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Archive for the ‘Martial Arts’ Category

Photo #44 – Kyudo Archer, Face of Determination

Female kyudo archer takes aiim with determined expression

Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly after this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Challenging light and zoomed in far more than would be desired with a handheld shot, I still wanted to share this archer’s image from the Kyoto Budo Center Kyudojo.

I like her focus and determined expression.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #43 – Kyudo Archery Targets at Kyoto Budo Center

Kyudo Archery Targets and Arrows at the Kyoto Budo Center Japanese Archery Range

Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly after this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


The vivid purple curtain hanging down from above was not in place during the regular nighttime practice session I attended a few days earlier at the Kyoto Budo Center’s Kyudojo. It adds a nice dash of color to be sure.

I promise this photo journal is not going to become an all kyudo, all the time website. :-) I just happened to get a heavy dose of kyudo upon my arrival here in Japan.
I hope you enjoy the photos.

Episode 5 of the podcast is not about Japanese kyudo archery.
Unfortunately, it’s about racism.
Not a topic I chose, but one that was thrust upon me when I was refused admittance to an interesting event at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center, the same day this photo was taken
(And yes, I got it on audio.)

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #42 – Five Archers During Kyudo Examination in Kyoto

Five Kyudo Archers at the Kyoto Budo Center

Episode 5 of the Savage Japan Podcast, the racism episode, was recorded at the nearby Kyoto International Community Center shortly after this photo was taken. Episode 5 with its difficult subject matter is proving to be a tough episode to crank out. The current target date for availability is Friday, September 10th. You can hear previous episodes of the Savage Japan Podcast at SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com.


5 kudo archers
lined up during an examination at the Kyoto Budo Center.

I’ve already posted several nighttime images shot during the recording of episode 3 of the podcast, but I couldn’t resist also sharing these photos taken a few days later during a kyudo examination held on a bright sunny day on the east side of Kyoto at the Kyoto Budo Center.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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Photo #17 – Students Cleaning & Closing Kyoto Kyudo Dojo

Cleaning and closing down Kyoto kyhttp://japanphotojournal.com/wp-admin/edit.phpudo archery range

This photo corresponds with Episode 3 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 3 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


These kyudo students are members of one of the kyudo Japanese archery clubs that use the kyudo dojo on the city owned Kyoto Budo Center property.

Participants accept responsibility for maintaining the dojo and the last group to use the facility close up at night.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #16 – Kyudo Archery Students at Kyoto Budo Center

Kyudo lesson at Kyoto Budo Center

This photo corresponds with Episode 3 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 3 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


The Kyoto Budo Center is just a few minutes walk around the southwest corner of Heian Jingu, a famous and frequently visited large shrine on the east side of Kyoto. The Budo Center is owned by the city of Kyoto and the grounds are open to visitors, but I’m sure very few people that visit Heian Jingu ever realize how close they are to this interesting and ancient martial arts training facility.

If you’re fortunate enough to visit the Kyoto Budo Center while training is going on in Butokuden, the oldest martial arts training hall in Japan, you are in for a treat. Butokuden is used by many different martial art groups in Kyoto and is as interesting a place or more so than many of the temples and shrines found in Kyoto.

When I arrived at night, as you can hear in episode 3 of the Savage Japan podcast, giant double doors around Butokuden were open as kendo students practiced inside with their bamboo swords.
[And yes, I will photograph Butokuden in the future. :-) ]

Japanese kyudo archery is practiced in its own dedicated building at the Budo Center and visitors can watch beside a field the archers shoot across. You can see people standing in that area beside the archery field in the zoomed in map I’m placing just below this entry. The archers stand under the roof of the large building on the north side of the archery field. The wall is open and they shoot out to a covered row of targets on the south end of the field.

If you want, you can zoom out a couple of steps with the map below to clearly identify Heian Jingu just to the right of the Kyoto Budo Center.

Photo Details: One of my Kyoto house mates, Sakabe-san, offers kyudo archery guidance to fellow students at the Kyudojo on the grounds of the Kyoto Budo Center.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #15 – Kyudo Archer Releases Arrow at Kyoto Budo Center

Kyudo archer releases his bow at the Kyoto Budo Center

This photo corresponds with Episode 3 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 3 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


This shot of a kyudo archer’s perspective reveals how small the 36 cm wide targets appear 29 meters in the distance.

Unlike western archery where larger targets are used and higher value is placed on hitting closer to the center, in kyudo there are only 2 descriptions used to define the accuracy of a shot, hit or miss.

As it has been explained to me, even in competition there is no significance placed on hitting a target closer to its center, though I suspect Japanese kyudo archers are at least quietly satisfied with themselves when their shots land closer to the center of these very small targets.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #14 – Kyudo Practitioner Kneeling at Kyoto Archery Range

Kyduo archer kneeling at Kyoto Budo Center Archery Range

This photo corresponds with Episode 3 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 3 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


This kyudo student is practicing a ritualized kneeling and approach procedure before releasing her 2 arrows at the Kyoto Budo Center’s kyudo archery range.

Each archer approaches the release area on the floor with 2 arrows. The second arrow to be released is held angled down and away from the body in the right hand as the right hand also draws the first arrow back to be discharged.

Photo Details: The grass takes on an unusually vivid green appearance under the lights at this Kyoto archery range. I lowered the saturation in several of the night photos taken here so the camera’s interpretation of the color doesn’t seem too unnatural. However,  this location does possess a surreal quality at night and the colors in these photos are pretty accurate. That is, assuming you have a fairly decent monitor to view them on.

Unfortunately, laptop screens don’t count as quality monitors (even on high-end MacBooks). Laptops universally use dithered color screens of varying quality, but never “real” color screens. The inability to pay a little more and obtain a “real” screen built-in with a laptop is a big pet peeve of mine and an inconvenience when traveling. I suspect battery life may have something to do with the exclusion of quality screens from laptops, but personally, I would happily trade battery life for a quality screen.

I used up a substantial portion of my largest luggage bag’s weight limit on this trip bringing a decent LCD monitor along, just so I could do accurate color work.

Visiting the Kyoto Budo Center at night is highly recommended if you happen to be in this neighborhood after sunset, especially if you hear sounds coming from inside indicating that activities are underway.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #13 – Kyudo Makiwara Straw Target Practice

Kyudo makiwara straw target practice

This photo corresponds with Episode 3 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 3 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


This practice area in the Kyoto Budo Center’s kyudo training facility allows students to practice and review their form before unleashing arrows on the archery range located at the other end of the dojo. (Photo #12).

There is a large mirror in this room to the right of the student that allows him to look over and check his form while practicing with a makiwara straw target and moving through the 8 steps involved in each arrow’s release.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #12 – Japanese Kyudo Archery, Kyoto Budo Center

Kyudo student at the Kyoto Budo Center

This photo corresponds with Episode 3 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 3 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


My two house mates are both さんだん (san dan) 3rd degree kyudo practitioners. They invited me to visit them at their Kyudo Dojo located within the confines of the Kyoto Budo Center. (I have learned that these 2 words are blended and a kyudo dojo is called a kyudojo in Japanese.)

The centerpiece building at the Kyoto Budo Center is Butokuden, and it looks like it could be used as a set for a historical samurai drama. It was quite mysterious and pleasantly spooky arriving by myself at night as I visited the Budo Center for the first time.

Butokuden’s pairs of large wooden doors were open all around and the dramatic sounds of kendo projected out across the Budo Center grounds as you can hear in episode 3 of the Savage Japan podcast.

Loud stomping from the students reverberates on Butokuden’s wooden floors and manic cries emanate from within this building that looks at first more like a temple than a dojo. I later found out that Butokuden is the oldest standing martial arts training hall in all of Japan. I will definitely be back to photograph Butokuden (not seen in this photo).

Kendo is a bamboo sword recreational activity that many Japanese kids begin practicing in school as a form of physical education. Kendo in its present day sport form is a fairly new invention, a martial art derivative introduced into Japan’s public school system in 1952 and now practiced around the world.

Deeper into the Budo Center’s gated property, I found the kyudojo. I’ve long been intrigued by Japanese kyudo archery, so I feel very fortunate to have access to learning more about it during this visit to Japan.

I have trained for several years in full contact, combat oriented martial art styles. After being immersed in “real” and practical martial arts training for so long (after years of doing the sport stuff earlier), I don’t have much interest in non-combat, sport styles anymore, which 99.9% of all martial arts in the world today are (including Japan). However, kyudo’s calm and meditative discipline is very appealing to me.

Kyudo does have some optional elements of sport competition, but kyudo archery stands out as something completely unique and appealing in its own right. When watching kyudo, it seems to have more in common with meditation than martial arts.

There will definitely be more to come on the topic of kyudo here on this site as well as on the Savage Snow and Savage Japan Podcast.

Photo Details: This photo was one of the first I snapped inside the kyudojo at the Kyoto Budo Center, and I think it turned out to be the best of the shots from this night for presenting the main activity in this exquisite Japanese archery facility.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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