Heading to the next target (Photo: Rey Waters)

Zushi Yabusame and Yokohama Jazz

Yabusame, jazz, and noodles

Heading to the next target (Photo: Rey Waters)
Rey Waters   - 4 min read

Whether you are visiting Japan or live here there is always something to do even on a chilly cloudy fall day.

One was a short trip to Zushi, about 90 minutes from Tokyo to see “Kassai” (Mounted Archers). Back in the Kamakura Era the samurai held a peace event of target shooting while riding on a fast horse, known as Yabusame..

After WWII the U.S. military from Yokosuka base were given a presentation as a peace gesture. They liked it so much that several base personnel joined the Yabusame School, to learn this tradition and take part in the event.

In 1948 the city of Zushi began hosting the annual Yabusame event as a declaration of friendship between Japan and the U.S.

A parade begins at Kamegaoka Hachimangu Shrine, here in Zushi. We arrived just as it finished, but were able to see small children dressed in beautiful costumes shooting arrows at targets along the street. I was impressed at how accurate some of the youngsters were.

Then we walked over to the beach for the main event. Last year we attended the Yabusame, but due to the huge crowds I was not able to get close enough to take any good pictures. This time we made sure to arrive early and position ourselves just behind those sitting on the ground along the course.

Many non-Japanese were dressed in era costumes and participated in the ceremonies.

Just off-shore were windsurfers making the background picturesque.

As part of the ceremony there were three groups of Taiko drummers who played and danced on the beach.

Then mounted archers walked their horses behind a procession along the course. There were announcements in both Japanese and English.

After the opening speeches the action began as the archers rode their horses at a gallop while shooting arrows at three targets along the path.

The mounted archers consisted of four men and a lady. We were told the fifth horse was a racehorse and it was evident by his speed, the archer had to be really fast with pulling his arrows.

The first ride through they shot at a bull’s eye with circles on it, Next was a balsa type wood that splits when hit and finally a clay target that only breaks up from a center shot.

It was fun listening to the crowd ugh and awe when a target was hit and also when it was missed.

The event takes place near the end of November and is one you want to attend. From Yokohama station take the Yokosuka line to Zushi and the beach is a ten-minute walk.

So what does Jazz have to with this Yabusame? Nothing, it was just another part of our Sunday area activities.

In early October 1993 Yokohama began an annual Jazz Promenade. This event draws 300 jazz professional and amateur groups from all over the world. They play on 50 different stages both indoor and outdoors around the bay area during a two-day period. I attended the past two years and learned of additional upcoming jazz concerts.

One being Sunday November 22nd at the Applause club in the Kannai area of Yokohama, where 13 different amateur groups will perform between 12:15 and 18:40. My brother-in-law, Yoshi, is a drummer for one of the groups (LUA) and whenever he performs I try to attend. I like jazz and the musicians are really good.

To attend one of these concerts, visit the Yokohama events page www.yokohamajapan.com/events/ , or look up the various jazz clubs located throughout the city.

When the concert was over we headed back towards Kannai station and found Tokamura Chinese restaurant for some noodles. One of my favorite dishes is Tantanmen and this restaurant did not disappoint. The cost was very reasonable at 2065 yen (16.75 USD) for two noodle dishes and a draft beer. Their phone number is 045-662-1088.

While on your Japan trip, make sure you check out all the activities available in the Yokohama area. There is something for everyone and many are not heavily advertised, so it is good to do some advance research, especially on the japantravel.com web page.

Rey Waters

Rey Waters @rey.waters

Born in the U.S.A. - Worked 30 years in executive management high tech Industry, owned a management consulting firm and a wildlife art publishing company.  In 2012 completed the Ultimate Travel Writer’s course and published my first article Tower Hopping in Japan with Travel Post Monthly.  Since ...