Kusajishi-shiki Traditional Archery
Held each year in November, Kusajishi-shiki is a traditional event in which archers dressed in ceremonial robes shoot at a target in the shape of a deer. Performed by the Ogasawara-ryu, a traditional school of archery and etiquette, this tradition has its roots in the Kamakura period (1185-1333).
After a poor performance hunting one day, Minamoto no Yoritomo noticed that his men weren’t able effectively to hit a moving deer with an arrow. Yoritomo asked his retainer, Ogasawara Nagakiyo, how to shoot moving deer more effectively and was told “gather grass together and make a target in the shape of a deer, then practice shooting it while riding your horse”.
Yoritomo’s men practiced on foot at first, then on horseback, and when they eventually went hunting for real deer they found that were able to strike the target almost every time. The practice became known as kusajishi – literally a deer made of grass.
Over the years the shooting from horseback came to be replaced by shooting on foot. The practice became known as Kusajishi-shiki, and it has been passed down the Ogasawara family until the present day.