Yabusame is mounted archery that is both sport (martial arts) and religious ritual. The earliest samurai were mounted archers and Yabusame was a way to keep up their skills. In Shinto, Yabusame is done to entertain the gods in return for blessings or divinations of the future.
November 3rd is a public holiday known as Culture Day (Bunka no Hi) and at Meiji Shrine in Harajuku they do Yabusame where they shoot at hardened paper targets and small clay pots.
Matsuri or Japanese Festivals are wild and wonderful events and should be on anyone's itinerary for a Japanese trip. There are festivals going on every month.
Here's a list of my videos on various Japanese festivals and events that I have been to. This may be useful for those coming to Japan who would like to see such events. I've been to many more so if you have a question about a festival just ask.
Here are videos of me retelling old Japanese ghost stories plus true ghost stories from elsewhere.
In Old Japan Ghost Stories were a form of natural air conditioning. Summers are hot and humid in Japan and so ghost stories were traditionally told during this unbearable season to help cool the blood and send cold shivers down the spine
Tokyo Decadance is an eclectic mix of the underground scene in Tokyo with cyber, goth, punk, fetish, salaryman, and whatnot mixing it up and having a great time.
In this collection of Tokyo Decadance Vids, you'll see some wildly-dressed people dancing, girls kissing, a board nailed to someone's tongue, a cigarette lit by a powertool with the sparks in they guy's face, sword swallowing, bug eating, beer can eating, Santa Claus, and much more oddity.
Setsubun is a Japanese tradition on February 3rd where Japanese drive out bad luck in the form of devils known as oni. They throw beans and shout: "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" which means "Devils out! Good luck in!"
Setsubun is like New Year's, Halloween, and a bit of Groundhog day are mixed into one. Originally Setsubun was the Lunar New Year's Eve and was seen as the first day of Spring despite still being dead in winter but like Groundhog Day there' that wishful thinking for Winter to end soon. It's like Halloween because people will wear devil (oni) masks especially fathers in their homes and children will thrown beans to "banish" them. At temples and shrines you can get beans, mochi, and other sweets thrown to (or rather at) you.
The tradition goes back to the 8th or 9th century and was originally from China.
Many temples and shrines have Setsubun activities and they do mame-maki, throwing of beans and other items to gathered crowds. Sometimes celebrities and sumo wrestlers participate.
It's one of my favorite traditions in Japan and I always go somewhere for the event. This is a series of videos I have shot of Setsubun activities as various temples and shrines in and around Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Shikoku, etc... See devils, gods, celebs, sumo wrestlers, and geisha in the very unique tradition of Setsubun.