The beautiful musical accompaniments of “Nerota, Nerota”, the Suou (ceremonial dress of lower-class samurai) worn by the archer and the Eboshi (formal headwear for court nobles) all signify the beginning of the sacred bow ritual. The archer gazes at a target about 28 meters away and draws his bow.
It is a brave ritual that follows the figure of the archer in the cold winter air.
“Oyumi Ritual” is an annual event at “Hachiman Shrine”, which is on the grounds of “Nunakuma Shrine”, whereby the bow now symbolizes a prayer for peace in the New Year. It takes place on January 7th of the lunar calendar (now the second Sunday of February) and was designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Fukuyama City in 1971.
An arrow, which represents a prayer for the purification of all the bad things in the past year and which wishes for the peace of the coming year is released toward the target, upon which is written the words “No superiority or inferiority” in Japanese calligraphy.
The locals within the seven old towns in Tomonoura take turns being on duty for the festival. The eldest person among the young group on duty is chosen as the master owner of the bow, and the youngest is chosen as the child owner of the bow. In addition, there are two small pages from elementary school named Kosho, and two arrow collectors called Yatori who are pre-schoolers. It’s charming to see the tiny children carrying the big bronze ring on their backs.
Celebrating the Lunar New Year, this is the mid-winter event of Tomonoura that you mustn’t miss.
Shrine ritual of the Bow
Place/ Nunakuma Shrine
Address/ 1225 Ushiroji, Tomo-cho, Fukuyama-shi, Hiroshima
Date/ 14:00 -, the second Sunday in February