicted carrying a bow.

The use of the bow had been on foot until around the 4th century when elite soldiers took to fighting on horseback with bows and swords. In the 10th century, samurai would have archery duels on horseback. They would ride at each other and try to fire at least three arrows. These duels did not necessarily have to end in death, as long as honor was satisfied.

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One response

13 10 2010
terry pike

Hi just been looking into the role of the Yahoi culture in the development of horsemanship for military combat which seems to be associated with the domination of the former Jormons by the arrival of the more sophisticated Yahoi
The Epi-Jomon culture in the Tohoku and Hokkaido is the culture that archaeologists have identified with what historians have called the Emishi, Ebisu and Ezo-ancestral to the Satsumon culture.
If the Satsumon are the origin of the Samurai warrior cults this would suggest that the Samurai dominance of the infantry bowmen was superseded by the more sophisticated Yayoi from about 300BC when horsemanship with the unique Sumari bow appeared (which is thought to have been introduced by the Yayoi) which then gave much greater mobility to the bowmen making them the elite fighters of the army so displacing the former foot soldier cults as the Yayoi began to dominate the former traditions of the Jorman, this in turn generated a cult rivalary between the ancient Jorman sword fighting skills and the Yayoi bowmanship.
In later times the Satsuma Samurai became very powerful in Japan until there defeat led to there voluntary displacement to Okinawa offered to them as a consolation prize which also served to satisfy the needs of japans new rulers to keep the still powerful cult away from Japans internal affairs

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