Yabusame is the military art of discharging an arrow at a target while riding on a running horse. Each year in both Autumn and Spring Moroyama town celebrates this ancient military art form. However, in 2020 the Autumn Yabusame was cancelled on account of the Coronavirus.
Moroyama is the only place in Saitama where teenage boys perform the yabusame as a cultural rite of passage. Furthermore, the event has been running bi-annually for almost a thousand years. Consequently, it was designated as a Prefectural Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005. Yabusame was first practised by Samurai Warriors in the late Heian period until the end of the Kamakura period.
Yabusame in Moroyama in Autumn
The Autumn event is always on Culture Day, November 3rd. The main display of archery on running horses takes place about 3 pm. In addition, there are other events as well, in the lead up to this, including some very unique traditional customs. From November 1st the boys undergo purification and a number of other rituals. On the day they parade through the town from about 2 pm after an important ritual were they are donned with flowered kabuto. (In the spring event, children under 7 perform the archery). In both spring and autumn, the sacred young boys shoot at targets with arrows imparted with divining power. The people hope these arrows will convey their wishes to the divinity.
5-17-1,iwainishi moroyama-machi irumagun saitama-ken
Other events on Culture Day in Saitama:
Other points of interest in Moroyama –