Azusa Yumi
Classification String

An azusa yumi (梓弓) is a sacred bow (yumi) used in certain Shinto rituals in Japan, as well as a Japanese musical bow, made from the wood of the Japanese azusa () or Japanese cherry birch tree (Betula grossa).[1] Playing an azusa yumi forms part of some Shinto rituals; in Japan, it is believed that merely the twanging of the bowstring will frighten ghosts and evil spirits away from a house. In Japanese poetry, the word azusa yumi functions as a makurakotoba ("pillow word", a kind of epithet).[2]

The story is told in Japanese mythology that a golden bird perched on the bow of Emperor Jimmu, the great-grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu, and the first human ruler of Japan. This was seen as an extremely good omen; Jimmu's bow developed the power to dispel evil by the mere plucking of its string. His bow was made of azusa wood, specifically the Betula grossa or Japanese cherry birch.

See also


  1. ^ Loades, Mike (2019-02-21). War Bows: Longbow, crossbow, composite bow and Japanese yumi. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 238. ISBN 978-1-4728-2554-4.
  2. ^ Kabanoff, Alexander M. (1992). "Review of A Blade of Grass: Japanese Poetry and Aesthetics in Dogen Zen". Journal of Japanese Studies. 18 (1): 181–185. doi:10.2307/132713. ISSN 0095-6848. JSTOR 132713.