Kyudo Notebook: Where To Bow?

Another practical note that I wanted to record came up in conversation in Kyoto. When there are multiple objects worthy of the respect conveyed by the bow when you enter the shajo, which one do you bow toward? It turns out that there is a fixed priority order, so you bow toward the first of these three: kamidana, kokki, ningen (kamidana, national flag, person). In Japan some dojo have kamidana and some don’t. It seems like most of those administered by government entities do not, in keeping with the constitutional separation of state and religion. If there is no kamidana, then most will have a national flag. But in some cases there will be neither, in which case priority goes to people (usually judges, like shinsa-in), or to the place where such people would normally sit.

The important thing, aside from knowing the order, is to actually make eye contact with this object when entering and leaving. Judges at shinsa may be watching for that, and apparently sometimes there are comments if someone is just going through the motions, bowing without making eye contact with the object. The kyudo kyohon even describes the feeling with which a person should bow.

As an aside, I wonder what happens when the emperor or one of his family are there? Maybe Zen knows?

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