12 pictures that uncover Japan's 900-year-old sacred ritual of horseback archery


horseback archery competitor

Taro Karibe/Getty

Yabusame is an ancient tradition started by samurais during the Japanese feudal period.


Japan is home to some of the oldest traditions and rituals in the world.

On November 3, the country celebrated its national Culture Day, with locals participating in parades, ceremonies, and a sacred sport called Yabusame.

Yabusame is a ritual based on martial arts that formed during Japan's feudal period.

From around 1185 right up until 1867, Japan was ruled by military dictators called "Shoguns." Each region was run by different feudal lords who kept samurais - the equivalent to knights in medieval Europe.


Yabsame competitions, which involve horseback archery, evolved as a way for feudal lords to test their samurais on accuracy, skill, and strength.

Today, it is considered a religious ritual rather than an athletic tournament. Competitions take place all over the country throughout the year. In Tokyo, people flock to the city's Menji Shrine to watch archers compete in Yabusame.

Take a look at the ancient pageantry.