Tsuwano Town's guardian god
The only mounted archery site retaining its original form in Japan
Tsuwano is called the little Kyoto of Sanin, located in southwest Shimane Prefecture. Summer brings fireflies to this picturesque castle town. Washibara Hachimangu Shrine is surrounded by this simple, beautiful scenery. It has a long history. It was originally built nearby, over 1000 years ago during Japan’s Heian Period. Later in 1387, Tsuwano’s first feudal lord moved part of the Hachiman God, which is a god of the fortunes of war, from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura in today’s Kanagawa Prefecture, and rebuilt the shrine in its current place as the castle’s protective god.
A pond was created in the area between the main shrine, worship shrine and tower gate, and a bridge was built. This construction style is unique to this region, so it was designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. The tower gate’s raftered roof is very unusual; it is not very showy, but its appearance is fine and simple in harmony with its surroundings, and one can sense its excellent style.
Inside its boundary is a 270 m long horse mounted archery site, so it is a designated historical site, as the only mounted archery site retaining its old form in Japan. Yasubame horse mounted archery is a ceremony in which men wear a Kamakura Era samurai hunting costume called Ageshozoku, ride a galloping horse, and aim at three targets. A Yasubame horse mounted archery ritual is held at Washibara Hachimangu Shrine during the spring festival each April.
- Washibara, Tsuwano-cho, Kanoashi-gun, Shimane