Kyudo - Japanese Archery

The yumi (Japanese bow) is exceptionally tall (standing over two meters), surpassing the height of the archer. Yumi are traditionally made of bamboo, wood and leather using techniques which have not changed for centuries, although some archers (particularly, those new to the art) may use synthetic (i.e. laminated wood coated with glassfiber or carbon fiber) yumi. Even advanced kyudoka may own non-bamboo yumi and ya because of the vulnerability of bamboo equipment to extreme climates.

The suitable height for yumi depends on the archer's draw (yazuka) which is about half the archer's height. Ya (矢) shafts were traditionally made of bamboo, with either eagle or hawk feathers. Most ya shafts today are still made of bamboo (although some archers will use shafts made of aluminum or carbon fibers), and ya feathers are now obtained from non-endangered birds such as turkeys or swans. The length of an arrow is the archer's yatsuka plus 6-10 centimeters. Every ya has a gender (male ya are called haya; female ya, otoya); being made from feathers from alternate sides of the bird, the haya spins clockwise upon release while the otoya spins counter-clockwise. Kyudo archers usually shoot two ya per round, with the haya being shot first. It is often claimed that the alternate spinning direction of the arrows would prevent two consecutive identically shot arrows from flying identically and thus colliding.