Japan Horseback Archery Group Eyes English-language Live Stream to Boost Overseas Popularity

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A member of the Japan Equestrian Archery Association practices yabusame

In a bid to foster overseas interest, the Japan Equestrian Archery Association plans to live stream a traditional horseback archery event on Sunday using English subtitles.

The organization hopes to boost foreign fascination in such events — known as yabusame in Japanese — by broadcasting the Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture event on the YouTube video-sharing site.

Yabusame involves shooting arrows at targets while riding a galloping horse with the aim of appealing to deities for peace, rich harvests and health. The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. on the day in the association’s grounds near Shonan-Fukasawa Station on the Shonan Monorail.

Audio commentary will be provided in both English and Japanese, with six cameras tracking proceedings. By following the live stream, visitors will be able to track all aspects of the event in real time, something that could prove difficult for on-site attendees.

Additionally, a series of shrine rituals, including the rarely seen dedication of a kaburaya — a whistling arrow used to signal the start of a battle — will be held with the participation of Shinto priests before the horseback archers begin unleashing their feather-tipped projectiles.

Yabusame will also feature at the Japan Cultural Expo 2.0, organized by the central government.

The association plans to use PR activities to encourage foreigners living in Japan to visit Kamakura for the event, too. It also has scheduled similar demonstrations at Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto City in October, and again in Kamakura in December.

“We’d like to build our know-how regarding how to attract tourists to the event, while holding open practice sessions for foreigners once or twice in a month,” said association board member, Yuya Sebata, 45.