A few days ago I went to the annual archery contest in Sanjūsangen-dō Temple in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto! There was a lot of commotion on the spacious grounds of this temple. It wasn't so cold, but still the warm food served in the court yard was delicious.
Many young man and woman, who had they're "Coming of Age" ceremony and who had a black belt in Kyudo, came from all over Japan to participate. Outside of the archery contest the main attraction is the beautiful kimonos worn by even more beautiful woman. There were so many people with a camera that it was difficult to get close to the action.
The contest originated in the late 16th century dating back to 1606 when a samurai named Asaoka Heibei is said to have shot 51 arrows in rapid succession down the length of the veranda. In the beginning, archers fired arrows from the southern end of the veranda to the northern end where a curtain-like ornament was erected as a target.
In 1861, after 255 years, the Tōshiya ceased being held, but a contest based on the Tōshiya called Oh-mato Taikai, or Festival of the Great Target still continues today, drawing roughly 2,000 participants from throughout Japan. Archers shoot arrows into targets approximately 50 - 100 centimeters in diameter and 60 meters (198 feet) away at the opposite end of the veranda.