In the early scenes from the first scroll our intrepid Samurai are shown with their Japanese bows and arrows. These were integral to the arsenal of weapons available to Samurai and a thorough understanding of kyujutsu (bow technique) was considered essential.
The bow (yumi) is made of a laminate of woods and is asymmetrical with the top being much longer than the bottom. This design assisted archers on horseback as they could more easily fire from either side of the horse.
The arrows (Ya) are traditionally made of bamboo. Every Ya has a gender (male ya are called haya; female ya, otoya); with the fletchings being made from feathers from alternate sides of the bird, the haya spins clockwise upon release while the otoya spins counter-clockwise. The feathers from eagle or hawk were preferred.
|Binding the fletchings onto the arrow shaft|
Once the arrow is released, the grip on the bow is loosened allowing the bow to spin in the left hand so that the string stops in front of the archer's outer left forearm. This action is a fascinating combination of technique and the natural working of the bow. It is unique to kyujutsu.
Below is just one of many clips on Youtube featuring traditional Japanese archery: