Kyudo Notebook: Nagoya 2014 (2) Kaizoe Notes

First some follow-up notes to the earlier post about second kaizoe.


If you can, wear either the stretchy tabi or perhaps ones that are a bit loose. This makes it easier to maintain the sonkyo position. Likewise the less expensive setta, that bend, may be better for this than the more expensive kind. (Advice from the kyudo shop)

Work out with the ite and #1 kaizoe the positions where you will stand/sit at the sadamenoza, as well as the place where you will exchange the arrows. It’s best to rehearse this so you can get each other’s timing down. The location of the arrow exchange will be the same place where you put the setta before the yawatashi begins, arranged so that you hand over the arrows above the border (shiki) of the shajo. The first kaizoe has to sit close enough that this is possible because #2 won’t be able to move further into the shajo without losing balance.

If you can do a rehearsal with the ite, it’s useful in addition to (a) determine the timing for walking out to your position at the sadamenoza during the entrance, because at that point you won’t be able to see the ite, and it’s ideal if you turn to face the kamiza at the same time that he does. The three of you should move as one. Also verify (b) the timing and depth of the bow at the sadamenoza. The two kaizoe should use the same depth, which must be deeper than the ite‘s bow.

Make sure you can easily push your way through the maku (banner over the azuchi). The Nagoya dojo had some heavy netting behind the maku and since I’m a bit taller than average that had to be tied up higher for me to get through.

Place the arrow stand (where you will place the haya) close to the edge of the azuchi, but the exact placement depends on the dojo. What you want is to be able to walk directly from the shajo to a spot about one pace from the arrow stand. That way your trip from the shajo to the azuchi, and from the azuchi back to the shajo, will be in a straight line.

Inconspicuously place your setta (together, facing the azuchi) before the opening ceremony begins, or you may not have time to do that before the yawatashi.

The location where you sit in sonkyo at the azuchi is normally around the position of the 5th target if you were setting up for five targets, so about 3.6 meters behind the central target, but this depends on the dojo. If the area in front of the azuchi is sand or earth, you can mark your spot by scraping a line in the right place. If not (Nagoya has some kind of artificial surface there), then you can place a marker high on the azuchi, so you can see it, but it’s invisible to those watching.

Remember you’ll need a little cloth to wipe the arrows clean after you take them out of the target. I bought a small white towel at a convenience store the night before, and was going to cut that up to make this, but the hotel had these little make-up cleaning pads in the room, so I used one of those instead. I’ve wondered sometimes if a dark cloth wouldn’t be better, but there may be a ceremonial reason to use white.

One other thing you should do, on the one-in-a-thousand chance that an arrow might become stuck in the overlapping joint of the target frame, is make sure that a second target is ready and waiting so you can replace the first if necessary. And that there is someone available (or at least some tools) to remove the arrow. Since most yawatashi will be done with bamboo arrows this has to be done with great care.

The Actual Ceremony

Before the yawatashi begins you’ll gather with the ite and other kaizoe, sit in seiza near the entrance, and exchange a deep bow with the ite.

On entry, you have to wait for the ite to clear the entrance before you can go out, do the yu, and then start walking straight to your position. When you reach your spot, turn a bit slowly. This gives you a chance to catch the ite out of the corner of you eye. If he has not yet reached his position and begun his turn, you slow down, almost to a stop, until he makes his turn. That way even if you start turning too fast, you can finish your turn at the same time that he does (something I learned later).

On the way out of  (and back into) the shajo, you must not step on the shiki. This means you have to slip the setta on and off in a rather unstable position, so it seems best to place them close to the edge of the shajo, and together so you can use one to lever the other.

As mentioned in the kaizoe book, you must walk quickly to the azuchi because the ite will be waiting at the honza for you to sit in sonkyo. At the same time, try not to make too much flip-flop noise as you walk.

If there is a banner (maku) over the azuchi, the way to go though it is to stretch your left hand out straight in front of you and just push through. Don’t try to lift the maku from the bottom or it may ruin your dozukuri posture.

At the azuchi, you start every walking movement with the foot closest to the azuchi. The only time you start with the foot opposite the azuchi is during the standing turns that occur two steps from the target and one step from the arrow stand.

When going back to the shajo, you have to adjust your pace so that you and the first kaizoe will meet simultaneously at the point where the arrows are handed over. The best timing seems to be to reach about the halfway point just as the first kaizoe steps back from the ite after hada-ire. When the ite is a woman, it seems that the first kaizoe does not approach her after the shooting (I guess there isn’t supposed to anything that can go wrong), so perhaps in that case the first kaizoe needs to match the pace of the second kaizoe.

After handing over arrows the arrows and the first kaizoe heads back to the ite, slip off the setta and step up into the shajo (taking care to step over the shiki, not on it) with the right foot, then bring the left foot up to join the right. Only then do you begin to walk forward with the right foot.

After the bow at the sadamenoza, all three stand up, then take one step back with the right foot before turning to walk to the exit.

After exiting, you will once again sit in seiza with the ite and first kaizoe, and bow to the ite.

Once all is finished and people are leaving the shajo, go back and get the setta. It’s good to have a bag for them. When you carry them back out of the shajo, keep them on the right side of your body, away from the kamiza and hidden from view.


As you can see, lots of good information came out of the experience. Anyone thinking of going to the Nagoya seminar, and who will be wearing wafuku (4-dan or above when the seminar starts), should get the kaizoe book (for example here) and be prepared for this. The book is in Japanese but has lots of pictures, plus there are videos on the Internet. And everyone regardless of level needs to be ready to lead the recitation of the Raiki-Shagi and Shaho-Kun in Japanese. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Also of course, these are just my notes, and in some cases represent a choice between what different people told me, so I could be wrong about some points.

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3 Responses to Kyudo Notebook: Nagoya 2014 (2) Kaizoe Notes

  1. Pingback: Kyudo Notebook: #1 Kaizoe Notes | Mu

  2. Zacky Chan says:

    More excellent notes! I’m impressed by the detail in which you go over all the preparations required before actually doing the yawatashi. If there were explanations of the tricky movements of pulling out the arrows and the handover to the dai ichi kaizoe, then I’d say this was absolutely complete. Lots of tricky details to try to explain though. Great stuff.

  3. karamatsu says:

    Thanks! For the tricky moves I really think video is best, although I’ve found that using words to call out particular things can make it easier to get the most from video. Otherwise sometimes it’s hard to know what to watch. A useful thing I discovered at Youtube is that you can also slow down the video. Maybe everybody already knew that!

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