Toh-shiya (Archery Contest)

Kyoto, Kansai

Come and experience the spirit of Japanese archery.
A contest of archers firing arrows at targets 60 meters away

Archers compete against each other in the 120-meter long Sanjusangen-do Temple, which is the world’s longest wooden structure. The l meter in diameter target is positioned 60 meters away, so a high level of expertise is required. As this event marks the first shooting of arrows in the New Year, it is also called “New Year archery” and is held on the Sunday closest to January 15th. Advanced-level archers, as well as 20-year-olds gather there from all over the country. In Japan, coming of age occurs when turning twenty. Rows of young women dressed in kimono in celebration of entering adulthood draw their bows, creating a very impressive sight.

This ceremony apparently dates back to the middle of the 12th Century. It is said that master archers were able to hit their targets across the 120-meter space between northern and southern ends of Sanjusangen-do Temple. In the Edo Period, a contest began based on the number of arrows hitting the target during the 24-hour period from 6 o’clock in the evening to 6 o’clock the next day. The greatest record so far achieved was by Wasa Daihachiro in 1688 when he successfully shot 8,132 arrows, achieving a hit ratio of an astounding 62%. On the pillars, you will find traces of samurai warriors’ arrows which missed their target.

Admission is free on the day of this ceremony. In the main hall a Buddhist monk will pray for your health in the New Year by using a willow branch to sprinkle over you water purified through seven consecutive days of prayers by the monks.


[Bus]Close to Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae bus stop by City Bus No. 206 or No. 208 from Kyoto Station.[Walk]7 minutes' walk from Keihan Railways' Shichijo Station.
Sanjusangen-do Temple
The Sunday closest to January 15th
Dates and functions are subject to change without notice. Be sure to check the latest information in advance.
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City

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