An International Surprise
A unique festival in Fort Dodge this September was cause for great
celebration. The International Horse Archery Festival was the host to
two Japanese demonstrators of traditional horse archery. Each presenter
brought with them grace, elegance and great honor to the event.
They were Misa Tsuyoshi of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin (originally from
Japan/Yamanashi Kanagawa Prefecture) and Naoko Oshida of Tokyo, Japan.
Both of the Japanese female horse archers were sponsored by the Iowa
Sister States organization with grant funding. The archers represented
the Takedaryu School, which strictly keeps and teaches Japanese
traditional horse archery.
Each day, Tsuyoshi and Oshida would thrill the crowds with their
authentic costume, archery accessories and decorative gear for the horse
they rode. The daily performances had Naoko lead in with a small drum
and four members of a kyudo school. Authentic looking targets (made of
paper or wood shingles), flowers and course apparatus gave a true
appearance to what a performance would be like in Japan. Misa would ride
on her horse down the roped off track at great speed. With perfect
timing, she would set her arrow to her bow and release with great
accuracy as it striked the target perfectly. The kyudo performers would
signify if her hit were successful with the raising of a flag at each
target. Before her first run with the horse, Naoko would beat the drum a
few times to let the kyudo members know Misa is ready and they would
respond with the signal of a large, colorful fan.
Images representing Japan were evident throughout the festival site with
colorful kimonos and large Japanese banners with traditional symbols. A
large cake was presented in their honor at the dinner in which the
dragonfly was displayed alongside the cake. This is the symbol of the
Takedaryu horse archery school in Japan. They use the dragonfly to
represent their "Samurai spirit".
It was an honor to have both Misa Tsuyoshi and Naoko Oshida at our
event. We hope to have more presentations of the Japanese culture at the
festival in the future. This year would not have been possible without
the generosity of the Iowa Sister States organization, Laura Zaper of
Des Moines and Mary Sula Linney, Iowa Central Community College of Fort
Dodge. Our festival was spectacular this year because we were treated to
such a unique cultural experience of skill, grace and sharing of