I saw that they were advertising an event taking place this weekend, at a mall in a nearby city. It would be a Yabusame (Japanese horse archery) demonstration/information booth, without horses. Jeff and I decided to go and check it out. I was afraid with the language barrier that I might not be able to get much information, but I wanted to try.
It turned out that there were (at least) a few people there who spoke English, including a woman who is here teaching English in the city where the riding club is based. She goes out and rides once a week. She doesn't speak much Japanese, but she called over a friend who speaks Japanese and English and helps with translation for people who want to ride. They said they would be happy to show me where the club is, make introductions, and help me get started!
There was a type of competition going on with the riders who do Yabusame, but sadly I didn't get any pictures of that. Instead, Jeff and I wandered around the mall for a while. When we stopped back by so that I could take pictures, they were actually letting people try out the bow from the back of the "horses".
We were on the second floor, looking down on the happenings.
I was struck by this saddle. It looks like a McClellan...?? (with traditional Japanese stirrups) I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; so far I've already seen a lot of western saddles here, plus English, and even an Australian stock saddle.
I was asking Jeff if he thought I should go down and try it... Right about that time, the man on the left of the pictures had noticed me watching from above. He looked up at me and, with a big smile, beckoned me to come downstairs!
As we made our way down, I handed Jeff the camera. I bumped into the lady I had been talking to about the club and she went along to introduce me to the man who'd invited me to come down. He was extremely nice and spoke English. He asked if I spoke Japanese. I said, "I'm learning, a little" He laughed and said, "Me too, with English".
I had the chance to shoot three weighted target arrows with a BIG bow (compared to what I'm used to). I wasn't able to hit the target, but I got closer each time. My arrows were hitting low, I think it was partly the different bow and also that the arrows are weighted on the end. I was working my way up toward the target, but alas, my turn was up before I managed to hit it.
When I was talking to the two ladies earlier, they confirmed that I can do Yabsame lessons and even participate in the competitions! (I had been wondering if foreigners were allowed to participate) They said before each competition is a three day "intensive", a training/practice for the competition. They were saying that I could do the intensive in April and then be in the competition at the end of April. Whoa! I don't think I'm ready for that, haha. I told them I wasn't sure about that and they said "Maybe October" (the next one). Yes, that sounds better.
Here is a (beautiful) poster advertising the next Yabusame competition in April, during cherry blossom time. I can't wait to see it.
Today actually started with a reminder on FB of what I was doing a year ago today: sitting with Bo in our backyard in SD. Seeing that put me in a bit of a funk, I miss him so much, and I just miss horses. I didn't think I wanted to go to the event today, but I am SO glad that I did.