Yabusame-Shinji of Shimogamo Shrine (May 3rd, 2024)

Yabusame-Shinji of Shimogamo Shrine

Yabusame-Shinji of Shimogamo Shrine is presented here. Yabusame-Shinji is held every year on May 3rd at Shimogamo Shrine. In Yabusame-Shinji, the roadsides are purified so that Aoi Matsuri festival can be held safely and peacefully. Three targets are set up in the baba (horse field) of Tadasu-no-Mori Forest and ite (archers) shoot arrows from the running horse to aim at the targets.

【Yabusame-Shinji 2024 Schedule (confirmation required)】

Yabusame-Shinji will be held on Friday, May 3rd, 2024 from 13:00 to 15:30. After Yabusame-Shinji from 13:00, the procession of yabusame will enter the baba (horse field) of Tadasu-no-Mori Forest around 13:40 and yabusame will be performed from around 14:00. (The event will be held even in light rain.)
Aoi Matsuri Festival 2024

【Shimogamo Shrine Location Map & Directions】

Address: 59 Izumigawa-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Shimogamojinja-mae bus stop (short walk), Keihan Demachiyanagi Station (about 10 minutes on foot)

【Yabusame-Shinji brief overview】

Yabusame-Shinji (流鏑馬神事) of Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社) is held every year on May 3rd as the zen-gi (preliminary event) of Aoi Matsuri Festival (葵祭) Roto-no-gi (路頭の儀, Period Procession), which is held every year on May 15th. (In case of bad weather, Roto-no-gi is postponed to the next day, the 16th.) In Yabusame-Shinji, the roadsides are purified so that Aoi Matsuri festival can be held safely and peacefully. Yabusame (horseback archery) formerly called kisha and has been practiced since ancient times. The “Shoku-nihongi”, an imperial history book compiled in the early Heian period (794-1185), states that Yabusame (kisha) was banned in 698 because of the large number of spectators who gathered to watch the event.
In Yabusame-Shinji, Hokoku-sai (Honden-sai) is first held at Honden (Main Shrine), and after Hokoku-sai is over, ite (archers) enter the baba (horse field) of Tadasu-no-Mori Forest, after which Yabusame begins. At Yabusame, three targets are set up on a 500-meter-long baba (horse field) in Tadasu-no-Mori Forest, and ite (archers) dressed as court nobles or samurai costumes shoot arrows from the running horse with the call of “In-Yo” to aim at the target. In Yabusame, five horses run four times each. (The number of horses and the number of Yabusame may vary.) The size of the target is 45 cm, the distance from the horse to the target is about 1.80 meters and the targets are placed every 100 meters. In Yabusame, the targets are given (for a fee) as good luck for a good harvest and the fulfillment of wishes. (Confirmation required).
In Yabusame, the various roles arrive at their designated places, Babamoto-yaku at the starting point raises his ohgi (fan), and Babasue-yaku at the goal responds by raising his ohgi (fan). The first ite (archer) raises his ohgi (fan) high in the air, and with the call of “In-Yo”, he starts off, shoots the first target, immediately draws an arrow from his quiver (ebira) and places it on his bow, and shoots the second and third targets as well.
★Yabusame is said to be called Yabusame because it shoots with arrows (kaburaya) in rapid succession. Yabusame is also said to be a corruption of Yahasemuma. According to the “Shoku-nihongi”, Yabusame was already practiced at Shimogamo Shrine as early as the 7th century. It was temporarily suspended during during the Meiji period (1868-1912), but was restored in 1973. Currently, Yabusame is served by Kyubajutsu Reiho Ogasawara-ryu.
★Kyubajutsu Reiho Ogasawara-ryu (Ogasawara School) is a school of samurai tradition, archery, horsemanship, and etiquette of the Kyoto Ogasawara clan, a vassal of the Muromachi Shogunate. Archery and horsemanship were founded by Ogasawara Nagakiyo, a vassal of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the 1st Shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate, and was perfected by Ogasawara Sadamune. The etiquette was established by Ogasawara Nagahide, who taught Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the 3rd Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, and wrote the etiquette book “Sangi-Itto”.
★According to Kyubajutsu Reiho Ogasawara-ryu (Ogasawara school), the call (yagoe) of “In-Yo (陰陽)” is believed to correspond to the universe and, by extension, to the gods themselves. Ogasawara Nagakiyo, the founder of Ogasawara-ryu, was a samurai of the Kamakura period (1185-1333) who incorporated Onmyo-do (陰陽道) into his ideology, and Ogasawara-ryu is based on Onmyo-do. Furthermore, Onmyo-do is the philosophy that everything in the universe is based on the balance and circulation of two opposing forces, such as “In (陰)” and “Yo (陽)”, “Light” and “Shadow”.

【Shimogamo Shrine History】
Shimogamo Shrine is officially called Kamo Mioya Shrine. Shimogamo Shrine is said to have originated during the reign of the first Emperor Jinmu (660 B.C.-582 B.C.), when the deity Kamo-Taketsunumi-no-mikoto descended on Mt. Mikage-yama, located at the western foot of Mt. Hiei-zan. In the oldest official history of Japan, “Nihon-Shoki” in the article of February, the 2nd year of Emperor Jinmu (659 B.C.), it is written that the clan that enshrined Kamo-Taketsunumi-no-mikoto was the Kamo clan. Later, in 580 B.C., miare ritual was held, and in 28 B.C., the shrine was said to have consecrated a sacred treasure.

【Yabusame-Shinji of Shimogamo Shrine remarks】
Always check with the organizer for event information. Information on this site is for reference only. Contents of the event may have changed.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山