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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Busha sai
Sacred Archery Festival or Foot Archery Festival (depending on the Chinese characters used to write the name). An archery rite held on March 17 at Hotaka Shrine (Hotaka jinja) in Hotaka Town, Azumi County, Nagano Prefecture. Three bows strung with hemp are used. Fourteen arrows are used: two with written prayers attached, one called the Arrow of the kami, the other called the Arrow of the Lord. The target is of wood bound into a circle and covered with paper, with three circles drawn on it. After the ceremonies, the Arrow of the kami is shot into the northeast and then the Arrow of the Lord is shot towards the southeast. Twelve arrows are then shot at the target. The prospects for a good or bad agricultural season are divined from the success or failure to hit the target.
       There is a foot archers festival (busha sai) on January 15 at Shika-no-Umi Shrine (Shikanoumi jinja) at Shika Island in Higashi Ward, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Eight men called the Assembly of Archers (iteshi) put on the formal robes of the classical period and in order each perform a fan (ōgi) dance at the Ceremonial Hall (haiden). It is said to be a dance in the seinō (thin man) style. Afterwards, in unison they offer up small cloths with both hands, stand and chant. This is called ōgibome (the appreciation by fan) . Next there is a ceremony where they circle the shrine precincts (keidai) three times, with the leader carrying the target. The eight men of the Assembly of Archers each shoot two arrows three times at the target. When they are finished, they say "tear up the target" And it is pulled apart with the onlookers scrambling for the pieces as talismans for warding off demons. In many houses a rite called ya-barai (purification by arrow) is also carried out.
       There is a religious archery event called Hōsha shiki on January 10 and 12 at Matsu-no-o Great Shrine (Matsu-no-o taisha) in Ukyō ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. Nusa (ritual paper streamers) are placed in front of the Nō stage and archery targets are hung up. On the back of these targets is written the Chinese character Oni or demon. Food offerings (shinsen) in the old style are offered. The archers take up the bows and arrows. First they shoot the bows in the ushi-tora (northeast) direction, then to the four quarters, then heavenwards. After they have shot at the target, the shrine officials (shinshoku) shoot arrows.
       There is a bushasai (Warrior Archery Festival) on January 4 at the Chūgūshi of Mt. Futara Shrine (Futara-san jinja) in Nikkō City, Tochigi Prefecture. Based on the legend that holds that the deities of Mt. Futara and Mt. Akagi fought, shrine officials shoot arrows in the direction of Mt. Akagi.
       There is a religious event on January 8 at Samukawa Shrine (Samukawa jinja) in Samukawa City, Kōza County, Kanagawa Prefecture. It is called the Musayumi Festival. Red and white curtains are hung in one corner of the shrine grounds with an ancient-style target placed there. The shrine officials chant divine songs, and three arrows are shot to divine the prospects for the coming year.
       There is a Sacred Archery Festival on January 17 at Mishima Shrine (Mishima taisha) in Mishima City, Shizuoka Prefecture. Also called the Rite of the Great Target. Six archers shoot arrows at the target. It is said that in the Kamakura period yabusame, or mounted archery was performed.
       There is a Sacred Archery Festival at Tsushima Shrine (Tsushima jinja) in Tsushima City, Aichi Prefecture. It is held on the sixteenth day of the first month of the old lunar calendar. Gohei (ritual paper streamers) are placed on top of the targets and the shrine's administrative head (gūji) looses arrows at the heavens and earth. Six archers shoot in pairs, with each loosing a pair of arrows. The bows are made of willow with strings of hemp. The religious food offerings (shinsen) of this festival are called Flower Mountain Food Offerings because of their uniqueness: there are many types of mochi, potatoes, Japanese radishes, fruit, marine foodstuffs, dried shark, dried octopus, flakes of dry bonito, small carp and other types of fish, all piled up on a special standing tray (sanbō) with a tree branch stuck in it and special skewers (shibe-gushi) inserted.
       There is a Sacred Archery Festival on January 7 at Mononobe Shrine (Mononobe jinja) in Ōda City, Shimane Prefecture. Near the torii (ceremonial shrine gate) the archery target stand is set up, and on this is placed a red ritual baton (heisoku) with a white baton to the right and a blue baton to the left. The target, large bow, and arrows are placed as offerings before the kami and fourteen archers seat themselves at the Ceremonial Hall (haiden). The chief priest (gūji) performs the harae (purifications) and the shrine officials write in large letters on the back of the target the Chinese character for demon (oni). The shrine officials and archers line up before the target, making offerings and scattering rice, chanting rituals prayers (norito), and then split into two groups of seven, standing on the left and right. In the beginning, there is an opening ceremony where there is ritual chanting of agotsu (miss) and atari (hit). The archers then test their skill. Two archers, one from the right and one from the left, shoot two arrows each, repeating this action twice.
       There is a Foot Archers Festival on January 7 at Nitta Shrine (Nitta jinja) in Miyauchi Town, Sendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture. With the target at the head, a procession circles the shrine thrice counterclockwise. The procession then goes down the stone steps of the entrance path, ringing the bells and drums in front of the related shrines (massha) of the Eastern Gate Guard Shrine and Western Gate Guard Shrine that are to the left and right of the path. Here two archers each shoot three arrows at the target. Then archers bearing larger bows cross the divine bridge, go towards the target, and shoot arrows at it.
See also Busha matsuri

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