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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Performing Arts
Busha matsuri
A sacred archery ritual which takes place mostly at New Year. It can be written with the characters 殊纪 or 属纪 and has pronunciation variants such as bisha, hōsha and is practiced widely in shrines in all regions. Unlike mounted archery, the bowman is on foot and is called a kachiyumi. In the Heian period court, it was a public ritual held at the beginning of the year. The jarai ritual was held in the seventeenth day of the first month, and this was followed on the morning of the eighteenth day by the noriyumi archery competition. Furthermore, in the Ryō-no-gige, busha is referred as a military art. The court jarai declined and ultimately died out from the Kamakura period, but it was continued at the Taisha in many regions. For example, in the document Suwa Daimyōjin ekotoba, there is a record of a jarai being carried out at Suwa Taisha on the seventeenth day of the first month, and at other times. Busha carried out at shrines are sacred rituals performed as a toshiura, intended to divine good and bad fortune for the whole year, and also as a kitō, or prayer to ward off bad spirits. The practice has long been known at Atsuta Jingū and Kamo Wake Ikazuchi Jinja. At Kyoto's Ōharano Jinja, a busha is performed as a miyaza ritual in the Oyumi matsuri (bow festival). The family that performs this ritual is called the oyumi kabu. In the bisha festival at Kuzugaya Goryō Jinja in Shinjuku (Tokyo), prior to the obisha itself, there are various solemn rituals carried out in front of the haiden, such as offering sake. The use of a large target seems to have been customary since ancient times. The target has concentric circles, or in some places the character oni (devil) is written upon it. The targets used at the Kuzugaya Goryō Jinja, and the Nakai Goryō Jinja bisha festivals, are characterized by having two birds with outstretched wings facing each other painted on the target. The term bisha can be written as 洒纪, 洒颊 or 若颊. Yumi kitō, mato-i, momote are alternative names for busha. See also bushasai (written as 属纪鹤 or 殊纪鹤).

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