Review: Kyudo: The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery

Cover Photo

Kyudo: The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery

Turning to work originally in English, this one should probably be tops on anyone’s list. In addition to providing some history and a review of standard equipment, there is a description of the shaho hassetsu with photographs of Onuma Hideharu (hanshi, 9-dan) demonstrating many of the fine points. Most valuable to me have been the illustrated sections on technique for beginning, intermediate, and advanced practitioners, as well as the section on dealing with problems. The illustrations of the normal zasha and rissha shooting sequences, as well as the methods for dealing with shitsu, are also useful.

Especially inspiring are the DeProsperos’ (Dan, renshi, 6-dan, and Jackie, 5-dan) reminiscences of their teacher (presented more fully in another book, Illuminated Spirit: Conversations with a Kyudo Master). Don’t miss the brief dialogue included in the appendix.

Although this book will not tell you all you need to know to actually shoot, as a reference and a kind of virtual tutor, it is invaluable. The DeProsperos have a good web site, too, complete with animated versions of the hassetsu and a wealth of links and other information, including a US source for equipment.

If you combine this book with the Kyudo Manual and perhaps one of the Japanese instructional books/DVDs (reviews to come), it will probably give you 90% of what is available in print on the practical basics plus some enticing hints of what lies beyond.

This book is published by Kodansha, hardcover list price US$35.00.

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