January 16th was the 大的大会 (Oh-mato taikai; lit. Festival of the Great Target) at Sanjūsangen-dō temple in Kyoto.  Oh-mato taikai is a contest based on a much older archery contest called 通し矢 (Toshiya; lit. passing arrow) that was held for 255 years before being ending in 1861 (Source: Wikipedia).  Approximately 2,000 men and women come to participate.  It starts early (9am) and despite getting there before 9am, there was already a line to get into the temple.  It was extremely crowded, but I managed to squeeze myself into a good spot that was lined up with the archers.  They got two arrows to shoot with.

The men shoot first.  And while they look very peaceful in this pic, props to the guys who shot with half a shirt on.  It was snowing for the first half and didn’t really warm up any even when it stopped.

While the guys look cool, what most people come to see is the women.  They’re all decked out in colorful kimono with hakama, hair done and (sometimes) a full face of makeup.  They looked beautiful.

These women were from the Doshisha University Kyudo Club.  Doshisha has a campus in Kyo-town.

Gorgeous.  I’ve been dying to try kyudo.