Yabusame is a traditional Japanese martial art in which a mounted archer rides at full gallop, releasing arrows from his bow along the way. It is said to showcase the highest level of skills to which a samurai warrior could aspire, for he had to be both an excellent horseman as well as an exceptional marksman. Today’s yabusame ceremonies preserve the ritual and customs of ancient Japan for the younger generations, rather than demonstrate the might of an army of warriors in order to maintain peace in a feudal land. They are staged along a 279-yard gallery down which the horse runs at full gallop. When given the starting signal, the mounted archer, wearing traditional samurai costume, aims his arrows at three small cedar plank targets along the gallery, spaced 77-yards apart. The entire length of the course is run in approximately twenty seconds, and after each archer has made his run, the entire company returns up the gallery single-file to collect its arrows. Yabasume ceremonies are held in various locations across Japan throughout the year…the above photos are from the April 2009 demonstration at Tsurugoaka Hachiman-gū, a sacred shrine in Kamakura.