‘Yabusame’ (horseback archery) competitions can be seen across Japan, but opportunities to try it are rare. For a unique cultural experience, try yabusame for yourself and wear an archer's costume. You can also opt to take a beachside horse ride.
Yabusame, traditional Japanese mounted archery, goes back to the 6th century. In ancient times, it served as both a military skill and a Shinto ritual to entertain the gods and to pray for the community's well-being. Yabusame as we know it today was developed in the Kamakura period (1185–1333). With archers on horseback having only a few seconds to shoot three stationary targets, this traditional art is difficult — but also very exciting to watch. These days, you can watch a yabusame competition at festivals across Japan. It’s still closely tied to Shinto rituals, so most competitions are held at shrines. But because training for yabusame is intense, opportunities to experience it are extremely rare. In this experience at a riding club in Munakata, Fukuoka, you'll enjoy the rare opportunity to try yabusame for yourself. You'll practice archery, then horse riding, before making your debut as a yabusame archer. Feel the adrenaline rush as you fire arrows at your targets while riding a galloping horse. You can also wear a yabusame archer’s costume for an extra fee. Alternatively, take a beachside horse ride instead. You'll take your pick from the riding club's friendly horses, get a brief riding lesson, then ride by the gorgeous, tranquil beach. Both options include plenty of photo and video opportunities, so you can take home wonderful memories of your experience.