In the ancient times, this solemn archery ceremony used to be carried out as an important part of an opening ceremony of annual archery events in the Samurai society. It was held only once a year on 4th January.
This ritual archery ceremony was conducted to sanctify a good land in Japan and to celebrate the peace and prosperity of the nation, moreover, the Samurai warriors wished that they could improve their literary and military arts even better on this special occasion.
The length of the target is strictly regulated by a mathematical theory derived from the Ying and Yang thought, according to this thought, even number is counted among the "Ying number" and odd number is thought to be the "Yang number".
8 sun=26.4cm ("sun" is a Japanese original measure unit, 1sun=3.3cm) square shaped wooden target is set in the field to be shot by the archers in the first group, "8" is the maximum number of Ying.
9 sun = 29.7cm target is also erected for the archers in the second group, "9" is the maximum number of Yang. Its measurement is always precise and carefully theorized from the ancient times, therefore, the length of the target shot by the first and second group is different from each other.
The wooden target utilized for this sacred rite is made of a Japanese cedar or the Hinoki tree.
A crisscross pattern is notched at the back of the target for the archers in the first group.
Nine squared grids are also notched at the back of the target for the archers in the second group.
As it is explained above, the length of the second target is 9 "sun" and it is divided into 3 squares each side like the figure, which is described on the left. In Japanese, "San-San-Ku" means "three times three equals nine". This expression of a fundamental multiplication formula with rhythmical words actually have become the origin of the ceremony's name, moreover, the target itself is set on the basis of a formula "3X3=9" to work out the maximum number of Yang in terms of both mathematical theory and word expression.
The word "Tebasami" means "to put the target into a pole by hand for shooting" and "Shiki" means "ceremony".
An excellent composition of these Japanese meaningful vocabularies makes up the name of this archery ceremony.