In the time that has passed since 1147 and now, almost no traditions have withstood the test of time and remained perfectly in tact. Wether through being lost in translation, outdated or downright forgotten, almost all rituals across all walks of life have succumbed to some sort of evolution. That being said, Japanese horseback archery, or ‘Yabusame’ is not one of those things.
Yabusame originated as a way of preparing samurai for warfare, and most certainly was not a game or any kind of extra curricular pastime. With deep ties to the Japanese Shinto religion, attending a Yabusame event is the closest you’ll probably ever get to meeting a real life samurai.
The parameters of Yabusame are (relatively) simple. An archer on horseback gallops down a roped-off track around a tenth of a mile long, and without stopping or losing speed, fires three arrows from a six-foot long bow at three separate targets, all spaced about 200 feet apart. The whole ordeal is about 20 seconds long and is scored according to how many targets are hit. For an example and more history on Yabusame, check out the videos below: