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Yabusame horse archery ritual gallops ahead at Kyoto shrine for 1st time in 3 yrs

A mounted archer hits a target with an arrow during the yabusame ritual at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward, on May 3, 2022. (Mainichi/Kazuki Yamazaki)=Click/tap photo for more images.

KYOTO -- The "yabusame" mounted archery ritual was held at a shrine here in Japan's ancient capital on May 3 for the first time in three years.

    The event was held at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward to pray for safety of the Aoi Festival, one of the city's three major festivals. Archers dressed like court aristocrats and samurai warriors and riding galloping horses released arrows in the Tadasu-no-mori forest on the shrine grounds. Spectators applauded loudly as the arrows struck the cedarwood targets, each about 50 centimeters on a side.

    The Aoi Festival's "Roto-no-gi" event, in which people in Heian period (794-1185) court costume parade in the city, has been canceled for the third year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic. But about 800 paying spectators -- down from 1,400 in a usual year -- were allowed to see the first yabusame ritual since 2019.

    (Japanese original by Kazuki Yamazaki, Osaka Photo Department)

    In Photos: Mounted archery ritual held to pray for safety of Kyoto festival

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