Kyudo (Japanese art of archery) (弓道)

"Kyudo" is a Japanese martial art in which the mind and body are trained through a series of conduct in shooting a Japanese bow and arrow at a target. It developed long ago as Kyujutsu (the art of Japanese archery) for tactics and military art, and today it's also considered a sport or a healthful exercise. Meanwhile, some schools from ancient times still exist and are preserving the traditional school while coexisting with modern Kyudo.


The All Nippon Kyudo Federation

It was established in 1949. It's a nationwide organization affiliated with the JOC, the Japan Amateur Sports Association and the Nippon Budo Kyogikai (Japan Budo Association). Fifty-four local federations from all prefectures are affiliated (Tokyo Prefecture has three district federations--First, Second, Third--and Hokkaido has six district federations--Central, Western, Southern, Eastern, Chubu and Northern). They review and award titles (e.g., Hanshi, or the top rank) and the kyu and dan grades.

The International Kyudo Federation

In 2006, they were formed around the All Nippon Kyudo Federation as an international organization for Kyudo, but as of 2008 no real activity is taking place.

The Kyudo Federation of Students Association

It was established in 1953. It's an organization for college students, and nearly all Kyudo-bu (archery clubs) in universities and junior colleges nationwide are affiliated. It's independent of the All Nippon Kyudo Federation and has its own regulations for matches.

The All Japan High School Athletic Federation Kyudo Division
It manages high school Kyudo in cooperation with the All Nippon Kyudo Federation.

Additionally, there are occupational organizations such as faculty federations and businessmen's federations, as well as school organizations. Large-scale school organizations include Zaidanhojin Seikyukai (Seikyukai Foundation) (Honda-ryu school), Ogasawararyu Domonkai and Urakami Domonkai (Heki-ryu Insai-ha).
(Refer to schools)

Number of players
According to a study by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation in 2003, the number of registered Kyudo federations (local federations) nationwide was around 126,000. The male-to-female ratio was roughly 1:1, with about 61,000 high school students (49%), about 44,000 from the general public (35%), about 11,000 junior high school students (9%) and about 10,000 college students (7%). However, this study needs to take into account that unless receiving a review or participating in matches, registration with the federation isn't mandatory.

Looking at the number of players by prefecture based on local federation registrants, the top five were Aichi Prefecture, Kanagawa Prefecture, Hokkaido (a total of six district federations), Saitama Prefecture and Tokyo Prefecture (a total of three district federations), and the bottom five prefectures were Okinawa Prefecture, Wakayama Prefecture, Akita Prefecture, Shimane Prefecture and Tottori Prefecture, in ascending order.

Junior high school students varied widely depending on the region, with local federation registrants of Tochigi, Aichi and Kagoshima numbering close to 2,000, while many local federations had figures ranging from none up to a few dozen.

High school students numbered approximately 60,000 players despite the recent decline in the birthrate, and thus shared the highest number of players in martial arts, surpassing the number of Kendo (Japanese art of fencing) players. However, the number of schools where it was played numbered only about 2,000, which is not many. Popularity varied widely depending on the region; for example, in Aichi Prefecture half the high schools have Kyudo-bu, while in Tokyo and Osaka it was about 10%.


Although various schools such as the Ogasawara school, Heki-ryu school, Honda-ryu school and Yamato-ryu school still exist and are active, the majority of Kyudo-ka (those who do Kyudo) don't belong to schools but follow the shooting form (Shaho hassetsu (eight arts of shooting an arrow)) defined by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation. Since some of the people belonging to schools belong to the All Nippon Kyudo Federation and receive reviews, the federation and the many school organizations are not in conflict.

The schools' lineages are categorized as the 'Reisha group' and the 'Busha group' in today's terms. The Reisha group refers to a shooting lineage that developed with elements of courtesy and ceremony, but in reality it refers to the Ogasawara school lineage. The Busha group refers to the shooting lineage that developed with focus on practical benefits on the battlefield, and it refers to the Heki-ryu school lineage. The Honda-ryu school is a Busha group school with a parent organization that is a Dosha lineage of the Heki-ryu school, known for excelling at Toshiya (long-range archery) at the Sanjusangendo Temple, and they adopted Shomen-uchiokoshi (shooting with front-facing posture), which was originally performed in the Reisha group.

Overseas promotion
Kyudo attracted the attention of foreigners through books such as "Zen in the Art of Archery," by Eugen Herrigel, in which the focus on spirituality was introduced, and even though it isn't an Olympic sport it's enjoyed especially in Europe and the United States with sports associations established there. However, even in Germany, where it's most popular, the number of registrants in the German Kyudo Federation is about 1,100, while the federations in other countries have several hundred at most. On May 2, 2006, the International Kyudo Federation was founded in order to popularize and promote Kyudo.

Meiji and Taisho

Kyujutsu, which was a profession of the samurai, was forced to make a major change with the times from the end of Edo period to the Meiji. At the end of the Edo period, in 1862, the 'ceremony of presenting Kyujutsu' at the Edo bakufu (the Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) was abolished, and Kyujutsu was eliminated from the subjects taught at Kobusho (institute for martial arts training). Then, with the Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor) in 1867, traditional Kyujutsu culture was forced into a decline when the feudal system characteristic of the shogunate and samurai society collapsed. In 1871, with the Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), martial arts education at hanko (a domain school) disappeared and its practicality was lost not only in Kyujutsu but in martial arts in general, further accelerating the decline of martial arts. Until the Meiji Restoration, with some exceptions, only members of the samurai class were allowed to draw bows, but after the restoration the common people were allowed to draw bows, and it rapidly became a game or an amusement.

On the other hand, Yumiya (bow and arrow) as a tool for pleasure already existed among the common people, and gambling archery halls at public resorts were very popular in urban areas after the revolution. Many of the gambling archery halls were entertainment and amusement businesses, and they flourished so much that the Meiji government enacted restrictions. By early Meiji, Yumiire/Kyusha culture declined to the extent that the bow was often associated with gambling archery halls. While the public Kyudo dojos (training halls) disappeared under such social conditions, Japanese Kyudo and its traditional culture survived thanks to activities by sincere Kyujutsu-ka (those who do Kyujutsu), who worked on properly passing down the ancient Kyujutsu traditions by opening private Kyudo dojos, etc.

In the mid-Meiji, with the beginning of elementary education, full enforcement of conscription, victory in the Japanese-Sino and Japanese-Russo wars, etc., a nationalistic thinking arose in society along with a surge in patriotism. Martial arts began being used as national policy, and citizens once again recognized and respected the various martial arts, including Kyudo and Bushido (the code of the samurai). This social trend led to the 1895 founding of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, an organization managing various martial arts, by key figures living in Kyoto, and was headquartered in the Butokuden constructed in the precincts of Heian-jingu Shrine in Kyoto. Various martial arts, including Kyujutsu, shifted their focus from technique to the cultivation of the Japanese spirit, and in 1920 the Bujutsu Senmon Gakko was renamed as Budo Senmon Gakko. At the same time, Kyujutsu was renamed as Kyudo. On the other hand, in reaction to the sentiment, "It's good as long as it hits," which prevailed in the period of decline, a tendency toward the sentiment, "If the shooting form is good, it doesn't matter if it does not hit," meaning an overemphasis on the spirit, was becoming common.

Additionally, from the Taisho period to the early Showa, a shooting form called Shomen-uchiokoshi (shooting with front-facing posture), as performed by the Honda-ryu school and its disciples, became very popular. Later, the disciples of Toshizane used this shooting form to distinguish themselves as members of the Honda-ryu school.

The early Showa and end of World War II

The Butoku Kai aimed toward the unification of forms in various martial arts as one of its projects, and while 'the Kendo form of the Empire of Japan' for Kendo and 'the Jujutsu form of the Dai Nippon Butokukai' for Judo (the Japanese art of self-defense) were established, the shooting forms of Kyudo were set for unification as well. In September 1933, based on requests from the national meeting of Hanshi (the top rank) and Kyoshi (prestigious title) held in May of that year, a 'kyudo kata (shooting form) research committee' was formed by famous Kyudo-ka, who were called from all over the country by the chairman of Butoku Kai, Soroku SUZUKI. Sadajiro ATOBE, the director of the Kyudo-bu in Butoku Kai, became the committee's chairman, and discussions for 'the united shooting form' were held for three days, beginning on November 10, at the Butokuden in Kyoto.

The first day, three Jarai (shooting ceremonies), Makiwara-jarai (a way of ceremonial shooting to shoot straw butt), formal shooting facing targets and formal standing shooting, based on the Ogasawara school, were decided. The second day, shooting forms were discussed, but when 'Uchiokoshi (anchoring) (mentioned later in Shaho hassetsu)' was discussed they each advocated their own school's shooting forms, 'Shomen-uchiokoshi' or 'Shamen-uchiokoshi (anchoring in slanting position)' and would not give in, leading to a hot debate and ending the day without a conclusion. On the final day, the discussion seemed to break down, all agreed to adopt the compromise proposal of 'an intermediate method for Shomen-uchiokoshi and Shamen-uchiokoshi' presented by Hanshi Noribe, and a tentative decision was made.
(Below is the 'intermediate method' of the time.)

In November 1934, this was called 'Kyudo-yosoku (basic art of shooting an arrow)' and was officially established as the united shooting form.
Butoku Kai tried to spread and enforce it nationwide, but this 'intermediate compromise' raised many opinions pro and con from the Kyudo world, and a major debate emerged in magazines and newspapers, eventually mocking it a 'Nue-mato shaho (slippery art of shooting an arrow).'

In 1937, the Sino-Japanese War erupted, and in the following year the 'National General Mobilization Act' was issued. Martial arts were thus gradually incorporated under government management for 'enhancement of the national strength and enhancement of the national prestige,' and were put to use. The Pacific War erupted in 1941, and as a result of discussions by government agencies, a new management organization for martial arts was established that year as an extra-departmental organization of the government, co-managed by the five ministries of Health and Welfare, Education, Army, Navy, and the Interior. The existing Butoku Kai was reorganized and united into this martial arts organization, and was therefore subsumed under it. In 1942, the existing Butoku Kai was reorganized with Prime Minister Hideki TOJO as its chairman, the ministers of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Education, Ministry of the Army, Ministry of the Navy, Ministry of the Interior and an academic expert as vice-chairmen, a private citizen as administrative director, and governors of the region as the heads of the branches. The headquarters operation was transferred from the Butokuden in Kyoto to the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Tokyo, and thus a new Dai Nippon Butoku Kai was established as an extra-departmental organization of the government, co-managed by five government ministries. Hanshi, Yozaburo UNO, was assumed as the chairman of the Kyudo-bu in Butoku Kai and also served as the executive director of Butoku Kai.

Martial arts grew and spread significantly with this new start as an extra-departmental organization of the government. Kyudo, which was treated somewhat like a conserved martial art and an intangible cultural property, participated actively in activities such as the dispatch of players to Shinkyo (Xingjing) (July 1942) for the 'Japan-Manchuria Budo Championship,' celebrating the tenth anniversary of the founding of Manchukuo. In March 1943, the new Butoku Kai changed the titles to Hanshi, Tasshi and Renshi (Senior Teacher), and the dan-i (qualification of rank) to a to-i system, with the fifth 'to' as the first dan level, the fourth 'to' as the second dan level, and so on to the first 'to' as the fifth dan, thus abolishing the sixth dan and those above it.
In March 1944, Hanshi, Yozaburo UNO, the chairman of the Kyudo-bu in the new Butoku Kai, established and became the chairman of the 'Kyudo-Kyohan Seitei Iinkai (committee to establish Kyudo-Kyohan)' and created the 'Kyudo-Kyohan (teaching method of Kyudo).'
Regarding the pending issue of the form of Uchiokoshi, they accepted the 'Kyudo-yosoku' while also accepting the traditional Shomen and Shamen, and adopted the three styles of Shomen, Shamen and Kyudo-yosoku. While they were active, for instance performing guidance tours and traveling reviews, when the Pacific War situation became imminent the government strongly recommended martial arts training to the citizens in order to focus the lives of the citizens entirely on the pursuance of the war. However, toward the end of the war, air raids and naval gunfire by the Allied Forces became fierce in various parts of Japan, and many Kyudo dojo burned down. The Kyudo dojo that survived the fires were used for purposes other than Kyudo (warehouses, lodges, etc.), and the environment for pursuing Kyudo and martial arts became very much worse. Furthermore, due to the hardship of life there was no room for the bow in terms of time nor psychology, and people became distanced from Kyudo.

After the war, due to a backlash against the rigorous enforcement of martial arts from before the war to during the war--which was something of a national policy--people's feelings toward the martial arts became very harsh.

The postwar period

When World War II ended, Butoku Kai tried to immediately change its existing nature to that of a private organization, and therefore privatized its operation in January 1946. Efforts were made on behalf of conservation and development through mutual cooperation with various martial arts organizations, the board members were appointed from among the private citizens, being recommended through a council elected from around the country, and the items they handled were limited to Kendo, Judo and Kyudo. They were approved by the Minister of Education, but the surveys by the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers gradually became vigorous, and for the following reasons there emerged an atmosphere in which dissolution was ordered.

It was a powerful, centralized organization.

They comprised high-level military personnel and police officers related to the Special Higher Police both centrally and locally, and were connected to national organizations.

They had enormous assets. Butoku Kai and the Ministry of Education held various talks, but eventually they recognized that dissolution was unavoidable and so ultimately decided on dissolution. They presented a report to the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers on September 28, 1946, and announced a voluntary dissolution on October 31, bringing an end to the 52-year history of Butoku Kai. However, the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers did not accept the voluntary dissolution of Butoku Kai and instead ordered the dissolution of Butoku Kai on November 9, expelling around 5,000 people from the public and private sectors who were involved in Butoku Kai.

With the dissolution of the Butoku Kai, enthusiasts organized local federations in various regions, spreading them nationwide. The All Nippon Kyudo Federation was formed in 1947, gathering the consensus of these various organizations. However, due to various factors it resulted in dissolution in December 1948. On April 3, 1949, the 'Nihon Kyudo Federation' was founded, and on August 2 it was formally accepted as member of the Japan Amateur Sports Association. On September 15, 1953, it received permission from the Ministry of Education to establish a foundation. When the state of society settled in 1954, the movement to re-establish Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, which had occurred two years earlier, became active again and emerged as an issue within the Kyudo federation as well. However, after careful discussions the Ministry of Education rejected the request for the establishment of Butoku Kai in August 1955, given the existence of a national organization democratically organized and operating soundly, and which was also a member of the Japan Amateur Sports Association. Consequently, archers participating in the movement to re-establish Butoku Kai within the Kyudo federation left the federation.
On January 18, 1957, it was renamed as the 'All Nippon Kyudo Federation.'

In August 1953, 'Textbook of Archery, Volume 1' was published to alleviate the confusion in shooting forms that had occurred after the war, as well as to clarify the fundamental principles of Kyudo. The advantages of various schools were utilized as indicators of modern Kyudo, and the fundamental principles of Kyudo could be learned without the need for a participant to belong to a specific school. In the 'Textbook of Archery,' Shaho hassetsu was defined, and the united uchiokoshi (intermediate uchiokoshi) in the 'Kyudo-yosoku,' which was established in the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, was officially abolished, so that the Shomen and Shamen uchiokoshi methods were adopted. Manners and movements of the Ogasawara school were mainly adopted for Jarai and Taihai (posture and manner of the martial art), unifying the Jarai and Taihai, which varied among schools, to a style consistent with that of the federation, and correcting the confusion in matches and reviews.

Kyudo in schools after the war

In November and December of 1945, martial art (Kendo, Judo, naginata (Japanese halberd), Kyudo) classes in schools were fully prohibited by the Ministry of Education, Physical Development issues 80 and 100, and extracurricular club activities were prohibited. The Ministry of Education attempted to cast aside anything of a wartime nature from school education, treating martial arts licenses as void and avoiding the use of the term 'martial arts,' claiming that it contained some military meaning. Later, on July 25, 1951, in response to a notification from the Administrative Vice-Minister of Education, Kyudo was approved as a tool for physical education in junior high school and above; thus it was permitted to be used again in school education, and the ban on extracurricular club activities was lifted. On July 11, 1953, the Kyudo Federation of Students Association was re-formed. In 1956, the Kyudo Division was established within the All Japan High School Athletic Federation. On March 29, 1967, the Ministry of Education's Physical Development Issue 120 was announced, thereby allowing Kyudo to be taught in physical education classes as a regular curriculum for high school physical education. In 1989, with the revision of the government course guidelines for high school, 'combative sports' was changed to 'martial arts,' and Kyudo, which was placed under 'individual events' instead of 'combative sports,' was included in the 'martial arts' domain.


Today, the All Nippon Kyudo Federation is taking the lead in adopting the characteristics of the schools, and with the mainstream shooting forms taking into consideration its nature as a sport in modern society, the shooting forms are becoming more consistent nationwide, so that there are fewer differences among regions. However, the 'shooting form based on a unified view' of the All Nippon Kyudo Federation is vague, with differences in regard to technical theory being apparent among instructors, and consequently there is no so-called 'united shooting form' such as the 'Kendo form of Japan' (the name of which was changed from 'the Kendo form of the Empire of Japan') by the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF). Shaho hassetsu' (discussed later), 'manners' and 'distance' are the only aspects that are officially defined by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation. As an extreme example, it's considered acceptable for now, when the same bow, arrow and Kyudo gloves are used at the same shooting range, but the techniques are completely opposite.

The reason for such differences in technical theory is in the unique evolutionary process of Japanese Kyudo. There is a history of development behind it, where the evolution and development occurred separately among the schools depending on the purpose, such as for horseback shooting 'Kisha' (to shoot an arrow while riding a horse), shooting on foot 'Busha' (to shoot an arrow while walking) and Toshiya shooting, 'Dosha,' (long-range archery). The techniques of the schools and techniques from traditional technical systems in Japanese Kyudo, such as Busha, Kisha and Dosha, became intermixed in the 'Shaho hassetsu,' and techniques were sorted out by archers and instructors, so that today many archers follow the 'shooting form' that is a mixture of those techniques. Archers who draw the bow with a clear understanding of Busha, Kisha and Dosha, which have different goals, have become very rare. Thus, with the change taking place in the high dan-i instructor class, the rising and fading popularity of shooting techniques and shooting forms over time is viewed as one of the characteristics of today's Kyudo. Meanwhile, the Kyudo and Kyujutsu schools continuing from ancient times either value the foundation (either Kisha, Busha or Dosha) of their development or assume the ancient tradition through consistent techniques and teachings that meet the different purposes by preserving the teachings of the ryuso (a founder of a school, an originator), traditional schools, etc. Many schools and organizations operate under the All Nippon Kyudo Federation, but there are schools and organizations that operate without any involvement with the All Nippon Kyudo Federation. As a unique example, in February 2009 there was a college student from a prefecture in western Japan who wore a mask shaped like a horse in a match, and that contestant won first place.
It raised an issue with many criticisms such as, 'It's disrespectful to Kyudo,' or 'It's impolite.'
If one takes such an action in public, he/she will be banned for life by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation.

Shaho hassetsu

The All Nippon Kyudo Federation explains and instructs the basic movements of shooting in eight separate parts. This is called Shaho hassetsu (Kyudo hassetsu) and was established by the Shaho-seitei-iin (constitution committee of shooting an arrow) of the Nihon Kyudo Federation (predecessor of the All Nippon Kyudo Federation) after the war. The technical details vary according to the school, personal ideas, physical build, thought, etc. The following are the basic contents of Shaho hassetsu, as described in the 'Textbook of Archery' issued by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation.


Bow (weapon)

Japanese bow, approximately 221cm long (possibly being slightly longer or shorter), held about one-third the way from the bottom. Originally, it was a bamboo bow made of bamboo and wood glued together with isinglass (a kind of gelatin), but today bamboo bows glued with synthetic adhesive or affordable ones made of fiber-reinforced plastic (glass fiber, carbon fiber) are popular.


Metallic arrowhead, nock to fix the arrow and three feathers attached to a no (spatula) (also called the shaft) made of bamboo, duralumin or carbon.
Two arrows per set: a haya (a male arrow) and an otoya (a female arrow)

Yugake (a glove on the right hand, ゆがけ) (also written as '弽,' '弓懸' and '弓掛け')

A deerskin glove that's worn on the right hand when drawing the bow. There are the Mitsugake (glove covering three fingers), Yotsugake (glove covering four fingers) and Morogake (glove covering all five fingers), depending on the number of fingers to insert. Today, the kataboshi (a glove with hardened thumb) with a wooden tsuno (called a boshi) inside for the thumb is common. In the past, waboshi (a soft glove (without a hardened thumb)), which had no tsuno inside, was mainstream (the tsuno can be inconvenient because one can neither draw a bow while on horseback nor hold a sword). Originally, the tsuno was inserted to make improvements for drawing many strong bows in Toshiya at Sanjusangendo Temple. There is only kataboshi for Yotsugake, but Morogake comes in a type without a tsuno for Kisha (being the same type that the samurai wore) and ones with boshi inside (Morogake is basically used only by people in the Ogasawara school). For Mitsugake, there are three types of yugake: the waboshi, which has no tsuno inside as mentioned above; the kataboshi; and the tsunoiriboshi, which falls between those two. There is also oshitegake for protecting the left hand. Additionally, there's a theory that it's the origin of the phrase 'kakegaenonai (irreplaceable),' but that isn't certain.


Twined hemp or synthetic (Kevlar, aramid, etc.) coated with kusune (pine resin boiled with oil) for additional strength. Some made with synthetics are not coated with kusune.


Examples include hoshimato, kasumimato, sanshokumato (三色的), iro mato for long-distance shooting, iwari, etc. The sizes vary from 1 m to 8 cm in diameter.

Straw butt

Bundled straw
A target for training

* There are arrows made especially for straw butt.

Kyudo dojo

As a general rule, for the sake of safety Kyudo should be performed in a dedicated dojo. Currently, there are more than 1,400 public and private Kyudo dojo in Japan, and in some cases temporary dojo are built in gymnasiums, etc., with due attention to safety. Kyudo dojo are categorized as kyudo dojo for regular close-range shooting or kyudo dojo for long-distance shooting, and the number of people who can face the target (the number of targets to be placed) varies from one to 15 or more, depending on the size of the dojo.

Kyudo dojo for regular close-range shooting

The distance from the shooting position (archer) to the target is 28 m, and normally a target 36 cm in diameter is used. Matoba, which houses a dirt hillock and the targets, has dirt piled to form a slope to prevent damage to arrows, and this is called Azuchi. Most Kyudo dojo in junior high school to college are of this kind, as are public and private dojo, and regular training is done in the Kyudo dojo for close-range shooting. Because it's relatively easy to obtain the floor space, many archers build simple dojo for one to two persons in their own homes.

Kyudo dojo for long-distance shooting

Generally, the distance from the shooting position to the target is 60 m, and normally a target 1 m in diameter is used. Because a large area is required, there aren't many designated Kyudo dojo for long-distance shooting. There is no Azuchi with piled dirt in the Matoba. Most are built next to a Kyudo dojo for the regular close-range shooting, and today, due to space limitations, there are dojo built across two floors, such as the Kyudo dojo in Tokyo Budoh-Kan, or those that are also used for archery.


For training and matches, a Kyudo uniform is worn, while for formal occasions (Jarai, Shukuga shakai (the celebration ceremony of shooting, Hono shakai (the dedication ceremony of shooting), etc.) or when receiving reviews for high dan-i and award titles, traditional Japanese clothing is worn. However, those with low dan-i can always wear Kyudo uniforms. Additionally, the hitatare (a kind of court dress in old days), kariginu (informal clothes worn by Court nobles) and kamishimo (samurai costume, old ceremonial costume), etc., are worn for special ceremonies.

The Kyudo uniform

The top is a kimono with snug-fitting white sleeves. The hakama (a pleated and divided skirt made in fine stripes) is in black or navy, and men wear machi (horse-riding) hakama while women wear either machi hakama or andon hakama without the koshiita (back plate). The hakama is put on after an obi (kimono sash). Shirotabi (white Japanese socks) are worn. In major competitions involving the All Nippon Kyudo Federation, men and women must wear kimono with snug-fitting white sleeves, black hakama and shirotabi.

Traditional Japanese clothing

Officially, men wear black nagagi (full-length garments) with five family crests and striped hakama, and women wear black or color tomesode (formal dress patterned only below the waistline, as worn by a married woman) with family crests and machi hakama, following the code for traditional Japanese clothing; but there are no rules and often different clothing is worn. As a special case, women sometimes wear furisode (a type of long-sleeve kimono) in the memorial ceremony of shooting on Coming-of-Age Day. The haori (a Japanese half-coat) isn't worn during shooting. A white tabi is used. Men remove the left sleeve and shoot with bare skin visible on one side (hadanugi). Women put on a tasuki (a cord used to tuck up the sleeves of a kimono). In either case, the manners of movement are specified. Hadanugi and the use of tasuki are to avoid flapping the left sleeve with the string.

Style of match

The commonly used game rules of the All Nippon Kyudo Federation are described here. Meanwhile, the Kyudo Federation of Students Association (Zengakuren) is an independent organization that is not affiliated with the All Nippon Kyudo Federation, and the matches arranged by Zengakuren and their affiliated local federations may be different from the below (refer to the Kyudo Federation of Students Association for details).

Athletic events

The following two events are held:
Individual games and team games are played.

Kinteki (short-distance target) game

Shooting range: 28 m; target: kasumimato, hoshimato or iro mato (refer to Target (Kyudo)), 36 cm in diameter
Sometimes for decision matches, a target 24 cm in diameter is used.

Enteki (long-distance shooting) game

Shooting range: 60 m; target: kasumimato or point target, 100 cm in diameter
Sometimes for decision matches, a kasumimato 79 cm or 50 cm in diameter is used.

(The fifty-third through fifty-seventh All Japan Kyudo Enteki championships were performed with a 30 m shooting range and 36 cm target diameter as well.)

The game method

The archer takes two shots (hitote (literally, "one hand") or four shots (futate (literally, "two hands") (in the case of izumekyosha, one shot). For regular shooting, toriya must be performed.

The bull's-eye system

Compete based on the number of bull's-eyes. It is judged by 'hit' or 'miss' only, making no distinction as to where it hits the target.
The following are 'hits' (specified in Article 36 of the Kyudo game rules), and others are 'misses.'

1. The arrow hits the target and stays there.

2. The arrow hits the target and goes through it.

3. If the arrow breaks, the side with the arrowhead is within the target.

4. The arrow digs into an arrow on the target.

5. The arrow hits the seam of the circular wooden frame of the mato (target) or stands on the circular wooden frame of the mato.

6. The arrow penetrates the inside of the target ring and out of the circular wooden frame of the mato.

7. The target falls when hit by the arrow, but the arrow remains on the target.

8. The arrow that hit is touching the ground.

9. A missed arrow on the surface of the target is hit.

Point system

Iro mato (point target) is used to compete on points. When the score is tied, the number of hits is considered. It's used in the enteki games in national competition and kinteki games for businessmen.

Scoring system

The judges score based not only on hits but also on shooting form, elegance in shooting and behavior. It's used in the All Japan Men's Kyudo Championship and the All Japan Women's Kyudo Championship.


The manners specified by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation are centered around the manners of the Ogasawara school. In this regard, the manners for samurai families were divided in two categories from around the time of the Muromachi bakufu; the Ise clan served the various internal (inside of the palace) manners, while the Ogasawara clan managed all the external (outside) manners for martial arts.

Comparison with archery

Archery (Yokyu (Western-style archery)) was once under the jurisdiction of the All Nippon Kyudo Federation as the 'Yokyu Division,' and in 1958 it became a member of the Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc (FITA). However, upon requests from domestic archery organizations, and due to the crushing defeat of the archers of Japanese bow who participated in the 24th world championship in 1967, they transferred the FITA membership to the All Japan Archery Federation in 1968 and ended their involvement in Yokyu.

Technically, archery uses the 'Mediterranean style,' in which the arrow is fixed on the left side of the bow (as viewed from the body) and the string is drawn with the index, middle and third fingers of the right hand, while Kyudo uses the 'Menggu (Mongol) style,' in which the arrow is fixed on the right side of the bow and torikake (gripping of the bowstring with the right hand) is maintained by hooking the string with the base of the right thumb (see the comparison with archery of foreign countries in Kyujutsu). Additionally, archery in Japan adopts Kyudo's Shaho hassetsu.

1. Stance (setting the feet), 2. Set (setting the body), 3. Nocking (readying the arrow), 4. Setup (raising the bow), 5. Drawing (drawing apart the bow), 6. Full draw (full draw), 7. Release (release), 8. Follow through (remaining spirit).

In terms of tools, Kyudo and archery are essentially the same, but while in archery many supplementary tools (stabilizer, sight (sighting device), clicker, etc.) are attached to the bow (depending on the athletic event), the Japanese bow is basically a bow and string. In archery, there are bows for both the left and right hand, but in Kyudo the bows are basically only for the left hand (in Kyudo, the bow is held in the left hand and the string is drawn with the right hand).

In terms of rules, Kyudo doesn't allow the arrow to be returned to its original position in a match, and the arrow that is dropped before shooting is disqualified as 'shitsu' (an error).

[Original Japanese]