Kasagake is one type of Japanese traditional archery and one of the arts practiced by the Samurai.
It consists of shooting an arrow using a bow, while riding a horse.
This archery festival at the Kamigamo Shrine, is the only Kasagake event currently celebrated in the Kansai Region, and the only one conducted as a Shrine ritual in all Japan. Also, this event is famous for the participation of female archers.
The day of the festival was a bit rainy, the running path was muddy but not to the point of slippery, and the arrows and bows were hard to control as they were also wet. Despite all of this, the archers were incredibly graceful and hit many targets which always produced a collective wow in the viewers.
What you will see: There is a ceremony before they begin which consists of the archers being offered an arrow. They follow that by doing test runs on the 215 meter grassy path which was created by putting rope on both sides. There are three targets on the left side. The targets are made from either wood or ceramic. After they ride one way and hit the three targets on the left, they run back and have a new set of targets to go for. The targets on the way back are wooden squares which have been placed down low. The way their bodies move to shoot in this direction is very different from when they shoot the targets up high. When they shoot low it's more of an attack. When they are done shooting they have another ceremony during which the best of the day is acknowledged. Then they finish it off with a shot of sake offered to them by a priest and a parade and group photo. The silence of it all was something I'd never experienced outside of my thoughts.
Seeing this in person was THE BEST THING EVER.