In simple terms kyudo equipment is designated as sporting equipment. However, as kyudo is both a sport and a method of self-cultivation, the use of equipment is also as a means to training attitude and awareness through proper respect and attention towards the equipment. The main items used are the bow (Yumi), arrows (Ya), and glove (Yugake).
Bow - Yumi
The Japanese bow
is the longest in the world and its simplicity and
elegance is part of its character. To use the bow and express its
energy requires years of practice and sensitivity. It is not unlike a
fine musical instrument. The traditional form of bow is made using a
laminated construction of bamboo and hardwood with bamboo facings. The
bamboo gives flexibility but without strength and the hardwood has
strength but is brittle. Both materials marry together into a balance
that is the "life" of the bow.
For beginners bows are available in fiberglass and carbon-fibre. They lack the quality and sensibility of the bamboo bow but are practical for use by beginners.
Arrows - Ya
The arrows are
made from special bamboo that is hardened and aligned by
hand. The manufacture of the bamboo arrow is an art form in itself. The
fletchings traditionally use the feathers of hawk or eagle but as such
birds are protected species, only existing supplies can be used, so
these fletchings are going out of use. Synthetic flights and the
harvesting of feathers from birds such as swan and turkey are becoming
more common. The small metal tips are blunt and protect the arrow.
Glove - Yugake
is made from
deerskin which is farmed for this purpose. There are several types -
three-finger, four-finger, and five-finger, and each is related to a
tradition and level of practice. The hardened thumb and rigid wrist
type of glove is the most commonly used.
Transportation of Kyudo Equipment
The Japanese bow
has an unstrung length of 221-233cm and requires
protective wrapping when being transported. The arrows are kept in a
protective quiver. Both the bow and arrow quiver should be checked in as
fragile over-size hold luggage. All the major airlines accept kyudo
equipment as sports equipment and as fragile hold luggage. If in
it is advisable to check with the airline before travelling.
For travel by coach and train, over-size luggage requirements vary, so it is advised to check first before travelling. In the UK, the underground system and black taxis will not accept kyudo equipment because of the size, so hire cars are preferred for short distances.