Archery Rituals in Classical Japan
by SUZUKI Hiroyuki
Talk given at the Dec. 8-9, 2010 Conference
In this paper I will discuss archery rituals, of which there were two types in classical Japan: standing archery and mounted archery. My focus will be on standing archery, as practiced during three annual court events: the Jarai (1/17), the Noriyumi (1/18) , and the Iba hajime (10/5). In earlier research, standing archery has been studied as one part of these events, especially in the work of Kurabayashi Masaji. In his research, Kurabayashi introduced the topic of royal banquets in which the monarch made his relationship with his subordinates visible through New Year’s events. Obinata Katsumi argued that standing archery was particularly important in the structure of the ritsuryô polity, and he has discussed the various events where it occurred as well as its diachronic development in the larger context of comparisons with other East Asian realms. Taking this earlier work as my base, I will look at standing archery from a different perspective. On New Year’s Day in 825, the monarch Junna Tennō (r. 823-33) called the Jarai event “a particularly important ceremony for the realm.” While this event is described in ritual handbooks, we can also see how courtiers thought about it by considering entries from the journals wherein they wrote about it. I will discuss some of those today.