Inuōmono, or dog chasing, was a type of archery event by which mounted archers would practice their skills by chasing dogs around an enclosed area to shoot with blunted arrows. The practice began in the Kamakura period and continued into the Sengoku period. Inuōmono is counted as one of the three traditional forms of mounted archery, along with yabusame (a type of mounted archery where the archer shoots successively at three wooden targets while the horse is running) and kasakage (a type of mounted archery where the archer shoots at various fixed targets while the horse is running).
Inuōmono events were held on flat enclosed grounds in a square shape of approximately 72 meters on each side. On the grounds were three teams comprised of twelve mounted archers per team, two mounted inspectors, and two mounted 喚次. After a total of 150 dogs were released on the grounds, the teams would compete to determine how many could be hit with the arrows in a designated period of time. Special arrows with turnip-shaped heads were used to avoid piercing the dogs. It was not sufficient to merely hit the dogs with the arrows, but the manner of shooting and the location of the target were also demonstrated skills. These determinations were made by the inspectors and 喚次.
Inuōmono first appears in historical accounts dating from 1207. In the Muromachi period, the event was popular as a form of military art. Events were held as a Shintō ritual at the Grand Shrine of Suwa in Shinano Province and also at the Kamomiyoya Shrine in the Sakyō District of Kyōto and the Kamowake-ikazuchi Shrine in the Kita District of Kyōto, drawing large audiences. A folding screen at the Kamomiyoya Shrine depicts an inuōmono event held at the Kamowake-ikazuchi Shrine. At the time, the pursuit of wild animals by mounted archers was referred to as ōmoni, or the pursuit and shooting of animals, while the pursuit of bulls was referred to as ushiōmono, but inuōmono was the only one to persist. Inuōmono events were held at sites across Japan variously named as dog and horse grounds, dog shooting grounds, horse archery grounds, and the like.
According to one anecdote, during the early fourteenth century, Hōjō Takatoki, the final head of the main branch of the Hōjō clan of the Tokusō family, was so passionate about dog fighting and inuōmono that he failed to concentrate on affairs of governance, leading to the demise of the Kamakura bakufu. In the Sengoku period, powerful shugo daimyō and shugodai, or deputy military governors, who honored these traditions were eliminated one after another so that, by the Edo period, those continuing the practice were limited to the Shimazu and Ogasawara clans, along with the Hosokawa family. Thereafter, in the Satsuma domain, except for a temporary suspension owing to an order issued by Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (the fifth supreme shōgun of the Edo bakufu) to protect living creatures, inōmono events continued to be held in conjunction with auspicious occasions such as coming-of-age ceremonies. Moreover, Shimazu Mitsuhisa (the second head of the Satsuma domain) held an event on behalf of Tokugawa Ietsuna (the fourth shōgun of the Edo bakufu). Tokugawa Yoshimune (the eighth shōgun of the Edo bakufu) revived the Ogasawara school of archery through these events in addition to falconry.
After the Meiji Restoration, the system of domains was abolished so inuōmono lost its backing from the Satsuma domain and the Edo bakufu at large, making it difficult to maintain the practice. During this period, while many in Japan turned their attention toward the West, traditional culture received less support. Meanwhile, the holding of events for show or for practice was very expensive because it required spacious flat grounds as well as a large number of skilled archers and their horses. Despite these limitations, in 1879 and 1881, Shimazu Tadayoshi held inuōmono events for the Meiji Emperor at Ueno Park in Tōkyō. An event held in 1879 was attended by Ulysses Simpson Grant (a civil war general and the eighteenth president of the United States) during a visit to Japan. Meanwhile, in 1891, Nikolai II (a Russian prince) attended an event held at the Sengan Garden in Kagoshima in southern Kyūshū during his visit to Japan.