The Bow Was the Chief Weapon in Japanese Warfare
For centuries, the bow and arrow was "the chief weapon of the fighting man in Japan". Even after the introduction of firearms and the extended period of enforced peace under the Tokugawa [Shogunate] had greatly reduced its strategic relevance, archery was still considered a noble art. Known generally as shagei (accomplishment in archery) or, more specifically, as kyujutsu (the art, or technique, of the bow), it was a fully developed art with a complex system of practices and techniques, an initially wide variety of styles which slowly merged into a few major ones, and a deep theory linking the art to the very birth of the Japanese nation. Inspired as it was by the mystical, esoteric dimension of that culture, it is not surprising to learn that, in the twelfth century [C.E.]…"people in high positions were delighted when their ability as archery was acclaimed but made every endeavor to have their prowess with the sword hushed up."