Female Horse Archers Compete in Aomori Pref. Spring Contest

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A mounted archer aims at a target during the Sakura Yabusame competition in Towada, Aomori Prefecture, on April 22.

TOWADA, Aomori — A women-only horseback archery competition was held in Towada, Aomori Prefecture.

Forty-three women from in and outside the prefecture participated in the Sakura Yabusame event, held at the city’s Chuo Park on April 22 and 23. This was the 20th time the event has been held.

Though the prefecture was hit with strong cold winds on April 22, the warm sunshine kept things pleasant. The event seemed designed to evoke the poetic word “azusayumi,” which literally means bows made of Japanese cherry birch and is used to refer to spring.

Participants competed at four levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced and professional. Spectators burst into applause as archers in traditional Japanese costumes raced through a straight course of about 200 meters, balancing themselves and shooting arrows at targets.

Ringochan, a celebrity impersonator from the city, performed the purification ritual to ensure the safety of the course. She pumped up the crowd by riding at a gallop through the course with her arms outstretched.

“The event was very worthwhile. I was impressed by the archers’ strong core strength, too. It really showed what it means for a rider and her horse to be one,” said Hiroki Goto, 44, a company worker from Aomori City.