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Kōyama Yabusame Festival

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Kōyama Yabusame Festival


Witness the ancient rite of horseback archery in this annual harvest festival

Osumi Tourism&Regional Development Corp.



In the town of Kimotsuki in Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Kyūshū a display of traditional Japanese horseback archery is held every year on the third Sunday of October. The Kōyama Yabusame Festival starts at 10:00 with a parade of costumed warriors through downtown Kimotsuki, followed by the traditional horseback archery in front of Shijukusho Shrine at 14:00.


This festival started in Kōyama 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 the archery and riding skills before the festival. The selected archer stays in the shrine for two days before the festival, performs a number of rituals, and finally becomes the messengers of the gods through the 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 the horseback archery, other events are held during the festival including a fireworks display the day before the main parade, all of which attract many spectators.


How to get there


90 minutes by car from Kagoshima Airport or 1 hour 40 minutes by car from JR Kagoshima-Chūō Station.



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