The Yabusame Festival is a traditional event in Japan that showcases the impressive skill of horseback archery. This festival has been practised for centuries and reflects Japan’s rich culture and history. The festival is held annually and brings together horse-riders, archers and spectators from all over Japan and the world. During the Yabusame Festival, horse-riders dressed in traditional costumes gallop down a track while shooting arrows at targets set up along the way. The festival is not only a display of impressive horse riding and archery skills but also a celebration of Japanese tradition and values.

Location Of Yabusame Festival

The Yabusame (Horseback Archery) Festival in Kai, Japan is held in the city of Kofu, which is located in the Yamanashi Prefecture in central Japan. The festival takes place at the Yamanashi Prefectural Horse Racing Association near Kofu Station.

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場所:シッコゴ公園 Place:Shikkogo Park

History Of The Yabusame Festival

Yabusame, or horseback archery, has been an important part of Japanese culture for centuries. The history of Yabusame dates back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333) when Yoritomo Minamoto established the samurai class as the ruling military class of Japan. Yabusame was a vital skill for samurai warriors as it was seen as a way to showcase their bravery and skill in battle.

The Yabusame Festival in Kai, located in the Yamanashi Prefecture, is one of the oldest and most well-known Yabusame festivals in Japan. It is believed to have started around 700 years ago during the Kamakura period when the samurai clans of Kai Province held horseback archery competitions to train their warriors.

The festival is held every year in April and begins with a Shinto ceremony that is meant to honor the spirits of the warriors who have passed away. After the ceremony, the horseback archery competition begins. There are usually three archers who compete, each riding a horse that is specially trained for the event. The archers wear traditional samurai clothing and shoot at targets that are set up along a 255-meter course.

The Yabusame Festival in Kai has been used to promote tourism in the Yamanashi Prefecture since the early 1900s. In the past, it was primarily a local event, but thanks to initiatives to promote traditional Japanese culture, it has become a popular event for tourists and locals alike.

Yabusame Festival

Image is from WikiCommons via Jim Mills and used under CC3.0.

Today, the Yabusame Festival in Kai is not just a display of horseback archery skills, but it is also a way to celebrate Japanese culture and tradition. The festival attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to witness this ancient art form and to experience a piece of Japanese history.

Lively Spectacle of Yabusame Festival

The Katsunuma Yabusame festival is a lively and colorful spectacle, where the participants dress up in traditional Japanese costumes. The festival is initiated with a parade of gorgeously dressed archers, musicians, and attendants. The parade consists of two groups of archers, one representing the East and the other the West of Katsunuma.

The Art of Yabusame

The origin of Yabusame dates back to the Kamakura period when it was used as a religious ritual to ensure prosperity and ward off any evil spirits. Over time, it evolved into a more intricate art of horseback archery. In the Yabusame ritual, the archers gallop on a horse at full speed, aiming to hit the target with three arrows. The goal of this sport is not just to hit the target but to do it with a poised and perfect display of Japanese horsemanship.

The Competition

The competition has a total of 15 riders who are divided into three groups of five archers each. The archers participating in the festival are the ones who have passed the selection trials held before the event. Each group of archers is allotted a specific time slot, and their performance is closely examined by the judges, who assign scores based on their accuracy and elegance.

The archers shoot a total of three arrows during their run, and the targets are made in the shape of a bird, a boar, and a deer. The hits are counted as points, and the rider with the highest score is declared the winner.

Attraction of The Festival

Apart from the Yabusame competition, the festival has other attractions, including traditional food stands and souvenir shops. Many people come from different parts of the country to witness the festival and enjoy some of the locally made sake wine and traditional Japanese meals.


The Katsunuma Yabusame Festival is a must-visit event for those who want to experience the traditional and cultural side of Japan. The skills of horseback archery have been passed down through the generations of the samurai, and the festival successfully showcases the royal art. So, plan your trip to Japan in January and be amazed by the sights and sounds of Yabusame – an unmatched cultural spectacle.


What is Yabusame?

Yabusame is a traditional Japanese art of horseback archery, where riders gallop on horses and attempt to hit a target with arrows.

When is the Katsunuma Yabusame Festival?

The festival is held annually.

Where is the Katsunuma Yabusame Festival held?

The festival is held in the town of Katsunuma, located in the Kai region of Japan.

How many riders participate in the festival?

The festival has 15 riders, divided into three groups of five.

What are the targets made of?

The targets for the Yabusame competition are made in the shape of a bird, a boar, and a deer.