The Bowman's Wager was the most prestigious archery contest in Rokugan, which was held annually at winter court in a four days event. [1] It was later extended to a full week event. [2]

Selecting the Contenders Edit

Each Great Clan received three invitations and each of the Imperial Families and Minor Clans received one, [3] and each contender donated a prize. Only sixteen archers might compete so the judges denied invitation to those whose gift was not considered worthy. [1]

Contest Edit

Original Contest Edit

The first three days each archer was given twenty arrows, and every arrow might be fired once. Half of the competitors passed to the next day. On the first day, competitors shot at straw targets. The second they fired while mounted on horseback at full gallop. On the third day they had to shoot animals on open field. [1]

Modern Contest Edit

The first two days contenders where invited and named. In the third day the sixteen highest-scoring samurai advance to the next round, and the next day same archery range granted eight archers to pass. In the fifth day the archers performed the contest mounted on horseback. On the sixth day the four remaining contestants would fire against caged animals brought forth and released. It was customary for the final two sponsors to make a wager between themselves. [4]

Final Day Edit

The finalists competed against one another, and the archer with the greatest score challenged his opponent to strike a particular target. The opponent must meet the challenge, or decline, and same for the challenger in turn. When two challenges had been failed or declined in a row, the Wager was over. [5]

Winner and Loser Edit

The archer with more points collected the prizes submitted by the other contestants plus a gift from the Emperor. The winner gave the loser the "Cup of Defeat", to be drunk. It was said the Cup gave ill fortune to those who drink from it. [5]

Known Winners Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Winter Court: Kyuden Kakita, p. 65
  2. Sword and Fan, p. 171
  3. Sword and Fan, p. 169
  4. Sword and Fan, pp. 169-170
  5. 5.0 5.1 Winter Court: Kyuden Kakita, p. 66

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