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Experience Traditional Kyudo: Top Fun Activity in Nara


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Coming to Nara City always means having more than one arrow in your quiver. There’s plenty to do and, at the Nara Visitor Center & Inn we’re always trying to notch up one more. Japanese traditional archery, or kyudo, is just one of the latest cool things to experience in Nara. From October through June, you can discover your inner samurai in the Way of the Bow with this unique immersion into Japanese "bushido" tradition and culture.


The Kyudo Experience is unavailable in the months of July and August due to competitions.


The event is also suspended during January and February to prevent the spread of influeza.


Please note that bookings may be limited in March and December due to event commitments.





What the Nara Kyudo Experience is About



The Nara Kyudo experience is a full immersion into the Spirit of Bushido, Japan's ancient martial arts. Enter into a traditional dojo where, after being greeted with a bow ‘n bow, you’ll be dressed and kitted out in full traditional costume. Nothing fancy, but elegant, comfortable, and reassuring.

With an English translator on hand, you’ll learn some basic kyudo principles and then start on the road to becoming a great shot. But don’t sweat it, kyudo is not so much about hitting the target. It’s more the spirit of shin-zen-bi - truth, goodness, and beauty - and merging into the space of ‘no thought’ and ‘no desire’ or munen muso.


Once you’ve had all the time you need to find your comfort zone, you’ll enter the grand dojo hall. It’s actually a kind of indoor pavilion stage and you shoot your arrows out the front towards the targets outside.



How to Book your Kyudo Experience in Nara


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A reservation for this activity is required, which you can do through the Nara Visitor Center & Inn. The event is in cooperation with the Nara City Kyudo Association. It takes place at the Nara Municipal Budojo 2 of the Rohto Konoike Sports Park, a 20-minute walk due north of Kintetsu Nara Station. There’s a Starbucks close by for early birders.


  • Day: Monday, Wednesday, Friday ONLY

  • Mon & Fri: 1 to 3 people

  • Start: 1 PM


  • Wednesday: 2 to 6 people

  • Start: 9 AM


Available dates may change due to annual events, competitions, or other unexpected reasons.


  • Period: October to June.

  • Fee: 7,000 yen (From April 1st 2024, the fee will be increased to ¥10.000)

  • Restrictions: Minimum age requirements - 13 yrs or older


  • Period: Sept.

*Please note

The experience can also be held during September, but it can be VERY hot in the Kyudo hall during that period. There is no air-conditioning or shower facilities at the dojo, but if you accept these conditions, summer bookings are also available.


If you agree to the conditions, bookings for September are possible.


Likewise, there is no heating during the winter, either.


Bookings during July and August are not available due to annual competitions.

The event is suspended during January and February to prevent the spread of influeza.


Please note that bookings may be limited in March and December due to event commitments.


Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance and up to 3 days before the experience day



Venue

The Kyudo experience is held at Rohto Field Nara. There's a map at the bottom of this post. It's about a 25-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or alternatively, you can catch a Nara Kotsu Bus from platform 13 outside Kintetsu Nara Station. Buses 115, 209 or 210 will take you to Rohto Field Nara. You will need to get off the bus at Shei-Kyujo Bus Stop. Keep an eye out for the big Starbucks on the right-hand side. The fare is ¥220.


There is no need to come to NARA Visitor Center & Inn to participate in this event.





This is quite an exceptional thing to do in Nara and time slots are limited. So, make sure to connect with us at the Nara Visitor Center & Inn for specific dates and to secure your place in the kyudo rankings. The event is in Japanese and English only.


*Although the practitioners speak some English, the experience does comes with a certified JPN-ENG translator, so there is no need to worry about communication barriers. The experts are eager to share their knowledge and wisdom related to kyudo and bushido, so should you want to go deep down that rabbit hole, you'll be guided all the way down to the bottom.


Unique, fun, engaging, and memorable

This kyudo experience is a unique and fun activity in Nara. You get the full run of a traditional dojo and the opportunity to practice with expert instructors. After the event, you will be awarded a certificate of merit in Japanese with your name in Katakana script to acknowledge your inner prowess. It’s an engaging full morning activity.



Traditional Archery in Japan


Since ancient times, the Japanese longbow has had a unique association with dignity and fine character. After the innovation of modern weaponry, it became more closely bonded to mental, physical, and spiritual discipline.


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Kyodo is characterized by an unyielding concentration, deep awareness, and precision in every movement. At its core is surrendering the mind and the ego to the will of the bow and the flow of spirit symbolized by the arrow.


The design of the Japanese longbow is such that it requires minimal strength. This gives way to a force-free style of shooting that epitomizes the beauty of its expression.



Popular Questions and Answers about Kyudo


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① Is kyudo popular in Japan? About half or more of kyudo practitioners are high schoolers, and their numbers exceed kendo sword swishers. The number of schools offering kyudo is only about 2 000. The All Nippon Kyudo Federation has around 135 660 members.


② What is the difference between kyudo and kyujutsu?

Kyujutsu means the ‘art of the bow’ and refers more to archery as an art of weaponry before the Meiji era. The official use of the word kyudo was from 1919. Kyudo means the ‘way of the bow’ and can be said to be more focused on the inclusivity of ritual, etiquette, and spirit rather than just the shooting.


③ How much does a kyudo bow cost?

Traditional bows are made from bamboo or lacquered bamboo, and modern ones can use types of fiberglass or carbon fiber. Hand crafted bows can cost over $2,000 USD. Cheaper synthetic ones can start from around $220 USD.


④ How long is a kyudo bow?

The bow, or yumi, of Japanese archery is the longest longbow in the world. There are 6 categories of bow length based on your height and draw length ranging from 212 cm to 245 cm. So your bow is always taller than you.


⑤ What is the highest rank in kyudo?

According to the International Kyudo Federation there are 10 kyudo ranks or dan. The highest rank has no description, being the ‘zenith’ or to have entered the experience of zen via the ‘way of the arrow’.


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*Please note there are no vacancies available for the entire month of August due to competitions and judging committees as well as the months of January and February.





*NARA Visitor Center & Inn will act as an intermediary between you and the dojo and will work to coordinate schedules with you and the instructors as best as possible. It may take some time to get a response to your inquiries, so please be patient.



 


Access:



Address: 4 Chome-5-1 Horensahoyama, Nara, 630-8108


If you have any questions regarding the experience, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at: info@sarusawa.nara.jp



Author: NARA Visitor Center & Inn

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