As you make your way amongst the murmurs of the gathered crowd in the rapidly cooling fall breeze, you suddenly pause, detecting the distinctive sound of a horse in full gallop. The rest of the crowd is transfixed eagerly on the approaching rider, who is donned in full traditional attire, and in his left hand is carrying a bow as long as you are tall. The hoofbeats grow louder, and you stop to gape at the rider, who in one fluid motion, draws an arrow from his quiver, strings it in his bow, and acquires his target.
Thunderous silence echoes in the seconds before release, to the replaced by the soft thud of slender wood impacting hay, and the roar of approval from the crowd. This is Yabusame.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrines Reitaisai festival is a three day event, featuring displays of yabusame, but also including a portable shrine parade, dancing, tea ceremony, Judo, and flower arrangements.