Badass Japanese Archery: Now It’s The Ladies’ Turn
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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 two-photo composite — map & image data
Every Little Bit
as badass as the guys

In yesterday's “Colorful Ladies' Wardrobe” post we looked at some of the young ladies preparing for their turn at traditional Japanese archery at the rite-of-passage event described in “Total Discipline: Anatomy of a Japanese Archer's Shot”. Before and after their turn they were as lively as you'd expect a bunch of twenty-year-old girls to be, but on the shooting platform they were all business, every bit worthy to appear along the likes of the guy seen in “More Badass Japanese Archery”.

I'd been disappointed early on when I was driven out by the ridiculous crowds just before the ladies started, but after having left for lunch, I decided to return toward the end, and found it substantially less crowded. (It was still ridiculously crowded, and I spent half the time letting old ladies stand on the chair I'd brought), but overall I could see quite a bit: the last 100 (of more than 1,000) women, then the instructors, then the “playoffs” for the guys, then for the girls. So note to self: next year, drop in at the end.

The earlier “Total Discipline” post may be helpful in following the next sequence...

a female Japanese archer prepares to shoot at the rite-of-passage Tooshiya archery event at the Sanjusangedo Temple in Kyoto, Japan, January 2012 (三十三間堂の通し矢)
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Staredown
Vertical Desktop-Background Versions
1050×1680  ·  1200×1920  ·  1600×2560

(With my lack of skill in wielding the 300mm at f/2, many of these are soft or out of focus, but the lady's presence is so compelling that I've gone and made a couple of these into desktop backgrounds.)

a female Japanese archer prepares to shoot at the rite-of-passage Tooshiya archery event at the Sanjusangedo Temple in Kyoto, Japan, January 2012 (三十三間堂の通し矢)
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Setup
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Initial Aim

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Horizontal Adjustment

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Vertical Adjustment
with what little focus the photo has on the tip of the arrow
( an idea that had merit, but didn't work out )

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Release

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/2500 sec, f/2, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Slight Emotion
Look of satisfaction?

These photos were from the playoff round, so out of more than a thousand women who participated, she was one of about a dozen women who had hit the target during the day. (It seemed to me that many more than that hit the target, so maybe one had to get a full-on bull's eye to progress to the playoffs. I don't know.)

She progressed to the next round after this shot, so if any emotion leaks out it should be of satisfaction, but it's hard to tell. The lead photo in this post is from the following round to determine the winner, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a difficult time following the announcements of who won, so I don't know how she did. I do know that I'd certainly love to present her with copies of these photos some day.

Continued here...


All 9 comments so far, oldest first...

I am always moved, and impressed, with your photography. The subject matter reflects those things most visitors to Japan just skim over or skip altogether. I am please you got these. I like the women better than men, doing the same thing. I am trying to get one of these archer pictures as a background for my iMac.

Keep up the good work.

— comment by Abraham Lincoln on January 24th, 2012 at 10:10am JST (5 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your series and impressed by all the good shots you were able to get. I myself always enjoy the women — there is something about the combination of strength and grace that gets me, but that’s just me. I am glad you were brave and stuck it out, even coming back later. I think I won’t be back for many years again, so it’s good to have your pictures to get a sense of the overall event.

— comment by GJC on January 24th, 2012 at 3:20pm JST (5 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Congratulation, this is the best series of shot of the event so far!
I actually really like the picture “Vertical Adjustment”!

— comment by Gianluca on January 24th, 2012 at 5:12pm JST (5 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

EVERY LITTLE BIT: That lady looks siiiiiickk!!!! (In the good way.) In her tricked out archery kimono she makes ‘badass’ look like grandma’s garden tea social. I think I may have to add this woman to my, “Honey, I’m sorry if this woman asked me, I’d have to leave you for her” list. But she’d have to wear that kimono and archery outfit everyday.

Great photo, JF. wonderful colors. Blurred but contextual background. Wonderful poise/expression of the subject. Great lines: the bow; the arrow, black folds in the dress, blue lines radiating out from feet.

What a wonderful and exotic place it is; where you live and photograph. While, you’ve often said that you don’t consider yourself an artist. You have a flair and talent for these big social events. Please keep pursuing them because your artistic style is becoming apparent in them.

— comment by Ron Evans on January 25th, 2012 at 1:05am JST (5 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

What’s amazing is how that girl can still look major league “badass” (love that American expression) with that pink silk floral thing on top.
Guess you don’t argue with a kid and her bow and arrow no matter what she’s wearing…
Can”t wait for the next post on this -on the edge of the seat stuff, Jeffrey!!!

— comment by Annie in London on January 25th, 2012 at 7:16am JST (5 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Woa! These are stunning, what a great set and the colour pop is incredible, well done a beautiful series of images! I’ll be back!

— comment by Shotslot on January 25th, 2012 at 9:40pm JST (5 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Fantastic and amazing pictures !! I like !!! Pascal P. (France)

— comment by Anonymous on February 12th, 2012 at 3:25am JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I love your blog and photographs. They give a nice glimpse into Japanese culture.
(writing from southern U.S.A.)

— comment by Darkoshi on February 13th, 2012 at 1:12am JST (5 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’ll be visiting Kyoto next month and would like very much to attend an archery event like this one 🙂 Do you know where can I look for info about that? Thanks in advance and congratulations for your wonderful pictures
Eduardo Lisboa/Portugal

The only event like this (with such colorful kimono) that I know of is this annual event in January, but a visit to the Budo Center in Kyoto might find folks practicing. I’m sure there are other places and events, but it’s not something I’m up on. —Jeffrey

— comment by Eduardo Pinheiro on October 1st, 2014 at 6:40am JST (3 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink
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