Ohmato Taikai at the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple

The “Ohmato Taikai” is a 400-year-old archery competition held at the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple in January (2nd Monday).

This temple in Kyoto has always attracted Kyudo (Japanese archery) enthusiasts. The main hall is the longest wooden building in Japan and is 120 meters long.

The competition, called Tōshiya (通し矢 , lit. passing arrow)  started in 1606 when a Samurai gave a demonstration of his Kyudo prowess — shooting 100 arrows in rapid succession the entire length of the temple. He hit the target 51 times.

Since this, an annual Kyudo contest has been held at the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple with various archery marathons events:

The Hyakui
Most target hits with 100 arrows.

The Seni
Most target hits with 1000 arrows. In 1827, an 11-year-old named Kokura Gishichi successfully hit the target 995 times firing from half the distance of the hall.

The Hiyakazu

Boys who had not yet celebrated their Genpuku, or coming-of-age ceremony, could compete in this event. Archers would shoot as many arrows as possible for a 12-hour period during the day. In 1774, Masaaki Noro, a 13-year-old from Kishū, shot 11,715 arrows with almost all of them hitting the target. That’s an average of 16 arrows a minute for 12 hours with no break.

The Oyakazu
The number of target hits in 24 hours. In 1686, Wasa Daihachiro from Kishū successfully shot 8,133 out of 13,053 arrows averaging 544 arrows an hour, or 9 arrows a minute, and became the record holder.

Below are a few photos captured in 2015, 2018, and 2019.