Japanese archery is also known as kyudo.
Long ago, bow and arrow were used as weapons in Japan, but at the end
of the Muromachi period (1338-1573) all this changed
when kyudo started to develop itself as a martial art, in which
formality, good manners and discipline of body and mind were more
appreciated than victory or defeat.
An excellent opportunity to watch archers (in traditional dress) in a
13th century surrounding (which is classified as a National Monument)
is half January in the
Sanjusangen-do temple in Kyoto.
Picture: Frantisek Straud (www.phototravels.net)
The archers are lined up under a part of the roof of the temple and aim
at a target that is at a distance of 60 or 120 meter away.
Every participant is shooting two arrows. Great skill is required to
hit the targets, as the arrows have to be shot in an upward arc in
order to be able to bridge the distance.
Amongst the participants are a number of young people, using this occasion to celebrate their coming of age.
The ladies (undoubtedly the eye-catchers) are dressed in splendid furisodes.
On the same day, Yanagi-no-okaji is held. This is a ritual in
which New Year's water is purified and then sprinkled over the
bystanders by means of the branch of a willow tree.
More info about Toshiya can be found on: http://www.case.edu/artsci/engl/marling/~~~~/20.html