Kyudo is an ancient form of archery that is practiced as a martial art in Japan. Practitioners wear traditional Japanese trousers called hakama when they engage in the sport, which is also distinctive for its beautiful longbow and the simple elegance of its movements.
Kyudo shooting ranges often have a rustic charm as they are often found in somewhat rural areas with plenty of open space. However, if is not unusual to see the sport practiced in enclosed areas in the middle of major cities.
One of the stand out features of a Kyudo dojo or practice area is that it is consists of two parts. Unlike Western archery, which is typically done completely outside, Kyudo arrows are launched by archers from inside the dojo, toward targets located at the end of a fairly wide ground. In this sense, it is both an indoor and outdoor activity,
The meditative quality of Kyudo separates it from other Japanese martial arts, aside from the fact that is non-combat and relatively non-competitive in its modern form. Kyudo practitioners are more concerned with refining their form and individual skill levels.
You can try Kyudo in Soja City’s Budokan or “Martial Arts Hall”. Located near Soja Station, the hall is the nexus of martial arts in the region, with archery being just one of the many activities available there.It is a modern facility that employs traditional Japanese architecture.
Competitions and exhibitions are held regularly at the hall and of course spectators are welcome. Introductory lessons are offered to all ages and newcomers are encouraged to participate.
About the Area
Soja is an inland city in southwestern Okayama Prefecture. It is borders the cities of Okayama, Kurashiki, Takahashi and Ibara and the towns of Kibichuo and Yakage. This unique geographic position has meant that the city has always been deeply intertwined in regional cultural and political affairs.
With a name that literally means “all shrines”, it would be easy to assume that the city contains a lot of them and you would be correct. However, in many ways, Soja is very much a temple town, in that there are two major ones near the city center.
One of the most interesting parts of the city is the old shopping street that runs parallel to Route 180. There, you will find clues to life in the Meiji era in the stories told through its homes and storefronts.
Access: Take the Hakubi Line from JR Okayama Station to JR Soja Station. The Soja Budokan is about a 20 minute walk from JR Soja Station.
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