Gekko Kyudojo (Zen Archery Range), Ojai, California

iphone-photos-20110301-423Kyudo is a form of meditation in action stemming from a blend between Zen Buddhism and the Japanese Samurai Traditions.   It was brought to the United States by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, to help build a bridge between his students’ sitting meditation practice and their daily lives.   Trungpa invited Kanjuro Shibata Sensei, the twentieth bow maker to the emperor of Japan, over to the United States in the 1970’s to teach his students.   Shibata Sensei still teaches today.  This Kyudo Range, along with a sister range three hours to the north in Cayucos, California, are dedicated to him.

Intentions: Build a traditional kyudojo using an old horse corral and stable.

Functional Results: We dismantled everything of the old horse corral and ramshackle stable except for the 4 x4 uprights.   The harvested material included beatifully weathered 2 x 6 fencing material and 4 x 6 beams.   I then used the material to square and plumb the posts, and as beams for the roof.   The fencing material to frame sheets of corrugated metal.   The shooting platform was constructed, with a fence behind as a sense of containment.   The shooting range was laid out using sod (a surface that won’t break the delicate arrows) with gravel boarders on either side.

Aesthetic Results: The weathered fencing material and corrugated metal strike a nice balance between one another, creating a bit of wabi-sabi, the beauty of impermance and imperfection celebrated in traditional Japanese design.  The fence behind the shooting platform and the platform itself are related to one another through changes in the fence height.   A traditional tori gate marks the entrance to the kyudojo.

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