Those of us who work in Japan are lucky enough to get one or two national holidays a month. Health and Sports Day – also simply known Sports Day – is one such day held annually on the second Monday in October. It commemorates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, and exists to promote sports and an active lifestyle. To coincide with the national holiday, many traditional sporting events take place throughout the city. And so a few weeks back I headed on over to Yasukuni shrine with my mate Matt to check out some Kusajishi archery.
Kusajishi literally means ‘grass deer’ and originates from the 12th century when Minamoto no Yoritomo – the founder and the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan – was hunting at the foot of Mount Fuji. He saw many archers fail to hunt game, and so suggested that they hone their skills by shooting at a mock-up target of a deer made from bundled grass. The garments worn by the archers at this event were particularly stunning.
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