Yabusame (horseback archery) has its roots in the Kamakura period when samurai used the competition to improve their skills (indeed, Kamakura is host to a much larger event that takes place three times per year). During the Edo period, the horseback archery event was held on 5 January at Asakusa Shrine, but today takes place annually in mid-April in the nearby Sumida Park. The competitors—dressed in traditional hunting attire—aim to hit all three targets with a special arrow which has a turnip-shaped tip.
There are two events: a standard archery display called kusajishi (草鹿) or “grass deer”—dry grass bundled together to look like a deer which samurai used to use for practice—and the main event: the horseback archery.
- Archery: 11:45-12:45 (free)
- Horseback archery: 13:00-14:30 (¥3,000 per seat)
As you might expect, the horseback archery session draws a lot of spectators and so purchasing the tickets in advance is strongly advised. There are 550 seats in total (excluding seating reserved for those with disabilities), 150 seats of which are for foreign visitors only as English-speaking staff are on hand in this area. Tickets are available for purchase from 1 March from the Taito Ward Municipal Offices (9th floor) or the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center (1st floor).