Kyoto Shimbun 2004.1.18 News

Historical "Toshiya" Archery Contest Held at Sanjusangen-do
Young Women in Colorful Kimono also Fire Arrows

An annual New Year's event, the "Toshiya" archery contest, was held at Sanjusangen-do hall of Myoho-in Temple in Higashiyama-ward, Kyoto City on Sunday.

Many archers, including young people who celebrated becoming adults on this year's Coming-of-Age Day (January 12th), shot arrows as a pledge to improve their skills. Young women wearing colorful "Furisode" kimono also participated in the contest and fired arrows one after another. The pointed arrows cut through the cold air like a sharp knife.

The contest has its origins in the Edo period (1600-1867) when samurai warriors competed by shooting arrows down the 120-meter long, narrow hall. The contest, organized by the Kyoto Prefecture Archery Federation and the temple, is held each year in conjunction with the Coming-of-Age Day.

This year, a record of 2,300 people, including "new adults" and skilled archers holding third-dan or higher, took part in the contest. Lined up in single file at the shooting range set up on the west side of the hall, they each shot two arrows at targets (50 to 100 centimeters in diameter) 60 meters away. A tense atmosphere enveloped the range and spectators gazed at the archers who drew their bows with serious expressions on their faces.

Photo = Young women in colorful kimono draw bows, aiming at targets 60 meters away. (Sanjusangen-do, Myoho-in Temple, Higashiyama-ward, Kyoto City)