Hard to believe it’s been so long since I last posted. Things have really been happening. I’m just back from Kyoto and thanks to a missed connection have only about 12 hours before heading out again, so I want to add some updates to an earlier post about the Kyoto taikai/shinsa before I forget.
The main points stay the same but it’s important to emphasize the need to get to your appointed spot on the third floor about an hour before you think you’ll be shooting (or stay in the first floor area and listen to the announcements). The way they work it is that, for each of the shajo, there are five lines of seats for people to sit while waiting to shoot (designated the fifth waiting area (dai-go hikae) through first waiting area (dai-ichi hikae)). Two (5 and 4) are outside in the hall area, and three (3-2-1) are inside the main event all (separated from their respective shajo by partitions). If you figure it takes six minutes for one group (tachi) to shoot two arrows, it means that it takes about 30 minutes from the time you sit down in the fifth waiting area to the point where you’re entering the shajo, but you should give yourself more time because some groups shoot quickly, plus if somebody doesn’t show up, they’ll shift you all forward.
The way they seem to work it is that if you are not in your correct place by the time you move from the outer waiting area to the inside one, then you lose your spot. I saw that happen to one person at the very start, and then (most disappointing!) even during the finals, when two people just weren’t in the right place at the right time. They came all that way, passed the first round, and then lost their spot due to timing. Take care!
When you’re at the third waiting area they’ll collect your tsuru-maki or kae-yumi, and then there’s an equipment check. The main things they seem to look at are the fletchings (to make sure you’re not using the feathers of a prohibited endangered species) and the yasurito, the rattan just above the bow grip. That last may be to ensure that you haven’t made a mark to indicate an aiming point, but I’m not certain. We were just warned not to cover the yasurito with our hand.
Once the check is completed you can move your bow/arrows to the stands along the partitions. That area has tatami mats so you’ll need to slip your shoes off. In fact there’s a lot of putting on and taking off of footwear, so either have setta or shoes that you can easily slip on/off.
Another useful tip is that if you are shooting in the first shajo, the rei/yu when you enter and exit should be toward the national flag, but in all the other shajo, the rei/yu should be directed to the most senior person in the kamiza seats (shinsa-in for the shinsa; there are hanshi sitting there during the taikai, but I’m not sure of their official role). The most senior person will be the one farthest to the left (closest to the targets) as you look toward them from the shajo entrace. This positioning, plus the small-ish size of the shajo, makes turning around for the yu at the exit a little difficult.
Oh, and if you’re o-mae, it’s good to know that, rather than looking out the corners of your eyes to figure out who will be the last person to shoot, the shajo shinpan will shout hajime! when the people in front of you finish. That’s the signal to do the yu from the honza, stand up, and then move to the sha-i. It’s nice that way. You can concentrate on your breathing.
In the second part of the taikai (if you hit with both arrows during the first round), you’ll need to bring four arrows with you, but only bring one into the shajo at a time. The shooting just continues immediately after the final tachi of the first round. There is no break. It just starts, so you must be in the waiting area on the third floor or you could lose your chance to shoot in the finals!
In this part you’ll only shoot one arrow at a time, and keep going round and round until there’s only one person left (if there are ties for the fifth through second place those people move to a different shajo for an enkin round). After the second time shooting one arrow, the targets will be switched to the 24cm “star” target (hoshi-mato), which weeds people out faster.
In the you-dan contest people can wear either regular do-gi or kimono. If you’re in kimono you take care of hada-nugi or tying the tasuki before entering the shajo (don’t forget!).
That’s it for the practical stuff, I think. There were some other things that I think I sort of figured out, but I need to give those more thought. It was a good trip!