Ever shot archery from a horse!? You can watch the great show here at this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
- Don't miss the archery competition coming up on October 21 at 1 p.m!
Both the country of Japan and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have recognized Kamigamo Jinja as a Protected Historic Site and a World Cultural Heritage site.
Among the many structures in the Kamigamo Jinja complex, particularly noteworthy are the Haiden and the Gonden. Respectively, the main shrine in which the Kamigamo Jinja’s deity (Wakeikazuchi) resides, and the temporary house of the deity (used during the restructuring of the main one). The buildings of Kamigamo Jinja are architectural gems, full of rich art and cultural history. They create a beautiful painting-like landscape immersed in a natural treasure of trees and flowers.
Perhaps one of the most unique characteristic of the Kamigamo Shrine are the two golden sand cones built in front of the Hosodono hall which are meant to purify the site. Another unique part of the shrine is a traditional competition that involves kasagake, a form of archery where players are mounted on a horse and do not stop to shoot their target.
The art of kasagake
In 2005, thanks to the effort of many dedicated people, this great show full of entertainment and historical relevance was brought back to life. However, it was literally almost a lost art. Kamigamo Jinja used to hold these types of competitions centuries ago. In 1214, Emperor Gotoba Jyoko expressed great interest in Japanese archery and started hosting, for a few years, kasagake events in Kamigamo. After his defeat during one of the power struggle periods in Japan this event disappeared for 800 years.
Every year a Kasagake demonstration/competition takes place in October.
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Captured: A rare traditional event at Kamigamo Jinja in Kyoto where horse-ridders shoot archery while the animal is still on the move. Next show/competition is Oct. 21 starting at 1 p.m. #Kasagake #japanesetraditional #gaijinpottravel [Video by Lucio Maurizi. Follow him: @nihonbakuma]
During the competition, athletes dress in traditional clothing and adopt the same techniques as their ancient counterparts, attempt to hit targets positioned at different angles. The archers must employ different techniques, while riding on a galloping horse in order to simulate military maneuvers. The shooting methods that must be executed during the competition make kasagake the most technically challenging form of Japanese archery.
The event is organized reproducing all the aspects that were present at its inception, including the offers to the god of the shrine by the athletes, plus accompanying chants and parades. The combination of the impressive organization of the event and its breathtaking setting deliver a truly thrilling experience.