May 31 2019
A Visit to Kasama – Floristry, Crockery and Horseback Archery!
November 3rd 2018 provided a welcome opportunity for a return trip to Kasama in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Each year, from mid-October to late November, the streets of Kasama are lined with the floral displays of their annual Chrysanthemum Festival. The town’s focal point is Inari Jinja Shrine, and here is where visitors can find many of the most gorgeous exhibits.
However, on that particular day, many of Kasama’s inhabitants had taken a few hours’ leave of absence from the flowers to enjoy the town’s annual performance of horseback archery (yabusame in Japanese).
The road parallel to Kasama Elementary School is transformed into a course for the riders, with three targets at intervals along the run where competitors take turns to show their riding prowess and marksmanship. It’s a spectacular sight as the horses accelerate to breathtaking speeds while the archers (mostly) hit their targets.
Dating back to 1950 in Kasama, the results of the yabusame are said to forecast how bountiful the following year’s harvest will be.
While still aquiver with excitement, we then took in the nearby Pottery Fair at Crafthills Kasama, to enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere of local potters’ selling their wares, live performances, and various food stalls.
Kasama is a charming town with plenty to do in a condensed area – there’s a festival almost every month. Kasama Inari Monzen Street is a great place to pick up snacks and local sake, and Inari Jinja itself is a formidably impressive shrine.
Kasama is easy to access from major Tokyo train stations, with a journey time of about an hour. On this occasion, we decided to get off the train at the larger station of Tomobe, and hire bicycles for a pleasant – and not too hilly – seven-kilometre trip through the Ibaraki countryside, making the day a perfect mix of nature, culture and crafts.
Check the book for further suggestions for a visit to Kasama.