Relationship between Japanese Kyudo and Shinto
by Dr. Ryouji Yokoyama, Kyoshi, 6th Dan.
published with the permission of the Author.


At the request of Chancellor Wilkening of the University of California, Irvine, I delivered a lecture about Japanese Kyudo and performed the Makiwara Sharei ceremony at the Irvine campus on May 8 1996. The audiences at both the lecture and the Makiwara Sharei included professors and university employees – including professors of cultural anthropology, students and people interested in Kyudo.

A makiwara is a cylindrical straw bale approximately 50cm. in diameter. The sharei (formal shooting ceremony) facing a makiwara is one of the highest-status ceremonies performed at formal occasions such as dojo openings and other celebrations, along with the matomae sharei (formal shooting facing targets). This type of ceremonial shooting is usually accompanied by assistants. In order to increase the understanding of the audience, I employed two assistants who practice kyudo in the United States.

The two assistants I requested were Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan from the Northern California Kyudo Federation, both being active in this area. Mr. Buchanan is an engineer hold the rank of 5th dan in kyudo. Mrs. Buchanan is a renshi (assistant instructor) 5th dan. Both have dedicated themselves to the study of Kyudo.

When I performed the makiwara sharei, I set a Kamidana (Shinto altar) overlooking the audience – conforming to Kyudo etiquette in Japan – and inside it I placed an Ofuda (substitute god stick) from the Ise Shrine in Japan. Instead of using Osakaki (evergreen tree branches), I used evergreen tree branches from California. After performing Hairei (formal bow) toward the Kamidana, I completed the sharei following the proper etiquette and movements; then at the end I performed Hairei again.

I was very impressed that during the performance over 100 people in the audience watched noiselessly, did not leave, and afterwards gave me a large round of applause. Since this is the first time I have done a Hairei to a Kamidana in the United States when performing the makiwara sharei, I expected to be asked about the relationship between Kyudo and Shinto by members of the audience or Mr. Buchanan. I was pleased to receive a letter from Mr. Buchanan asking about this relationship after I came back to Japan. I promptly answered Mr. Buchanan in four letters which I mailed to him. I had my answers translated into English because I thought they would be useful to people who study kyudo in the United States. Because I think it is helpful for one's kyudo study to have a better understanding about Japanese kyudo today, I will begin with an explanation of the origin of Hairei toward a Kamidana in kyudo dojos.

The origin and  transmission of Hairei toward a Kamidana.

The Kyudo Saho (forms of Japanese archery ceremonial) includes various types of sharei commonly performed in Japan, initiated with the performance of Housha (offering shooting to the gods, currently referred to as Honosha) by Yabusame (shooting from horseback) at shrines by bushi (warrior) since 930 AD (1).

The significance of performing Yabusame was equivalent to the Shrine Dancing which was transmitted from ancient times to comfort the gods. Therefore it was performed in front of a large audience. Before performing yabusame, the warrior who becomes an archer purifies his body and mind and bows formally to the shrine altar and then rides a horse.

Yabusame shooting involves firing an arrow at a wooden target from the back of a galloping horse. If the arrow hits the target, the great sound of the hit transmits the courage of the archer to the audience. After the yabusame the archer again performs hairei to the shrine altar with the dignity of the archer being expressed by his overall bearing. (2)

With the audience receiving the dignity of the archer's bearing and courage from the yabusame shooting, respect for the yumi (Japanese bow) grew among the common people. This respect spread widely as time passed.

As a result, due to the wishes of the common people, in around, 1300 A.D., Housha (offering shooting to the gods) by Hosha (archery on foot in front of the gods) was performed by common people instead of Kisha (archery on horseback.) In the beginning, Shinshoku (Shinto priests) performed the Housha as representatives of common people. Also at this time, the archers purified their bodies and minds and performed Hairei in front of the shrine altar. Then they conducted the Housha by shooting arrows into the targets surrounded by large crowds in accordance with the principals of etiquette.

After the Housha, the archers again advanced to the front of the shrine altar and performed Hairei. Because this Housha was not only dignified but was also something close and enjoyable to the common people, Housha if this sort spread to various provinces and was widely performed at many shrines. Records exist of Housha performed by common people instead of Shinto priests (4)

This Housha performed by the common people continued to be performed as one of the rituals of society until about 1865 A.D. However, the military government in Japan later came to an end and the warrior class merged into the common people. Due to this merging of the warrior class and the common people, a single nation-wide organisation was started. Under this organisation the yumi (Japanese bow) was developed as an instrument for moral improvement and many kyudo dojos were built all over Japan.

Consequently a large number of people have come to learn kyudo. Inside the dojos a Kamidana was placed and a rule was established requiring a Hairei to the Kamidana to be perform before and after daily, practice, tournaments, and shareis, in accordance with the spirit of Housha. This saho (etiquette rule) has been handed down unchanged to the present day.

Following a long tradition, a Hairei toward a Kamidana is the product of the conduct of the life of the Japanese community in unison with their gods. In other words, in terms of origin, Shinto is not a religion.

From this perspective I have summarised Mr. Buchanan's letter and my answers.



Rekishi Kouron (General Guidance of History) Special Edition: Study of Yumi-ya by Mr. Shinii Koizumi. p. 150 Published by: Yuzankaku

Rekishi Kouron (General Guidance of History) Special Edition: Study of Yumi-ya by Mr. Shinji Koizumi p. 156 Published by: Yuzankaku

Yumiya no Rekishi wo Kataru (History of Yumi-ya) by Mr. Kenzo Oki. p. 172 Published by: Shunchosha

Yumiya no Rekishi wo Kataru (History of Yumi-ya) by Mr. Kenzo Oki. p. 174 Published by: Shunchosha

Mr. E.Clay Buchannan's Letter

February 5, 1997

Dear Dr. Ryouji Yokoyama:

It is almost time for Groundhog Day here. Is Spring just around the corner in Japan? I hope you are well. Today I would like to ask you some questions regarding the Shinto religion since you are very knowledgeable in this area.

The other day, Yoshiko and I were invited to the opening ceremony of an Aikido Dojo in Fresno. We were informed that the ceremony would begin with "Shinto purification". We assumed that the ceremony would be conducted according to Shinto tradition, but later we learned that it was performed by a Konkokyo priest. The Konkokyo sect was established in the 19th century but, of course, Shinto was created in very ancient times.

Last year at the kyudo exhibition which was held at the University of California, Irvine, you emphasised the deep relationship between Kyudo and Shinto. Therefore I would like to ask you the following questions about the relationship between the religion of Shinto and the martial art of Kyudo.

(1) In the Kyudo Kyohon (textbook) which is published by the All Nippon Kyudo Federation it is stated that there is no religious implication about ceremonial shooting styles. But I remember the exhibition commentator of an Ogasawara archery school demonstration saying that the shooting of arrows does have religious implications. (I had a chance to observe the Ogasawara School's Hundred Arrow Ceremony at the Meiji Shrine on 3 November of last year). Therefore, I would like to know the difference between the ceremonial shooting style which does have religious implications and those which do not.

I think that when the judge's delegation, the participants and the tournament officials worship at a Shinto Shrine before the opening ceremony of the All Japan Championship, it seems as if the worshipping makes Kyudo ceremonial shooting a part of a Shinto ceremony. What do you think?

(2) Mr. Stephen Selby, a researcher into historical Chinese shooting styles, said that the relationship between Shinto and the bow and arrow could be related to the fact that in ancient times, yumi (Japanese bow) was the only weapon effective in fighting evil spirits. Do you think this is correct? I would like to know why you think Kyudo has had a deep relationship with Shinto since ancient times.

(3) Are there any religious ceremonial shooting styles which only Shinto priests are allowed to perform? If so, what are they? If there are any, which religious ceremonial shooting styles are we allowed to perform?

(4) Mr. Selby is a British citizen who lives in Hong Kong. He is quite knowledgeable about historical Chinese shooting styles. He has been researching Chinese shooting styles very seriously, but has been having difficulty in finding a copy of "Shagaku Seisoo" and thinks it may be listed under a different title. If you know the original Chinese title of "Shagaku Seisoo" please let me know. For your reference I am enclosing a picture of Mr. Selby.

That is the end of my questions. I understand you have a very busy schedule, but if you can help me in answering these questions I will be deeply appreciative. By the way, I am currently in the process of preparing the Shiseikan Kyudo Dojo's home page on the INTERNET. May I have your permission to put your essay "Shooting Nurtures the Mind's Eye" in the translation section of the home page? Although I have been taking a Japanese conversation class, it is still difficult for me to write letters in Japanese. (I asked Yoshiko to write this letter for me.)



E. Clay Buchanan III
Shiseikan Kyudo Dojo
San Jose, California

My letter (No. 1)

March 4, 1997

Dear Mr. E Clay Buchanan:

Although on the Japanese calendar the coldest time is over now, there will still be many cold days. Please take good care of yourself and I am looking forward to hearing from you. It is getting warmer in Japan and how is in California?

Congratulations on your last year promotion to 5 dan. I hope you will continue to strive for further practice of Kyudo.

I was glad to receive your letter of February 5. It happens often in the United States that opening of Aikido dojo is not carried out in Shinto style, as you wrote in your letter. Because it costs a lot to invite a Shinto priest from Japan, they usually adopt a similar, easier style, or have a groundbreaking ceremony of their own designing. When they have a groundbreaking ceremony, they clap their hands towards an evergreen tree branch which they use as a sakaki tree branch and bow to it. At a groundbreaking ceremony of Hitachi Chemical Research Centre in UC Irvine campus, I asked Mr. Takazawa, the chief Shinto priest of Meiji Shrine at the time, to send three Shinto priests.

Hitachi Chemical covered all the costs for the ceremony, but this was a very exceptional case.

There were two major reason why this ceremony could be held in Shinto style. One is because I was a close friend of the chief Priest Takazawa who happens to be the chairman of the alumni association of Kyudo Club of Kokugakuin University. Another reason is that more than 300,000 foreigners go and worship at Meiji Shrine, so I wanted to introduce Shinto properly to Americans. I enclose a copy of and American newspaper article about this ceremony.

Also, the figure 1-A on page 5 of the enclosed lecture review shows the groundbreaking ceremony in which Shinto priests worship towards an American evergreen tree branch as if it were a sakaki tree.

The Vice chancellor who was in charge of campus construction at the time was against construction of Hitachi Chemical Research Centre, and declined to attend the groundbreaking ceremony or any other subsequent celebrations. However, watched the ceremony from outside the ceremony hall (probably because he was interested in seeing what a Shinto style ceremony would look like.) Shinto Priests bowed to the evergreen tree branch (the name of which the did not even know), and worshipped it as a god. The vice chancellor looked at them and said to himself "Shinto is not a religion."

He changed his attitude after that. He attended celebrations and in addition, promoted construction of Research Centre and made sure it completed by the scheduled date.

Unlike Buddhism or other religions, the Purpose of Shinto is to "give priority to prosperity of the community over individuals" (as you can see on the 8th line of page 6 in the enclosed lecture review.) So, you can't really call it a religion. Shinto was developed naturally among Japanese people. It was named ‘Shinto’ around the time when Buddhism was introduced to Japan.

Shinto originates from agricultural ritual and I would like to explain about the history of Shinto and its contents.

History and Content of Shinto

Shinto originated about 2,300 years ago, way back when rice farming started. Weather always influences farming – especially long spells of dry weather or long rain or typhoons which can lead to a poor crop or no harvest. This caused food shortage and threatened people's lives.

At that time, people regarded these phenomena as expressions of the wrath of gods who live in natural things. To pacify this anger, they prayed to the gods to come down to the earth by the help of big trees so that people could offer goods, eat together and dance to make the feasts enjoyable.

All the villagers at the time were required to gather with righteous minds and to pray sincerely so that the gods would come down. This is said to be the origin of primitive Shinto: the whole village participated in this gathering which became a kind of ceremony. Its contents are explained briefly on page 15 and 16 of the enclosed lecture review.

As stated on page 11 of the lecture revue, the people's intention to ease the wrath of the gods goes about 10,000 years – way back when they settled down at the feet of mountains and saw the shining sun rising from mountains almost every day. They appreciated its blessings and started worshipping it. Then, those phenomena made people at that time believe that gods exist in every natural phenomenon – including the sun.

Because the purpose of Shinto is to ‘give priority to prosperity of community over individuals,’ it never preached any doctrines or revered a leading figure It has always valued ceremonies and celebrations up until now. I would like to introduce Kyudo and Shinto in the next letter.

Sincerely yours,

Ryouji Yokoyama

Consultant to the Board of Directors
Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.

My Letter (No. 2)

March 14, 1997

Dear Mr. E. Clay Buchanan:

Re: Questions (1) – (3)

I should like to answer your three questions. The first question is about Sharei in Kyudo which you regard as ritual of Shinto.

The second question is about your conjecture on the relationship between Shinto and Kyudo. The third question is, if there is a form of Sharei only conducted by a Shinto priest.

Rather than answering each question, I shall tell you how it came about that the common people started ceremonial shooting after the time the Bushi (Warriors) pursued ceremonial shooting before the Gods, so that you can understand the relationship between Kyudo and Shinto. I hope you can correct your understanding if you would agree with my explanation.

As I wrote on my first letter, Shinto is a unique belief of Japanese people which started naturally by revering everything in the natural world – such as the sun and other phenomena – as gods. Because of this, Norito (Shinto ritual prayer), which the Shinto priest (now called "Shinshoku") reads at the shrine, reveres the gods at first, then says words of prayer.

When individuals worship at a shrine, at first they wash their hands and mouths, cleanse their hearts to go before the gods with obedient minds. And after bowing with righteous and sincere minds, they clap their hands to make wishes. This way of thinking permeates the mind of Shinto as well as the mind of the Japanese People. The mind of the Japanese People has been nurtured by repetition of worship the gods; and in most Japanese homes one can find Shinto altars.

In other words, they lead their lives unified with the Gods. Also prayer to the Gods originated with the desire to comfort the minds of the Gods and appease the Gods' anger.

So people made offerings to the Gods and prayed. After that, all the villagers and the Gods descended to the earth had a feast, danced and enjoyed together. This is the origin of celebrations at shrines which take place widely in Japan now. Now there are more than.50,000 shrines in Japan.

Since the time when Japanese started settling down at the feet of mountains about 10,000 years ago, the Yumi has been respected as a symbol of masculinity. But after the nation was formed, the Yumi, due to its pleasing shape and figure, has been admired as a sacred and miraculous treasure. It is also respected as the "Yumi of Bui (courageous dignities)". There are myths about this passed down from generation to generation.

Ceremonial shooting started at the Imperial Court in about 480 A.D to improve humankind, and as a vessel of virtue because Yumi was respected among the upper-classes. The ceremonial shooting consisted of etiquette and shooting and was performed by following the rituals. The yumi was important as a weapon, so warriors received repeated training on horseback. One such form was called, "Yabusame" and started in 672 A.D. When performing Yabusame, the archer rides on horseback and lets the horse gallop, fully draws the bow and shoots an arrow to a wooden target.

When the arrow hit the wooden target, it was broken by the arrow with sharp crack. This generated an atmosphere of gallantry, and spectators were stirred with admiration for the courage of those who shot with the Yumi.

So, in order to comforting the gods’ mind, both dancing and Yabusame were performed by warriors from at around 930 A.D. When Yabusame was performed as a Shinto ritual, participants – including archers – got a Shinto purification at a specific place and then lined up in front of the place for worship at the shrine.

Participants bowed to the Gods enshrined there and archers drank Omiki (sacred sake), and received a Yumi and arrows. That was the end of worshipping before Yabusame.

After this, Yabusame was performed and papers on which the results were marked were offered to the Gods: this was the rule.

The purpose of Yabusame as a Shinto ritual was to comfort the minds of gods. So before performing it, people prayed with wholehearted, righteous and sincere minds to the Gods to descend to the earth to observe and enjoy Yabusame.

It was quite natural for all participants including archers to worship the Gods according to the traditional manner before performances. It was also natural to present the results to the Gods after finishing the Yabusame performance.

The samurai government started at the beginning of Kamakura era. In 1191, the Government held an opening ceremony of Yumi, following the ceremonial shooting performed in the Imperial Court, as a mark of their respect for the Yumi.

This was still an insecure, feudalistic period: a war might have broken out at any time and the upper-class Bushi (warrior) were expected to be brave and behave decently on the battlefields.

In 1199, following after the introduction of Buddhism, the propagation of Zen started and thanks to the patronage of the Kamakura government, Zen captured attention of upper-class Bushi .

They willingly practised zazen and tried to acquire the Zen spirit which includes Mushin (Empty mind) and Fudoshin (Firmness). As a result, Zen spirit was added to learning of Kyudo. At the same time, tea ceremony and flower arrangement became familiar as part of Zen culture. Zen Buddhism spread to the lower-class Bushi and common people, and the cultural standard improved.

As a result of this improvement of cultural standards, people showed more interests in ceremonial shooting. At the beginning of Muromachi era, in around 1400 A.D., "Housha" (it is now called "Hounousha") started and spread. The meaning of Housha is ‘to dedicate shooting to comfort the minds of the gods’. Just like a cerebration, after participants worshipped the gods with offerings, Housha was performed according to the rituals of ceremonial shooting of the Imperial Court. At first, this ceremonial shooting was performed in the precincts of shrines, so the Shinto priest who served the gods were the principal performers, representing the common people. However, after that time, the common people also began to perform it; but it is recorded that it looked very funny because they were not used to handling Yumi. Also, this Housha was performed at shrines all over Japan in Edo era (1603-1867), and it has been handed down to the present.

After the samurai government, the Meiji era (1868-1912) started and the ceremonial shooting performed by the government and feudal clans was abolished. However, even after the abolition, Kyudo remained as a vessel of virtue to train humanity and, due to its popularity among the common people of performing Housha before the shrine, the common people in Meiji era developed Kyudo based on the spirit of Housha, by constructing Kyudojo with Shinto altars in many places.

Housha performed in shrines is now called Hounousha. When a Hounousha or big tournament takes place in the precincts of a shrine rather than at the Kyudojo, participants led by Shinto priests worship the gods before shooting. This is based on the spirit of traditional Housha, and there is no intention to make the shooting ceremony of Kyudo especially like a Shinto ritual.

The reason why Kyudojo incorporate and outdoor outside shrine with Shinto altars derives from the spirit of Housha, which has been handed down since Muromachi era. So it is natural to worship at the Shinto altar at the beginning and the end of a tournament or practice. These rituals and customs to respect the gods and to express the belief that the Gods are living among us have been handed down as part of the spirit of the Japanese People. Offering "Ofuda" (charmed cards) and an evergreen tree branch "Sakaki" is a tradition from the beginning of Shinto, to help the gods to descend to the earth.

First, the Yumi was respected as Shinki (a treasure of sacredness), Reiho (a treasure of the spirits) and also Yumi of Bui (courageous of dignity) and ceremonial shooting was performed in the Imperial Court. Subsequently, the Bushi performed Housha to the gods and the samurai government performed an initiating ceremony with the Yumi. After that time, the common people performed Housha.

This Housha has been handed down to the present. The reasons why we worship at shrines at Kyudojo, in the precincts of shrines, or worship the Shinto altar at Kyudojo when matches or tournaments take place, should all be clear to you now. I hope you will be able to understand from my explanation.

Additional Note

As Shinto is now considered as one of Japan’s religions, ceremonial shooting tends to be seen as a Shinto ritual. But I think it is better not to regard Shinto as a religion because the main point of Shinto is to "wish for the prosperity of community".

The number of foreigners who worship at Meiji Shrine or Ise Shrine is increasing every year, and I believe this is because more people now understand Shinto.

Regarding the relationship between Shinto and the Yumi, it is a misunderstanding to imagine that the Yumi was a weapon against evil spirits in ancient times. I hope you also understood that there isn't a shooting ceremony for Shinto priests alone, because Honosha has become popular among the common people.

When I demonstrated the Makiwara Sharei last May at the request of the chancellor of UC Irvine, I enshrined a Shinto altar, offered Ofuda from Ise Shrine, offered an evergreen tree branch, and bowed to them, hoping participants to understand Japanese Yumi correctly – Yumi which has been cultivated for 10,000 years. Because I bowed with a righteous mind from my heart, the gods supposedly descended to earth by the help of the evergreen tree branch I offered, and watched my Makiwara Sharei with the participants.

My worship to the altar after the Makiwara Sharei expressed my gratitude to the gods, so they supposedly took accepted my gratitude gladly and returned to heaven along the evergreen tree branch.

Kyudo is a vessel of virtue which trains humanity. It became one of the best ways to form personality of people by adopting good parts from Confucianism and Buddhism as well as good parts of Shinto with flexible way of thinking of ancient Japanese. And I believe that this derived from the respect of the people towards the divine aspects of natural phenomena. I am grateful that my Makiwara Sharei captured your heart, and that you asked me many questions.

I should be grateful if you can introduce Japanese Kyudo correctly to Americans based on my letters.

I made several corrections to "Shooting Nurtures the Mind's Eye," so I will send it to you soon.

Best wishes for your further prosperity.

Sincerely yours,


Ryouji Yokoyama
Consultant to the Board of Directors
Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.

My letter (No. 3)

March 26, 1997

 Dear Mr. E.Clay Buchanan:

I would like to comment on several points which you asked in your letter.

1. Regarding your question No. 1, the explanation by a commentator of Ogasawara style Yumi, saying that "Shooting has a religious meaning." is not clear to me; but I shall ask an Ogasawara-style Yumi learner about the meaning when I have an opportunity.

And I think that historically, the Ogasawara School put more stress on the ritual of ceremonial shooting than on the actual shooting itself; so it seems to me that the explanation by the commentator has no strong ground.

2. Concerning your question No. 2, the idea of Mr. Stephen Selby who is a researcher into Chinese Shooting style, that "in ancient times Yumi was only the weapon against the evil spirits" is wrong from the point of view of the history of Japanese Yumi. Originally, Japanese Yumi was for hunting and after that it was turned its use to weapon when fighting broke out among villages. When unified as a nation, the Yumi became highly-regarded as Shinki (treasures of sacredness), Reiho(treasures of spirits), and Yumi of Bui (courageous dignities).

Along with the rise of the Samurai (Warrior) class, Samurai were called "Yumi-ya tori" which means "Warrior who deserves handling Yumi" and at the same time it is said that, "the code of the Samurai" is "the code of Yumi-ya" and "Yumi of Bui (courageous dignities)" with high regards for courageous dignities became more popular with the expression of "Butoku (virtue of courage)."

Samurai who take Yumi were expected to acquire this "Butoku (Virtue of courage)" and "Bushou (Samurai Commander)" was asked to acquire "Jintoku (Personal virtue)" which is derived from "Butoku (Virtue of courage)."

One of the typical Busho with Jintoku (benevolence) in history was Minamoto Yoshiie (d. 1106) who had high reputation as a Bushou (Samurai Commander) of virtue with loyalty and courage.

"Bui(courageous dignity)" changed to "Butoku" and to admire the "Toku (Virtue)", following words were written in Kyudo Textbook first edition of page 23, as Samurai Commander Minamoto Yoshiie dedicated his Yumi as a symbol of his meritorious service in the two serial wars (one called the Former Nine-year War and another called the Latter Three-year War) to the retired Emperor Shirakawa, who was ill in bed. This clearly explains the idea of ‘unification between Yumi itself and vessel of virtue of the Samurai’ which started at that time.

It was said that the retired Emperor Shirakawa recovered from the illness thanks to the "Butoku" of the dedicated Yumi by Afinamoto Yoshiie. He did so by plucking the dedicated bow’s string three times (known as "Meigen") to pray for a quick recovery when Emperor Horikawa got sick.

Because of this, Emperor Horikawa recovered and it was said that Yumi was often used for expelling evil spirits.

In other words, people believed that the Butoku (virtue of courage) of Yumi dispersed diseases This belief arose during the past 1000 years A.D. so we do not call this ‘ancient times’ in Japan.

I hope the above helps your understanding.


Ryouji Yokoyama
Consultant to the Board of Directors
Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.

My letter (No. 4)

March 30, 1997

Re: Sending a Copy of "Mizugaki"

Dear Mr. E.Clay Buchanan:

Ise Shrine, which is a spiritual base for the Japanese People, celebrated its 20 centennial last year. Many events took place at Ise Shrine to celebrate its 20th Centennial, and "Mizugaki" published by the shrine included many topics based on the events.

I was assigned to write an article entitled "Japanese spirit through Yumi" for this special edition. This is the greatest honour for a Japanese, so I gladly accepted it. Looking back, the Makiwara Sharei I performed at Irvine Campus last May could have been regarded as one of the celebrations for the year of the shrine's 20 centennial.

I asked Ise Shrine's public relations manager comment on the idea of placing the picture of the Makiwara Sharei which I performed in the United States, and got his approval. I hope this will be a big honour to you and your wife, who kindly assisted my performance.

I wrote the article wholeheartedly and it was on page 99 of "Mizugaki’s" early spring special edition. You are actually in the picture in page 101, but probably it is hard to recognise yourself in the picture. Because the cover of "Mizugaki" is features a really heart-warming of a Shinto priest, I decided to send the magazine itself, not a copy of it.

Other than my article, there is an article about Yabusame (shooting on horseback) on page 42. You will understand if you read several articles, but the gods of Shinto definitely lie in the hearts of Japanese people.

I hope you can understand the difference between Shinto and other religions.

Hopefully, this issue of "Mizugaki" will be kept as one of your family mementoes.

I also hope that you understand Japanese Kyudo and you strive for further learning of Kyudo.

Sincerely yours,

Ryouji Yokoyama
Consultant to the Board of Directors
Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.

March 28, 1997

To: Dr. Ryouji Yokoyama

From: EClay Buchanan

Subject: Thankyou letter.

Dear Dr. Yokoyama:

Spring has arrived in California. The Cherry trees in front of my house already have many flowers.

I am very sorry I have not written sooner. I want to thank you very much for your wonderful letters which Yoshiko reads to me. They help me very much to understand Shinto and Kyudo. Shinto is very difficult for Western people to understand because it is very different from Christianity. Your letters explain how Shinto started from ancient rituals when Japan was a farming society, so that many of the kyudo rituals we see today are related to very old rituals and beliefs of the Japanese people.

Your letters were so interesting to me that I have purchased a book called "A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine" by Mr. John K. Nelson. This is a book about all the rituals performed at the Suwa Shrine in Nagasaki during one year period. This book is very helpful to me. As I read about the rituals practised at the Suwa Shrine, I can see many things that are very similar to many of the movements we perform today in Kyudo. It was very interesting to me to read about "Ugigami" and how the small Japanese villages would perform rituals for the Ugigami.

Although I know very little about Shinto, it seems from your letters that Shinto really means "The Way of the Kami" just as Kyudo means "The Way of the Bow". I can see that there are three values which are emphasised in Shinto, harae (purification), makoto (sincerity) and kansha (gratitude). Therefore, Shinto rituals are constructed to emphasise these values in people.

Also, an important time for Shinto was the Heian period in Japan when many Shinto shrine were built. During the Heian period the Japanese ruling class developed Kyudo rituals and so it is natural that many Shinto concepts were incorporated into Kyudo at that time and can still be seen today . If Kyudo means "Shooting is life" and if Shinto is a major force in the life of the Japanese people then I am sure that Kyudo has many Shinto elements in it which would be good for non-Japanese students to study.

Currently. I am very busy with my Kyudo information page on the INTERNET. My information page is now published on the World Wide Web (WWW) and is being read by many kyudo students all over the world. I am very happy to make this information available to everyone. When you are ready I would be very happy to publish your article, "Shooting Nurtures the Mind’s Eye" on my web page on the INTERNET. I'm sure many Kyudo students will enjoy reading it. The address of my web page is "" if you want to read it.

I am now studying in more detail about Shinto rituals and I now understand that a Shinto ritual can be performed by someone who is not a Shinto priest as long as that person understands the basic principles of Shinto and has performed the correct purification ceremonies and has a sincere spirit.

I am sure I will have more questions in the future so I apologise in advance for bothering you! Gomen nasai.

Thank you very much for all your kind assistance.


E. Clay Buchanan

June 22, 1997

To: Dr. Ryouji Yokoyama
Consultant to the Board of Directors
Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd

From: E.Clay Buchanan:

Subject: Question answers.

Dear Dr. Yokoyama;

I hope the Summer weather in Japan is not too hot and the rain is mild.

I want to thank you very much for your latest answers to my questions about Shinto and kyudo and also for your previous 4th letter to me. Your latest letter was very clear and explained how ceremonies, such as Yabusame, are actually performed for the entertainment of the Shinto gods and so are not actually religious ceremonies by themselves. I have been studying books on the Shinto religion and I now understand why food, and sake in addition to dancing or other entertainment is performed as part of Shinto ceremonies.

With this understanding I now have a much clearer view of the purpose and history of modern day Shinto rituals.

I believe that your explanation of kyudo and Shinto rituals would be of great benefit to many non-Japanese kyudo archers as such information is very difficult to find in English. I would be very happy to proof-read your English explanation and send my suggestions to you for your approval. When your document is finished then I would be very grateful if you would allow me to


I am very happy that my visit to UC Irvine, during which I presented a demonstration of the makiwara sharei and lectures related to Japanese kyudo, enabled me to introduce the proper form of Japanese kyudo in the English language. It would please me very much if my English texts serve as a contribution to the study of kyudo.

During the preparation of this manuscript, I received assistance from Meiji Shrine, Shiseikan Dojo (martial arts training hall) Director Inaba and Shibata Shinto Priest. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan, Heather Miyazaki of the Hitachi Chemical Research Centre, and Mr. Yokoi and Ms. Sasahara of Hitachi Chemical assisted me with English translations. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest thanks for their contributions.

Dr. Ryouji Yokoyama


President of the All Nippon University
Students Kyudo Federation
Regent's Lecturer, University of California

Consultant to the Board of Directors
Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.

Up-dated 18 July, 2000