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Wednesday, 8th January 2014
In Events In Japan,

Kemari game played at Kyoto shrine

Last week (January 4th) saw players and spectators gather at a major Kyoto-based shrine to watch the performance of an ancient ball-kicking game called kemari, which is enjoyed annually by the citizens of the city.

Shimogamo Shrine hosts the event on exactly the same day every year, with locals turning up in droves in order to pray for good health.

The game, which was enjoyed primarily by nobles during the Heian period from the late 8th century until the late 12th century, involves a circle of people keeping the ball above the ground without letting it fall.

However, last week's performance also featured an appearance from a solo kemari player, who succeeded in keeping the ball flying on his own with a variety of impressive tricks and backflips.

Kyoto is a particularly intriguing part of Japan to visit for its prestige as the former capital and its vibrant geisha (or 'geiko) community, located in Gion.

Written by Mark Smith


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