Kemari - traditional sports of Japan

The first evidence of kemari was found in the city of Nara (a former capital city) and dates from around 644 AD. It has been recorded in the Nihon Shoki, an ancient historical chronicle. (documents dating back to the Taika Reform). From 1192 till 1333 the game was a popular sport amongst samurai. The rules were standardized from the 13th century. The game was influenced by the Chinese sport of Cuju (the very earliest form of football). The characters for Kemari are the same as Cuju in Chinese. The sport was introduced to Japan about 600, during the Asuka period. Nowadays, it is played in Shinto shrines for festivals. It actually became a compulsory game for the court nobles during the Heian Period. By the Edo era (1603 – 1867), the game’s popularity had extended beyond the samurai to also include townspeople and wealthy landowners: Kemari had become a sport of mass appeal.
More: http://www.traditionalsports.org/traditional-sports/asia/kemari-or-mari-koju-japan.html


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