One with the bow


One of the finest books about Japan written by a foreigner is Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel. In his book Mr. Herrigel describes his experiences with kyudo in the 1930's. It is a beautifully written account that has been translated into many languages, giving people worldwide their first glimpse of this elegant art.

Now, NHK has produced a TV program called One with the bow that has won several prestegious awards this year in the U.S.

Englishman Liam O'Brien takes a Japanese bow back to Kumamoto Prefecture in southwest Japan to ask the man who made it, master bowyer Shigemasa Matsunaga, if the bow is in peak condition. Preparing to go for the eighth-rank trials that would make him a kyudo master, O'Brien also seeks to confirm his own fitness for the coming ordeal from this dedicated craftsman who has made 20,000 bows, but not one of which has fully satisfied him. In O'Brien, though, he sees an archer worthy of the very best bow he can make.

Read more about NHK's programs here.

For a lecture on "Evil-Destroying Yumi" please read on here. A quote:

Know yourself. Know your mind first and then you can practice kyudo. If your mind is right you will hit the target naturally. It is the same in your whole life, not only in kyudo. If you are always wondering about the target or the result, nothing good can be accomplished. If you always look at yourself first - your own feet, your own basis, then things will naturally go right. The word "do" in kyudo means "way". This concept of "do" is difficult to talk about. To practice the way of kyudo is very difficult, although people think it is easy. This is also true for the way of flowers, tea and so on. The practice of "do" has no concept of a goal. The kind of kyudo I would like you to understand is not based on becoming better and better. This discipline is a means of cleaning or polishing your own mind through self-reflection.

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