Kyudo Notebook: Recitations

One of the practices we did at the beginning of each day during the seminar was formal recitation of the Raiki Shagi and Shaho Kun, the two short texts at the beginning of the Kyudo Kyohon, and also frequently displayed at dojo, at least in Japan. The texts are quite interesting and I’d like to know more about their history and how they came to occupy such an important position in Kyudo, but that’s for another time. One nice thing at the seminar was that, on the third day, they passed out a leaflet with the texts annotated by furigana, and also in romaji. I don’t know how to do furigana in HTML, but I thought the romaji versions might be useful. When reciting the leader usually reads a clause, then everybody else repeats. The clause breaks are indicated by commas or full stops (periods).

Raiki Shagi

Sha wa shintai shūsen kanarazu rei ni atari, uchikokorozashi tadashiku, soto tai naokushite, shikaru nochi ni yumiya o torukoto shinko nari. Yumiya o torukoto shinko ni site, shikaru nochi ni motte ataruto iu beshi. Kore motte tokukō o miru beshi.

Sha wa jin no michi nari. Sha wa tadashiki o onore ni motomu. Onore tadashikushite shikōusite nochi hassu. Hasshite atarazaru toki wa, sunawachi onore ni katsu mono o uramizu. Kaette kore o onore ni motomuru nomi.

Shahō Kun

Shahō wa, yumi o izushite hone o irukoto mottomo kanyō nari. Kokoro o sōtai no chūō ni oki, shikōshite yunde sambun-no-ni tsuru wo oshi, mete sambun-no-ichi yumi o hiki, shikōshite kokoro o osamu kore wagō nari. Shikaru nochi mune no nakasuji ni shitagai, yoroshiku sayū ni wakaruru gotoku kore o hanatsu beshi. Sho ni iwaku tesseki aikokushite hi no idzuru koto kyū nari. Sunawachi kintai hakushoku, nishi hangetsu no kurai nari.

It’s good to memorize them, and of course, understand the meanings, which are explained to some extent in the essay by Uno-sensei in the Kyohon (Japanese pp. 51-56, English pp. 24-26). The Shaho Kun in particular is a curious mix of practical advice and poetic imagery, and the last part, with its metaphors for hanare and zanshin, invites the imagination.

If anybody sees errors or inconsistencies in the romaji please let me know and I’ll correct the text. The original transliteration used the MoE system but I think this Hepburn-ish representation may be more familiar.

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2 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: Recitations

  1. Jo says:

    As you write a lot of interesting things on Kyudo in your blog I was looking for something that relates to the Shaho Kun text, especially the two final lines. The first of the two is generally related to hanare. The final line (translated as: and thus there is the golden body, shining white, and the half moon positioned in the West) is very mysterious for me. Also the Kyuhon does not give a lot of clarity. As you are meeting a lot of Japanese Kyudo sensei I was wondering whether tou have learned more from them on how to understand this line. Hope you can spend a few lines on this.

    • karamatsu says:

      I’ve wondered about that, too. For a Buddhist (and of course, the author of the Shaho-kun was a [Rinzai Zen] Buddhist), the imagery is strongly suggestive of enlightenment. According to the tradition, Shakyamuni achieved enlightenment as he watched the morning star (the golden body shining white) rise in the east, and the moon, on that day (the 8th day of the 12th month) would indeed have been a half-moon (and perhaps in the West, though I’m not sure about that detail). So I’ve always imagined that the image is meant to convey both the physical form of zanshin, with left/right extending infinitely to east/west, and a kind of spiritual attainment that may be triggered by, or accompany, a full and natural release, free of any desire.
      Next time I have a chance I’ll ask about this, though. I imagine most teachers will simply refer to Uno-sensei’s essay in the Kyudo Kyohon, but there are others who like to dive deep into the meanings of these texts and they may have some insights. If I find out anything I’ll post it! And thanks for making me think about it!

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