Festivals & Events
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Reitaisai Festival 鶴岡八幡宮例大祭
A horseback ritual spanning centuries
Be wowed by the strength, skill and stamina of horseback archers as they compete in this competition dating back to the Heian Period (794-1185). Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Reitaisai takes place on September 14, 15 and 16 in Kamakura .
- Witnessing the rare art of yabusame, or horseback archery
- Trying Japanese street food while watching traditional performances
How to Get There
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is a 10-minute walk from Kamakura Station.
From Tokyo, take the Shonan Shinjuku Line from Shinjuku Station to Kamakura Station. The ride takes about an hour.
The art of war
Yabusame is the art of horseback archery, a military skill developed during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) and perfected during 250 years of peace in the Edo Period (1603-1868). Every September this difficult and, unfortunately, dwindling practice is celebrated at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine during Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Reitaisai.
A target-rich environment
Reitaisai is a competition requiring strength, skill and stamina, not unlike medieval tournaments in Europe.
Three archery targets are spaced out along a 250-meter straight course. Competitors dressed in traditional samurai hunting outfits gallop by on horseback, shooting an arrow at each target in turn. The arrows are specifically designed to whistle when shot so spectators can hear them. Thousands of people attend Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Reitaisai every year.
Song and dance
While the yabusame is the main event, there's much more for you to see and do at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Reitaisai festival.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine holds a tea ceremony in honor of its deities, along with performances of traditional dances. A parade of mikoshi shrines winds through the streets, and everyone can enjoy the festive atmosphere with a variety of street foods and drinks. Don't forget, you can also see yabusame at the Kamakura Festival in April.