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Koyama Yabusame Festival

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Koyama Yabusame Festival


Witness the ancient ritual of horseback archery at this annual fall harvest celebration

Osumi Tourism and Regional Development Corporation



In the town of Kimotsuki in Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Kyushu, a performance of traditional Japanese horseback archery is held every year on the third Sunday of October. The Koyama Yabusame Festival starts at 10:00 with a parade of costumed warriors through downtown Kimotsuki, followed by the traditional horseback archery performance in front of Shijukusho Shrine at 14:00.
This festival started in Koyama during the Kamakura period (1185–1333) as a yearly ritual to pray for national security, a good harvest, and to banish bad luck. In mid-August, a 13-year-old boy is chosen to be the archer; he then has several weeks to practice his archery and riding skills before the festival. Traditionally, the archer who is selected for the performance stays in the shrine for two days before the festival, takes part in a number of rituals, and finally becomes a messenger of the gods through a bow receiving ceremony.
The archer is dressed in traditional garments (kariginu-shozoku) and headwear (ayai-kasa). It’s an incredible spectacle to watch the archer, riding a sacred horse, galloping three times along a 330-meter-long course and shooting a total of nine arrows. In addition to horseback archery, other events, such as a fireworks display the day before the main parade, are held during the festival, all of which attract many spectators.


How to get there

It takes about 2 hours by airplane from Haneda Airport to Kagoshima Airport, and about 90 minutes by car from Kagoshima Airport.
It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes from JR Hakata Station to Kagoshima Chuo Station by Shinkansen bullet train, and about 1 hour and 40 minutes by car from Kagoshima Chuo Station.


5580 Niitomi Kimotsuki-cho, Kimotsuki-gun, Kagoshima-ken


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