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The Art of Archery in Tokyo

The Art of Archery in Tokyo

When our friend Alex said “Hey you wanna go to archery?”, beautiful pictures of emancipated women gracefully manipulating bows and arrows came to my mind.

Maybe Tomek had the same images in his head as we both said “Yes, we wanna go to archery!” and off we went coming Sunday.

Remember that cute girl from the Hunger Games, gorgeous Merida from the Brave movie? All those characters surely had my undivided attention when engaged in the art of archery. One of the most fascinating ancient Greek heroines are Amazons, the female warriors who would cut off their right breast in order to facilitate muscle growth to the right shoulder and arm, as a way to improve their hunting and fighting skills with bows and arrows.

Who is the better dressed anyway?

Tokyo, Japan


I read that archery is the sport ‘for people who hate sports‘ and I certainly qualified – with a sensitive ballet and delicate yoga background. A fantastic feature of archery, there is no unnecessary body contact, no pushing nor chasing. Nevertheless archery delivers just the same adrenaline rush as knocking someone down on the baseball field.

A further advantage was solely my gender, as apparently girls excel at archery. This caused even more excitement. Girls are known to be better listeners, showing better body awareness as many have taken dance (tick!), gymnastics (tick!) or yoga classes (tick!) before.

I surely did attentively listen to my sensei and I tried to follow instructions. In Japanese. I learned the words hana (nose) and ago (chin) in Japanese. With a lot of help from Mai, a cheerful girl we just met and an absolute happy nature, Mai is a pleasure to be around.

For Mai


Having a laugh with Mai, putting on archery gear, being in a park reflecting autumn colours, basically… this is where the charm ends and the hard work begins.

Archery is an art and surely satisfies perfectionists but grace is not found easily. Pressing shoulder blades together and holding the solid wooden bow  is a heavy endeavour. Mai, also an archery newcomer, did pretty well – which is an understatement.

Tokyo, Japan


The bow string has got to be pulled way up to your nose, sort of squashing through it, as well as pushing against your chin. Not attractive at all. To shoot straight arrows, steady and strong arms are of advantage. After having pulled the string to the face, the arrow must be held in place while targeting before releasing it with totally relaxed shoulders. Turns out I have little upper body strength.

Tokyo, Japan


Watching a perfect shot arrow to go exactly where intended, is a cool feeling, but… I am a beginner. Enough said.


There are various difficulty levels – as archery virgins we were standing closer to the target than others.

Tokyo, Japan


Watch my knight shoot.


Apart from unwanted piercings, did I tell you about another danger of archery we were looking out for after spotting this…

Tokyo, Japan


Location: Hikarigaoka Park
The nearest stations are Narimasu (Tobu Tojo Line), Chikatetsunarimasu (Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin and Yurakucho Lines) and Hikarigaoka (Oedo Line). From there it still is a good 10 minute walk to the site.

Admission: 350 yen (equipment and introduction included in price). You pay through a Japanese vending machine!

Getting our archery tickets through the Japanese vending machine.

Once we arrived, we were greeted by elderly staff. One managed the reception and gave us tags, another one gave out the equipment and another one taught us how to hold the bow and shoot the arrows.

Enrolling in Japanese. Our names transcribed in Katakana.

Tokyo, Japan


We got bows, arrows, arm guards, finger guards and breast guards. We then proceeded to the shooting range. We were taught the basics, from using the equipment and proper posture, to safety precautions, like not pointing a bow with an arrow loaded-in at anywhere but the target. Not shooting more than 5 arrows at a time, safely removing the arrows by watching your back, waiting until everybody finished collecting their arrows, not walking outside the white line during the shooting.

Tokyo, Japan


Resume: I didn’t pierce anyone, apart from myself, I hit the target at least some of the time, and I had comparable sensations to ziplining through jungle, with the clear advantage of having both feet firmly on the ground. The magic of archery. I will be back.


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