How can I experience traditional Japanese archery without being icky?
October 20, 2022 5:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a trip to Tokyo and I'm curious about traditional Japanese archery. As an archer myself, I bring some common interests and respect for the activity. As a white American, I bring blechhhh and acquisitiveness. Please advise.

I see people on-line offering tours of a "kyūdō experience," but I don't want to dress up and pose for photos and be unpleasant. On the other hand, I would love to actually learn the technique, watch skilled archers, and try it myself. Is there anywhere in Tokyo (or possibly Kyoto) where I can learn more about traditional Japanese archery?

Adding to the difficulty: I don't speak Japanese.
posted by The corpse in the library to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Contacting American Kyudo Renmei ("an organization devoted to the instruction and practice of Kyudo, traditional Japanese archery") could be a good first step:

They have local federations so you can most likely visit one near to you for more information.
posted by anadem at 7:22 PM on October 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The All Nippon Kyudo Federation says if you want to watch a practice (見学 - kengaku) that you should contact the nearest kyudo dojo to you on their map. Tokyo Kyudo Federation has a contact form for people who want to visit a kyudo dojo, but says that many places aren't taking new students or allowing visitors because of covid (no idea when this was last updated - things may have changed? who knows). Neither of these look to be very prepared to handle English inquiries.

Honestly I think your best bet might be to look for an experience like this. I get that you don't want to "be icky" but if you're respectful of the practice and are really interested in it, you'll be fine. I work as an interpreter at an iado experience in Kyoto, and we exist because we want people to be able to explore this part of the culture that would otherwise be difficult for them to access. We want to share this experience, and to talk to people about traditional arts and have other people appreciate them. Look through listings on Airbnb or Tripadvisor or wherever and read reviews, look for something that matches the atmosphere you want.

Also, after having two years of very few or no visitors, the people offering these experiences are probably desperate for people to come. The last two years have been very, very hard for the Japanese tourism industry.
posted by emmling at 2:49 AM on October 21, 2022 [12 favorites]

If you have a lot of extra funds and happen to be in Kyoto, then Women's Association of Kyoto has private lessons. They're very expensive, but perhaps cheaper in a group.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:54 AM on October 21, 2022

If you're coming down to Kansai, you could take a day trip to Nara and do this Kyudo experience.
posted by emmling at 6:56 PM on October 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

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