Japanese archery: The coolest school club ever?
Philip Kendall

Bukatsu, or club activities, are a big part of school life in Japan. In the majority of schools, all kids are required to become a member of a club, be it track and field, judo, or even computer club, and have to attend every session regardless of the time of year and the weather (yes, athletics club kids jog up and down the hallways when it’s raining heavily). Naturally, there are distinct levels of coolness that students are more than aware of when they sign up, with clubs like baseball generally considered to be for the jocks, and soccer-bu for those who want to look good while sharpening their shooting skills.

Japanese archery, or kyūdō to use its native moniker, may not be considered the coolest club to belong to by kids in Japan, but as this video from Japanese culture blogger Danny Choo shows, as far as non-Japanese are concerned, it’s pretty epic, and if we were somehow reincarnated as a Japanese high schooler it’s definitely the club we’d sign up for.

Kyūdō, literally meaning “way of the bow”, dates back to the Yayoi Era (300 BCE – 250 CE), and at one time was an essential part of education under samurai rule. Just like how judo, kendo, and the like have survived as traditional martial arts, kyūdō is steeped in tradition and is much more than simply firing a few sticks at a white circle.

To take a closer look at kyūdō and see a typical school club in action, Danny Choo headed to Yashio High School in Tokyo for his website, Culture Japan.

▼ After slipping on a traditional hakuma, Danny tells us that “50% of people who try this for the first time hurt themselves.” Watch those fingers, sir!

▼ Sato-san shows him the ropes

▼ And soon after Danny takes aim, channelling the force as he does.

▼ So close!

Clearly, it’s not as simple as elk-riding, rooftop-running Prince Ashitaka makes it look.

Here’s Danny’s video in full. We think you’ll agree that this is one of the coolest school clubs any kid could hope to belong to.

I’m beginning to think maybe heading home at 3:30 and playing SNES games until my parents came home and made me do my homework wasn’t the best use of my formative years…

Source/screenshots: YouTube