Tag Archives: Kyudo

Joyful interaction with school children and the spirituality of Japanese archery

Helena about to shoot a Japanese yumi bow in Omura
Helena about to shoot a Japanese yumi bow in Omura

This day started with me not being able to wake up, even though I slept for 9 hours! Which is probably the last time I can sleep that much during the program as I am a counselor.

The breakfast was so delicious I suddenly realized why I wanted to wake up. After quick preparation and hurrying with my host mom, I got dropped off next to Nijinohara school. My host mom happens to work in the school that stands next to the one we were going to visit that morning, so I was glad I didn’t take time from her usual morning.

We met in front of the school and the activity day could start. This school is a bit different from the other schools we visit with World Campus Japan. It’s a school for children with special needs and that was recognizable from the beginning. For me it meant a huge joy. We lined up and the children high fived us while entering the school and even that was a wonderful experience. We were given a chance to see how excited these kids can be and how much they can give you just by smiling. The whole experience was really emotional for me as I really love spending time with happy people and these kids are just glowing with joy.

One of the teachers lectured us about how the school works and what not to do around the kids. We even had a tour around the school and I must say: how much creativity they use to teach the kids is really impressive. Every kid has the attention needed.

Next, it was our turn to introduce ourselves and perform for the kids. Even though we practiced just a little bit the day before and our positions changed, it went well. The amazingly performed Alele by Daniel was an even better icebreaker.

After dividing to 3 groups we were assigned to a specific classrooms. I was with the 3rd years. On the way to the classroom two of the kids wanted to hold my hand and walk with me. I couldn’t feel happier. The teachers took like thousands of pictures of the three of us. I made new friends right in that moment. The class had its own program for us and everything was fun, mainly watching the kids being sooo excited. Their joy was almost visible as waves of energy in the air. But I would prefer not doing the whole “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” four times in a row and singing it with a microphone while doing so. The tempo of that song was changing in a weird way but the kids didn’t seem to mind.

Lunch was the last thing that awaited us in that school. My group was eating in the cafeteria and the system of Japanese school cafeteria is just amazing. Almost every system like that is really well done in Japan. Maybe this system was a bit adjusted for the kids but that makes it even more amazing. We ate curry and drank milk. The portion was so big I just couldn’t finish all of it, so I gave the rest to someone else. Together with my jelly. Even while eating, the kids were coming to us and introducing themselves. They always tried their very best.

Then we said our thanks and were headed to a dojo for Kyudo. The dojo had a tradition to follow when entering and leaving which was the first sign of the spiritual nature of what was about to happen. A very well done lecture about Kyudo was given by the masters and then they helped us getting in the traditional clothes. We looked so cool in those. I felt really confident while wearing it.

Kyudo has exact steps to follow before and after shooting the arrow. Following them has a spiritual meaning to it and some of us really enjoyed this part of Japanese style of archery. I enjoyed the feeling that it’s not as hard as it looks. After a short practice without the arrows we were able to shoot. Not once. Not twice. Multiple times. I couldn’t hit the exact target anyway. But still it was really interesting and rewarding. Literally. We received an award for hitting a balloon, or in my case, for trying hard. And also other gifts. Japanese people are too kind.

When we left we had some time before our host families would come pick us up so we went for ice cream! What a nice ending of a long day. Even more so thanks to the deliciousness of the ショップドチョコレート (chipped chocolate) flavor.

For dinner with my host family we went to a sushi place and of course it was also delicious. It really felt like a dinner with family. Everyone was exhausted but still enjoying the presence of one another. I always try to remind them that they need to sleep more but they never listen!

We sang together on the way back and were welcomed by a loud “wan wan”. Honey, the dog, barks all the time. It’s like a little black sheep trying to gain some respect. After taking a shower I went to my room and now I can enjoy a nice sleep in this huge bed.

Helena Raichartová
(Czech Republic)

Visiting Nijinohara Special Education School and trying out kyudo

Activities with the kids at Nijinohara
Activities with the kids at Nijinohara

The first stop today day was a Special Education School in Oomura called Nijinohara. We stayed there the whole morning and after lunch we went to a dojo to learn about kyudo, which is basically Japanese archery and a form of Japanese martial art.

This was my second time visiting Nijinohara with World Campus Japan, and I have some great memories from last time so I was very much looking forward to being able to go there again. At the school we were welcomed by several curious faces and some enthusiastic “Hello!”:s. After introducing ourselves and dancing a bit for the children, it was time to split up to different classes and do some team activities together. First, we had a little chat and question session to get familiar with each other. Then we engaged in a chair racing competition followed by an English word game. There were many students that were very excited and wanted to interact, and there were some who were a bit more shy or reserved, but one thing that was very clear was that everyone wanted to be a part of the activities.

Some of the children didn’t at all use their voice to communicate, so when it was time for self-presentations the teachers helped them with reading the presentation. Others needed help from teachers or their friends to stand up, sit down and move around. It made me so happy to see everyone working together to make sure to include all of the students in the activities. I had a great time and the students seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.

In the afternoon, having arrived at the dojo we got to listen to a lecture about kyudo and see a demonstration performed by the teachers. Then we got to change into kyudo clothes and try the technique ourselves. First, we went through the basic steps using a practice bow consisting of a handle with a string attached to it. After that we got to practice with real bows and eventually line up to shoot with the teachers’ help. Keeping the arrow in place was a bit tricky and drawing the bow required a certain amount of strength, but I enjoyed the challenge and I think we all had a lot of fun.

Sofia Larborn (Sweden)

Kyudo with World Campus – Japan

World Campus – Japan visit many different places every year, some change and some stay the same, but one of the things we always come back to is Kyudo(弓道 kyūdō ). Today Juuso and Cameron talks about their experience with Kyudo.

The Kyudo Experience

zuvan shooting kyudo in omura

Today was a day well spent. I’ve done archery before, but never like this. I’ve never been more determined to hit a tree or a balloon than today. The feeling of accomplishment when I finally did was spectacular. I’ll explain why:

Kyudo has a rich history behind it and the Japanese people have made sure that it has stayed that way. The idea that every bow has a soul was also beautiful. Watching the dojo master’s demonstration was breathtaking to say the least. Then having a chance to do it myself was a whole different feeling. It didn’t matter if I won a prize or not, I just wanted to stay there and shoot as many arrows as my weak muscles would allow me to.

When one of the archers spoke about why they chose Kyudo, everything that they said I completely agreed with. That feeling of wanting to do better each time, the urge to continue even when you fail, not allowing failure to stop you but rather push you to do better tomorrow. Getting the chance to step in their shoes and really take on Kyudo was truly a luxury.

It’s hard to decide on part that was the most fun because everything about today was amazing. Those of us in World Campus Japan are truly lucky, having the chance that no other program gets to have. It’s an experience I will never forget. Maybe I’ll even continue with it.

Aimee Morales (USA)