Sunday was the first of three big kyudo events since my return from my Korea trip. I promise I will post separately about my trip, so stay tuned!
Sunday was a long-distance tournament, and then I have another tournament in my prefecture and the next week is my first test. I am aiming for 初段 (shodan) which is the first of 10 ranks. My friend spent 2 years practicing kyudo before he took his test and achieved shodan, and a part of the test is a written question section about the meaning of certain steps. I’m trying not to freak out too much about memorizing things, and to be honest I will probably cram. Hey, I’m a grad student and a teacher. Don’t judge.
So I was told we needed to practice before the long-distance competition because it’s done a bit differently than normal kyudo, but the day I suited up to go to the practice range, the weather forced us to stay inside. So I went to Korea and when I came back, we decided to go on Saturday for at least an hour.
When I showed up at the range it was terrifying because we had to stand 60 meters away from the target and it looked pretty impossible. However, my instructor taught me to aim much higher than we normally do and to tilt my upper body in order to give the arrow more distance. Except my arrow went way too high and ended up hitting the top of the building that housed the target slope. After that, I tried to aim only slightly higher, but kept burying my arrows in the ground just before the target. It was exhausting to shoot 6 arrows at a time, and after shooting 30 or so in a row, I needed a rest.
The next morning, we woke up early and got a ride to the dojo. It was huge and there were two sections: the normal, yet very long, 28 meter range, and the long distance range. Both had scoring panels on the sides, which I thought was cool. The dojo I practice at is tiny and is due to be torn down soon, probably from age.
We were bowed in and watched a demonstration, and then we scrambled to get ready. There were 70 groups of 3, and 6 archers shot at the same time. They set it up so that the next group would sit in chairs directly behind the group who was shooting, and then another two groups sat in the wings behind the doors. Another two groups were lined up behind those. Since my group was 26, we were called to line up fairly fast. We shot two arrows, one of which I got in line with the target but too far to the left, and then sat in the main dojo eating snacks and watching our dojo members when they were called.
It was a long, hot day and my energy was zapped fast. I also didn’t eat much because the bento was fish, but I brought snacks and a few people gave me the chicken from their lunches. However, sitting in a tight obi in the heat with barely any food was giving me a headache.
After lunch, we shot 4 more arrows and shortly after I was driven home. The competition was so long and I mentioned that I had homework to do, and I was really happy when I found out we could leave early. I was pretty happy with how I did, even though I didn’t hit the target. I didn’t completely fail, and when one man asked me when I started doing long distance kyudo, I replied, ”Yesterday.” and he had a good laugh.
My boyfriend and I are adjusting to being apart again. After ten days, it was really hard saying goodbye, and he is trying to find the soonest time to come back to Japan. I will visit him again in Korea for Christmas break, but it is too long to go without seeing him.
One thing that really irked me at the kyudo competition was that, when I was talking to my friend about my trip to Korea and my boyfriend, a lady I hardly knew started screaming, ”How can you already be thinking about moving to Korea? Aren’t there plenty of Japanese guys? Why can’t you date someone here?” I was taken aback to say the least. Who was this woman? I had just met her and she was already hounding me about my choice to date a Korean guy and think about moving to Korea. I pointed out to her that Japanese guys are incredibly shy most of the time, and although I went to college in Japan for a year, I never had any luck past first dates.
It was annoying, but I am certainly not the first to be judged based on who I date. I just read a book on the subject which I reviewed here. This isn’t my first AMWF relationship, but I feel like dating my boyfriend has allowed me to connect with more people than ever, and I have recently found a lot of great blogs like Texan in Tokyo and Linda Living in China who give great advice and share their experiences.
Long distance is hard and sometimes you miss the target, but you just have to keep aiming to see what works.