Musha Jinji武者神事

Summary

Participants line up during Musha Jinji at Kamigamo Shrine.

Supposedly begun in the Heian court as a way of dispelling bad luck, Kamigamo Shrine’s Musha Jinji, a military archery ritual, is held in the middle of January. 

Arrow in flight at Musha Jinji at Kamigamo Shrine.

A host of men and women in old style court attire (kariginu) assemble in the open grounds on the shrine precincts in order to fire arrows at 1.8 meter targets that have the word oni written on the back.  Oni means “demon” or “ogre”, and in this situation they symbolize misfortune, whereas the arrows act as purifying agents.

This ceremony kicks off from 11am in the morning with the participants filing in to the grounds.  Two priests officially begin the ceremony by firing special whistling arrows at the targets before the other archers line up to fire off volley after volley.

Participants arrive for Musha Jinji at Kamigamo Shrine.

The way in which the archers prepare to shoot and the attention to detail paid to the act of firing the arrow is a sight to see.  Even the respect displayed when collecting the fallen arrows is a testament to the grace and methodical nature of Heian-era Kyoto as well as the respectful aspects inherent in Japanese martial arts.

For those interested in kyūdō, the Japanese martial art of archery, or even just history or costumes, Kamigamo Shrine’s Musha Jinji can offer an interesting glimpse into period rituals.

Things to See/Do

  • Shinto Ritual

  • Period Costume

  • Archery

Schedule

January 16th, 11:00

Access

Kamigamo Jinja

Address

〒603-8047 京都府京都市北区上賀茂本山339

TEL 075-781-0011
FAX 075-702-6618
WEB http://www.kamigamojinja.jp/english/index.html

Admission

  • General Admission: Free

Hours

  • General Admission: 08:30 – 17:00
  • Closed: No closing days

Transportation