The Third World Kyudo Taikai (Tokyo) 2018
Competition Day 1
International team competition qualifiers and individual Dan holder winners decided
With 881 participants from all over the world, the Third World Kyudo Taikai was held at All Nippon Kyudo Federation Chuo Dojo and Shiseikan Kyudojo in the Meiji-Jingu
Meiji-Jingu, where the Dojo [training hall] is located, was built in commemoration of Emperor Meiji in the Taisho era [1912-1926]. At the same time, “Eien-no-Mori [Eternal Forest],” or the forest of the shrine was also created with 100,000 trees donated from around the country. After 100 years, the forest today is equivalent to the size of 15 Tokyo Domes (baseball stadium) and has become quite like a natural forest and loved by many people as an oasis in the city.
The Dojo opened at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, April 24. The weather for the first day of the competition was like early summer with a nice breeze. Sunlight occasionally streamed down through the grove of tall trees covering the Kyudojo [Kyudo training hall]. Birds were singing, and the leaves were flying in the wind. Surrounded by nature, the Kyudojo quietly awaited the upcoming heated competition.
At 9:00 AM, President Shuya Nakako performed Yawatashi in the presence of Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado. Yawatashi is a ritual, the first arrows that should penetrate Azuchi at the beginning of the competition to pray for its success and safety.
At 9:45 AM, the preliminary rounds for the team competition started. There were 20 teams: Iceland, Netherlands, Finland, Romania, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Lithuania, Austria, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Italy, Canada, the United States, Russia, and Taiwan. It was a tournament and each team had 24 allows (two rounds, four-arrows per archer for each round) and the eight teams with the greatest number of hits advanced to the final.
At the same time, the preliminary rounds for individual competition kicked off at Shiseikan. Individual archers shot four arrows, and those scoring a minimum of 3 hits advanced to the final.
Only the sound of bended bows, and arrows cutting the wind, and hitting the targets echoed in both venues. The audience's eyes were fixed on archers’ brave demeanor and gesture.
Shortly before noon, the top eight teams that would proceed to the final were determined: Finland, Romania, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Italy, and Taiwan. The final was held on the next day, Wednesday, April 25th.
Who won the individual competition for Dan holders?
At 1:00 PM, at Chuo dojo, the preliminary rounds for individual competition started. At Shiseikan, the individual preliminary rounds were still continuing solemnly from the morning. 642 archers from all over the world challenged this individual competition for Dan holders. Each one of them faces themselves and the target. Before long, the preliminary rounds finished. 113 archers made it to the final.
At 4:00 PM, the final rounds for the individual competition kicked off at Chuo Dojo. The final was Izume-kyosha. This is a competition method that archers take turns to shoot an arrow at a time and those who hit the target most in a row will be ranked higher. In this competition, 24 cm diameter target is used from the third round. However, Enkin-kyosha* with 36 cm diameter target is used in the case of a tie-break for those who missed the target.
At 4:30 PM, 63 archers hit the mark in the first round of the final. At 4:50 PM, the second round started. A total of 46 archers, 23 from Chuo Dojo and another 23 from Shiseikan who moved to Chuo Dojo, engaged in intense competition.
At 5:10 PM, 21 archers survived in the third round, and subsequently, 9 in the fourth round. At 5:30, the winning archers were narrowed down to 4 in the fifth round.
As a result, Masaaki Hasegawa ranked first. He was the only one who achieved the feat of hitting the target in the sixth round. From the result of Enkin-kyosha, the second and third places were taken by Kenji Ohiro and Yutaka Aoki, respectively.
Hasegawa (from Koto-ku, Tokyo) commented: “Archers before and after my turns were foreigners, which once again made me realize that it was a world competition. But I didn’t get nervous as much as I had imagined because I was able to shoot just the way I usually practice. Since I’m busy with my work on weekdays and can go to Dojo only on weekends, I intend to focus on my daily training. My goal is to accomplish a good result in Tomin Taikai. I’m drawn to Kyudo because it always gives me food for thought. Any movement will become totally different if you lose the focus. I think that is one of the most amazing things about Kyudo.”
Enkin-kyosha: Each archer shoots an arrow at the same target in turn, and the one who hits an arrow closer to the center of the target will rank higher. Hakeya (an arrow that scraps along the ground) will rank the lowest. Even if they do not hit the target, an arrow closer to the target will rank higher.
Results of individual competition for Shogo holders
On the second day of the competition, Wednesday, April 25th, we had heavy torrential rain with strong winds that Yaba [arrow place] and Azuchi were barely visible. Yet, Chuo Dojo was filled with dignified atmosphere, anticipating the World Kyudo Taikai to begin.
A little past 9:00 AM, the individual competition for Shogo holders started. 239 tough archers bent a bow in a calm manner, totally in control.
Even the voice of the announcement introducing the archers sounded a little dim and wet. Each archer fully focus on the one arrow each time. The sounds of the bows and arrows cut through the rain. Occasionally the audience shouted “good!” and that created a very positive atmosphere that united the archers, audience, and Kyudojo in one.
Shortly after 11:30, the final began. 65 archers advanced to the final. In the first round, 35 were able to hit the target. Just after 1:00 PM, the second round started, and 20 succeeded.
The rain left the area, and the strings were making a groaning noise in a cloudy atmosphere. A little past 1:30 PM, 11 archers passed the third round.
When the sun finally began shining, the fourth round started. Out of the 11, 7 archers came through in the fourth round, and then 5 in the fifth round.
At 2:00 PM, the champion was determined in the sixth round. Kastuyoshi Takahashi won the individual competition for Shogo holders. The second place was taken by Hideo Motohashi and the fourth by Tubasa Yano.
Takahashi (Hirosaki, Aomori) commented: “It has been 25 years since when I started practicing Kyudo in the first year of high school. Since Aomori gets a lot of snow in winter, it is difficult for me to have enough training. I put more weight on quality than on quantity in the training so that I can analyze why I missed a target or things like that. In the past I had fun hitting a target, but now I realize that Kyudo isn’t just about hits. That’s why I think training is the most important thing”.
Team competition winners were decided after a heated competition
After the 30-minute break, at 3:00 PM, the team final kicked off. The first match was between Japan and Romania. Japan won with a score of 10-9 and was qualified for the second round. The next match was between Lithuania and the United Kingdom, and Lithuania advanced to the second round by a score of 6-4. Then, between Taiwan and France, Taiwan earned the 9-3 victory and made it to the next round of the tournament.
Finally, the match between Italy and Finland finished in a tie, 5-5, and Dochu-Kyosha started. Archers in both teams were silent, holding back their exaltation. The audience was also excited and watched the heated battle. For the first, second and third shot, both teams got 2, 1, and 1 hits, respectively. It was such a tantalizing match. Finally, for the fourth shot, Italy won the tiebreaker by 3-1.
The excitement lingered after the thrilling match, and the audience remained noisy. But the semifinal round between Japan and Lithuania made them speechless. Japan team already had 11 hits. Kyudojo was completely silent when the 12th arrow was shot. The streak of light flashed, and everyone turned their eyes to the target. And…it was a hit! Japan team achieved Kaichu.
The audience sighed of awe and admiration for the mental spirit of Japan team and was riveted on its beauty. As a result, Japan advanced to the final match by a score of 12-2. As for the match between Taiwan and Italy, Taiwan won with a score of 5-3 and was qualified for the final.
At 4:15, the match for the third-place started. Lithuania went first, and Italy followed. Up until the third shot, the score was 2-3. Some audience may have asked themselves “Will the next shot make it fall into a tie?” Yes, Italy just had Dochu-Kyosha in the first round of the final tournament. So, what happened to the fourth round? Italy won the third place by 3-5. Italy team received thoroughly merited applause from the audience.
And then at 4:30 PM, after the tight matches, the final match kicked off. While the audience was still very excited, the archers of Japanese and Taiwan teams calmly started to bend a bow. As a result, Japan beat Taiwan 10 to 4 and won the championship. Since last France Taikai in 2014, Japanese team achieved winning two consecutive competitions.
Members of Japan team left such comments as “We are relieved that we won. we are very happy.”, "I was so tense at the preliminary, and I couldn't think of anything”, “We could work as one and could focus in the final tournament”, and “I would like to say thank you to all who supported us.”. And their coach commented, “The first archer has his role. The same can be said to the second and the third archers. Although we had very few opportunities to practice and four training camps, each member worked a lot on what to do for the competition. Thank you very much.”
At 5:00 PM, the closing ceremony was held. In the presence of Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, the Third World Kyudo Taikai brought the curtain down after the result announcement, the commendation, the host speech, the national and federation flag ceremony, and the closing.