Yabusame was designed as a way to please and entertain the myriad of gods that watch over Japan, thus encouraging their blessings for the prosperity of the land, the people, and the harvest.
A yabusame archer gallops down a 255-meter-long track at high speed. The archer mainly controls his horse with his knees, as he needs both hands to draw and shoot his bow.
As he approaches a target, he brings his bow up and draws the arrow past his ear before letting the arrow fly with a deep shout of In-Yo-In-Yo (darkness and light). The arrow is blunt and round-shaped in order to make a louder sound when it strikes the board.
Experienced archers are allowed to use arrows with a V-shaped prong. If the board is struck, it will splinter with a confetti-like material and fall to the ground. To hit all three targets is considered an admirable accomplishment. Yabusame targets and their placement are designed to ritually replicate the optimum target for a lethal blow on an opponent wearing full traditional samurai armor (O-Yoroi) which left the space just beneath the helmet visor bare.
Yabusame is characterized as a ritual rather than a sport because of its solemn style and religious aspects, and is often performed for special ceremonies or official events, such as entertaining foreign dignitaries and heads of state.
Read about it and watch the videos here: http://amoderngirl.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/yabusame-the-japanese-art-of-mounted-archery/
Now, where’s my kishagasa?