Monday was Coming of Age Day in Japan. People “come of age” at 20 and everybody celebrates on the same day. Each city has a big ceremony and everybody dresses up smart (I think most of the women wear expensive Kimono’s).

In Sanjuusangendou Temple (one of the places I visited in Kyoto in a previous post) they have a special archery contest for women who are coming of age (presumably they also need to be good at archery). Archery in Japan is a big traditional activity (it’s called Kyudo). The target is 120 meters away. By way of contrast, in the Olympics it’s 70 meters.

I suspect that the competition is more of a ceremony. While at Wakayama Castle (the subject of another post in the future) I came across details of an archery contest held there in 1686. The contest consisted of firing arrows from 6pm until sunset the next day. A world record that hasn’t been broken was set of 8,133 targets. I’m guessing that the “targets” weren’t tiny or anything but it’s still quite a feat of endurance as it’s an average of around 9 arrows per minute. Unless the day were longer back then…

This video gives you an idea of what I (and you) missed. It also gives you an idea of Coming of Age Day dress. I like the way they point their fingers while holding the bow. I don’t think they do that in the Olympics.