Takeda-ryu school (武田流)
Takeda-ryu is one of the schools of the Kyuba-gunrei Kojitsu (Japanese ancient practices of customs about archery, equestrian and military etiquette). This school was also called Hosokawa-ryu (Hosokawa school). Just the same as Ogasawara-ryu school, the school inherits Kyuba kojitsu (the ancient practices of customs about archery and equestrianism) that Yabusame represents.
The three associations which come from the same origin, Takeda-ryu Kisha Yabusame (Takeda-ryu Kisha Yabusame Preservation Society, Kumamoto City), The Takeda School of Horseback Archery (The Japan Equestrian Archery Association, Kamakura City) and Takeda-ryu Kamakura school (Japanese traditional archery on horseback association, Kamakura City) are active identifying themselves as Takeda-ryu school.
The following is the summery of the history of Takeda-ryu, although the three associations have slightly different traditions.
From the origin to the Azuchi Momoyama Period
The origin is said to be that Imperial Prince Sadazumi, a son of Emperor Seiwa received the instruction of the ancient practices from MINAMOTO no Yoshiari (a son of Emperor Buntoku) who was familiar with manners of the Imperial Court. Then it was handed down to the Takeda clan and the Ogasawara clan through Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan). Among the Takeda clan, it was handed down to the Takeda clan of Aki, Aki Takeda clan. When the Aki Takeda clan held Wakasa shugoshiki (the military governor of Wakasa Province), the Tekeda clan of Wakasa, Wakasa Takeda clan inherited the ancient practices. When the Wakasa Takeda clan collapsed in the Azuchi Momoyama period, it was handed down to Yusai HOSOKAWA (called Yusai), through Nobunao TAKEDA (called Kyushosai), who was a relative of Yusai (see below).
Among the Wakasa Takeda clan, Motonobu, Motomitsu and Nobutoyo TAKEDA excelled in horseback archery and they copied or wrote the books of Kyuba Kojitsu. After Nobutoyo, his successors Nobutoki, Nobuyasu and Nobunao TAKEDA were not shown in the general record of Wakasa Takeda clan, and the biography of Nobunao is unknown.
As for the connection between the Wakasa Takeda clan and the Hosokawa clan, Yusai's older sister married Nobutaka TAKEDA (a military commander, called Miyagawa Dono, the castellan of Wakasa Shibo Yama), who was the younger brother of Nobutoyo TAKEDA. Nobutaka, also excelled in horseback archery, handed down the book of Kyuba Kojitsu and his son Eiyu EIHO possessed many books of Kojitsu.
Takeda-ryu Kyubado (Kamakura City) insists 'Yusai's younger sister married Nobushige from the Aki Takeda clan' (considered a father of Mitsuhiro and Ekei ANKOKUJI), 'Nobunao could be a younger brother of Mitsuhiro.'
The Edo Period
After Yusai, his successors Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, then Tadatoshi HOSOKAWA of the Hosokawa family inherited the ancient practices. However, Tadatoshi handed it down to his vassal, Koreshige TAKEHARA. After that, the Takehara family inherited it and at Jishukan, a domain school of the Kumamoto Domain, Yabusame of Takeda-ryu became a compulsory subject along with Nijyo style waka (Japanese traditional poems) and manners. Kasagake (bamboo-hat target shooting), Iinuoumono (dog-hunting event, a skill of an archery), Kusajishi and others were also practiced. By the way, Korechika TAKEHARA (Kanjuro), the fifth generation from Korenari TAKEHARA recommended Katsuna HORI (Heitazaemon), to Shigekata HOSOKAWA, a lord of the domain and Katsuna operated the reformation of domain duties of Shigetaka HOSOKAWA (the reformation of Horeki).
In the Kumamoto Domain, there was the Kyoto Ogasawara clan (the Bizen Ogasawara family) who was the master of Kyuba in the Muromachi period also inherited the ancient practices. However, they ceased the activity after the restoration, and Takeda-ryu Kyubado (Kamakura) took over their costumes, books and so on.
After the Meiji Period
When samurai society came to the end due to Meiji Restoration, Takeda-ryu was temporally stopped the activity but it was preserved by the Takehara family's and former clansmen's effort. In 1895, when Koremichi TAKEHARA died, since there were no men in the family, Yusai's seal, the family record, books and others were put under Baron Tadamasu HOSOKAWA's charge (a lord of the Nagaoka Gyobu family, a relative of the Hotokawa clan) and the Matsui clan (old Karo, the chief retainer family, the eighth castellan) and followers preserved the tradition until they gave them back to Masafumi, the heir of the Takehara family in 1930. In 1961, Masafumi TAKEHARA was designated an intangible cultural property of Kumamoto Prefecture as a holder of Takeda-ryu (Hosokawa-ryu) Kisya-ryu Yabusame technique. In 1971, Takeda-ryu Kisha Yabusame Preservation Society was established in Kumamoto Prefecture and on March 24, 1975, the preservation society was registered as a group of the cultural property designated by Kumamoto Prefecture.
At present, Yojiro TAKEHARA is the '47th Grand Master.'
Besides it, there is another association from the line of Heita INOUE, who was a high-caliber disciple between the Meiji period and the Showa period.
It is said that, after Koremichi TAKEHARA died, Marquis Morihisa HOSOKAWA, a lord of the former Kumamoto clan transmitted all books on the esoterica to Heita INOUE and made him succeed 'the 33rd Takeda-ryu tsukasake family.'
In 1933 Inoue died, and in 1934, his disciple Yurin KANEKO obtained the permission from Marquis Morihisa HOSOKAWA (a head of the Hosokawa family at the time) and inherited 'the 34th tsukasake family of Takeda Kyuba-gunrei Kojitsu' in witness whereof Marquis HOSOKAWA and the governor of Kumamoto Prefecture. In 1939, The Japan Equestrian Archery Association, led by the chairperson Kentaro KANEKO, was established. After that, they have been announcing themselves as the Takeda School of Horseback Archery and operating in Kamakura City.
The current chairperson is Ietaka KANEKO and he announces himself as 'the legitimate Master of Takeda school tsukasake family, Kyuba-gunrei Kojitsu tsukasake Geishu Takeda clan.'
Besides, having Rokuroietaka from Yurin KANEKO as a Master, Japanese Traditional Archery on Horseback Association was established (Takeda-ryu Kamakura school) and they inherits and performs the tradition of Kyuba-gunrei Takeda family.
Takeda-ryu Kisha Yabusame Preservation Society (Kumamoto Prefecture)
They perform in the annual festivals of Izumi-jinja Shrine (held in spring and autumn) in Kumamoto City, 'Kumamoto autumn castle festival' and so on.
The Japan Equestrian Archery Association (Kamakura City)
They are active around mainly Kanto area such as in Tsuruoka Hachiman-gu Shrine Yabusame (Kamakura Festival, Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture), Miura Dosun Matsuri Kasagake (Miura City, Kanagawa Prefecture) and Meiji-jingu Shrine Yabusame Shinto Ritual (Autumn big Festival, Shibuya-ku Ward, Tokyo Metropolis) but they also have overseas performances. In October 2001, when U.S. President Bush visited Japan, they performed Yabusame in Maiji-jingu Shrine. Also they help acting performance of NHK Historical drama an so on.
Japanese Traditional Archery on Horseback Association (Takeda-ryu Kamakura school)
According to Sadatake ISE, Yabusame includes three schools: Ogasawara, Takeda and Miura.
It is said that there are no other differences between Ogasawara and Takeda school except three points: The way of taking out the arrows, Inuoumono shooting style and Yumi bukuro (a bow cover)
However, nowadays, the order of demonstration, shooting form, number of the arrows and the shape of hats are also different from those of Ogasawara school.
The hat used is called Ayai gasa (hat) that samurai wore in hunting or Yabusame in old times. The hats were originally woven with rush, but the ones used in Takeda school have different shape and material (Ogasawara school uses traditional Ayai gasa for Yabusame). In Yabusame as a Shinto ritual, a devil mask is attached on the hat while Ogasawara-ryu school doesn't use the mask.
Jinto-ya arrows, with their ends covered with the barrel-shaped wooden tips instead of arrowheads, are put into the belt and taken out in use (In original Yabusame, kabura-ya arrows with arrowheads are put into a quiver.)
Order of Yabusame demonstration
The following is the part of the ceremony.
Tenchochikyu (the sky and the ground) ceremony
Prior to the horseback archery, it is performed by the first archer in front of the alter, praying for 'the peace, people's health and good harvest.'
While incanting, he draws the bow and pretends to release the Kabura-ya arrow to the sky and the ground.
Using arrows designated to Yabusame, the archer releases the arrows to the targets build in the three places in the riding ground. It takes 20 to 30 seconds for the horse to gallop through. The target is 55cm X 55cm square, made of Japanese cypress board or woven bamboo with paper on it. Then, in Kyosha, a competition among the best archers, two dishes of about 9cm in diameter are put together as a target.
The length of the course: approx. 220 m
The distance to the target: approx. 5.4 to 9m
Space between the targets: approx. 54 to 73m