Wednesday, April 22, 2009

whoah, horsey

whoah, originally uploaded by MaryanneB.
On Sunday we went to Kamakura to see horseback archery (yabusame). There was a huge crowd on both sides of the course, a dirt path running across the grounds of the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine. We were watching from a spot close to the finish line, so in most of our photos, the samurai have already taken their shots at two (or is it three?) separate targets, while galloping at top speed, and are trying to grab hold of the reins to slow down the horse. Lots of "aah"s and "OH!"s from spectators as many arrows missed their mark. (We wondered how the participants would handle the shame...) Before the event began, an announcer advised the crowd not to use flash photography, because the flash could "agitate the horses" and cause them to "stray into the crowd." Hmm. Think she meant "stampede." In any case, there was no straying. The horses stayed the course, though in some cases they came to an abrupt stop at the far end, right in front of a shrine gate, which was covered by a big white sheet. We kept expecting one of them to break through but none did. It was all very dramatic.

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