By Hilmi Sever
Yabusame, also known as traditional Japanese horseback archery, has drawn admiration and curiosity at the Ethnosport Cultural Festival in Istanbul.
Organized by the World Ethnosports Federation and sponsored by Anadolu Agency, the festival aims to promote traditional sports.
Dating back to the 12th century, the traditional sport holds differences when compared to Turkish horseback archery.
Samurai open the ritual with a cry called “Tenchouchikuu” for peace in Japan and for the happiness of people, then shoot at three targets. The samurais believe they destroy evil by hitting the targets.
Arimoto Daisuke, a samurai participating in the yabusame competition, told Anadolu Agency that he was proud to be in the festival.
“We are very happy to be in such a big festival. It is as though we have been together with the Turkish people for years and there's an atmosphere like we have been watching a festival together. We are having fun with them,” Daisuke said.
He said that while the horseback archery in Turkey is a sport, yabusame originates from a form of worship for the Japanese.
“We came here today and we are throwing arrows for the happiness of Turkish people,” Daisuke said.
Daisuke also mentioned the meaning of the hat he was wearing.
“The face on my hat symbolizes the devil. Because the devil does not get along with Allah. We who do yabusame take the power of Allah and fight against the devil in the name of Allah,” he said.
Yabusame is still in demand in Japan, but very few people engage in it because it is a difficult sport, Daisuke added.
The 20-person team, including a group of swordsmen, from Japan will perform in a total of six shows during the festival.
The five-day festival in Istanbul’s Yenikapi Square will revive celebrations indigenous to the Turkic world, Central Asia and Anatolia.