Mato (kyudo [Japanese archery]) (的 (弓道))

Mato refers to a target used in kyudo and other Japanese archery arts. At present the competition rules provided by All Nippon Kyudo Federation (hereinafter referred to as the competition rules) specify the official types of mato and the installation procedures. The types of mato and their installation procedures somewhat slightly varied depending on schools, regions, and dojo (halls for martial art training) in the past, and there were more types of mato than at present. Even now they do not always follow the competition rules unless the federation is involved.


A mato used in kinteki (regular close-range shooting) competitions consists of a 'matowaku,' which is a circular frame made by fixing a wooden strip, and a matogami (paper target face) attached on one side of the matowaku. A wooden matowaku can easily have a warp and damage, and players have a difficulty in pulling out an arrow which gets stuck in a seam, where both the ends of a wooden strip are fixed; besides, it sometimes hurts the arrows. Therefore matowaku made of plywood and seamless matowaku are also available in recent years. The material of matogami is mainly paper, as its name represents, but vinyl ones have been developed recently and they have rapidly become popular especially in school kyudo because of some advantages such as durability.

A typical mato used in enteki (long-distance shooting) competitions is a circular tatami (straw mat) settled on a platform with a matogami attached on it.


In kinteki, a mato should be placed against an azuchi (target bank) which is 28 meters away from the shai (the position at where a player shoots an arrow, and it should be at the center of the body) at a 5-degree angle backward, and its center should be 27 centimeters above the ground (it has to be level with the archery ground). The mato is settled on the azuchi supported by a kogushi (also known as gogushi), a stick in a sasumata (weapon with a U-shaped metal prong attached to the end of a wooden stick) shape.

In enteki, a mato is settled at a place which is 60 meters away from the shai at a 15-degree angle backward, and the center of the mato is 97 centimeters above the ground.

Mato for kinteki

A mato of 36 centimeters in diameter is commonly used in kinteki competitions. A length of 36 centimeters is equivalent to one shaku (approximately 30.03 centimeters) and two sun (approximately 6.06 centimeters), which are the size of a traditional mato. Although the competition rules specify the size in a centimeter unit, it is also generally called 'shaku-ni' (also referred as 'shaku-ni mato,' which stands for mato in one shaku and two sun). A mato of 24 centimeters in diameter (which is equivalent to eight sun, and this is called hassun or hassun mato, meaning eight sun) is sometimes used in an izume (a competition in which a shooter who misses the target is excluded) game for a tiebreaker.

There are three matoe (pattern of a mato face) types: Kasumi-mato (which literally means "mist target"), hoshi-mato (which literally means "star target"), and iro-mato (also referred as tokuten-mato, which literally means "color [points] target"). The competition rules designate kasumi-mato and hoshi-mato as the target types for tekichu-sei (which literally means "accuracy system," in which a decision is made based on the number of hits) games, but kasumi-mato is generally used among adults, junior high, and senior high school students. Players in college and university kyudo are instructed to use hoshi-mato by the rules established by Student Kyudo Association. Tokuten-mato is adopted in corporate kyudo.

In general kyudo competitions which use kasumi-mato or hoshi-mato, 'atari' (hit) and 'hazure' (miss) are the only decisions, no matter which area of the mato an arrow hits on (refer to the section of Competition in Kyudo for further details).

This is a mato painted in the following manner from inner to outer; nakashiro (inner white circle with radius 3.6 centimeters), ichi no kuro (the first black ring with a width of 3.6 centimeters), ni no shiro (the second white ring with a width of 3.0 centimeters), ni no kuro (the second black ring with a width of 1.5 centimeters), san no shiro (the third white ring with a width of 3.0 centimeters), and sotokuro (outer black ring with a width of 3.3 centimeters). Although this type of mato was originally for formal ceremonies, this is now commonly used except for college and university kyudo. The center white circle is also called seikoku (正鵠 in Japanese), and the phrase "seikoku o eru" (hit the bull's-eye) represents hitting on the very center of a mato (both '正' and '鵠' mean target).

This is a white mato with a black circle with a radius of six centimeters in the center, which is specially called hoshi (star). It is said the term "zuboshi" (the bull's-eye or the mark) is derived from this. This is an informal style mato, and it is used in the competitions of college and university kyudo.

This is used in corporate competitions. Gold is in the center, followed by green, red, and white; 10 points are allotted to gold, 7 to green, 5 to red, and 3 to white, respectively.

Mato for enteki

Enteki competitions consist of the tekichu-sei and the tokuten-sei (point system), and both the systems use a mato with a diameter of 100 centimeters. The matoe for tekichu-sei is triple black rings, the same pattern as kasumi-mato for kinteki, and the one for tokuten-sei is the same as target archery (the size of a whole mato and the point allocation are different). A kasumi-mato of 79 centimeters (this size is equivalent to a traditional han-mato [literally, "half mato"]) or 50 centimeters in diameter is sometimes used for izume games.


Nakashiro with radius 11 centimeters, ichi no kuro with a width of 10 centimeters, ni no shiro with a width of 8 centimeters, ni no kuro with a width of 4 centimeters, san no shiro with a width of 8 centimeters, and sotokuro with a width of 9 centimeters.


A gold (or yellow) circle with a radius of 10 centimeters is in the center (10 points), and the other rings are with a width of 10 centimeters. 10 points are allotted to gold, 9 to red, 7 to blue, 5 to black, and 3 to white, respectively.


Special shooting ceremonies and entertainment games in special events sometimes use various matoe, a connection of various sized mato, a board, and so on.

A kin-teki (literally, "gold target") is a mato with a matowaku of three sun (approximately 9.09 centimeters) in diameter, pasted gold paper on it. It is used for entertainment games.

A sen-teki (literally, "folding fan target") is used in shooting ceremonies held all over Tochigi Prefecture according to NASU no Yoichi's story of the Battle of Yashima. It is in the shape of a 90-degree opened folding fan. When a ceremony is held in a kyudo hall, players use a folding fan-shaped frame whose radius is 36 centimeters with paper put on it. A little bigger mato made of tinplate is settled on a pole and it is held up high on a boat when players shoot arrows toward a lake or a river, and so they should aim upward.

A hana-mato (literally, "flower target") is a mato of four sun and five bu (approximately 27.27 centimeters), in diameter, with a matogami painted patterns of 12 month derived from hanafuda (Japanese floral playing cards).

Ji-mato (地的)
A ji-mato (literally, "ground target") is a circle drawn on the ground, and players regard this as a mato and shoot arrows upward so they pass overhead describing a parabola. The shooters cannot see the mato. This needs a large safe place.

Inagashi (the flight style of shooting in which the target is removed)
It does not have actual mato. Players should shoot an arrow as far as they can. This needs a quite large and safe place.

Traditional mato

O-mato (literally, "big mato")
An o-mato is a formal mato for busha (to shoot an arrow while walking), and this type had been commonly used until the current style of shaku-ni mato (also known as komato, the regular size mato for kinteki) became popular. Its diameter is five shaku and two sun (approximately 158 centimeters), and its matoe is the same as that of kasumi-mato. This should be hung vertically to be used. This was used for mato-hajime, which is the New Year's ceremony of shooting at a samurai family, and this is still used in ceremonies of the Ogasawara school.

A han-mato is a mato whose diameter is two shaku and six sun (approximately 78.8 centimeters), which is a half of the diameter of an omato.

In addition, busha ceremonies such as San-San-Ku Tebasami Shiki (a solemn archery ceremony which was originally held on January 4), Buri-Buri Shiki (the ceremony which is usually held after San-San-Ku Tebasami Shiki or the yumi-hajime [the first shooting ceremony held on January 17]), Kusajishi Shiki (Japanese archery ritual), and Marumono (a simplified style shooting ceremony held for prayer) use their own style mato.
Also, people sometimes make their mato by putting various things such as kaishi (Japanese tissue), a shoe, a leaf, earthenware, and a short sward between two sticks, and such mato are called 'hasamimono.'
A real warrior helmet is sometimes used as a mato, and this is called 'katamoto inuki.'

[Original Japanese]