First Kick-Ball Game


First Kick-Ball Game (mari hajime)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: New Year
***** Category: Humanity


During the Edo period, the first game took place on the first day of the monkey.
The tradition was almost lost, but during the Meiji period it revived and now there are groups in Kyoto which preserve this ancient sports.

The first game takes place on January 4 at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto. 

first game, hatsumari 初鞠, mari hajime 鞠初
..... kemari hajime 蹴鞠初め


Players in Elegant Court Costumes Exhibit Skills

A New Year ritual, "Kemari Hajime," meaning first ball kicking of the year, took place on January 4 at Shimogamo Shrine in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto. Players dressed in colorful court costumes of the Heian Period (8-12C AD) performed Kemari, an ancient ball-kicking game, in front of visitors who were paying their first visit of the year to the shrine. As the ball was kicked with rhythmical sounds high into the air, onlookers burst into cheers and applause.

Kemari was introduced to Japan from China along with Buddhism. A group of players form a circle, and kick a ball while preventing it from touching the ground. It became quite popular among noble people in the Heian Period, and its ritual procedures and styles are believed to have been established in the Kamakura Period (13-14C AD).
Although it once died out during the rush to westernization after the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, this traditional court sport was revived with the establishment of the Kemari Preservation Society in 1903, and has continued to the present.

Seventeen members of the preservation group, dressed in ancient formal wear of "Suikan" jackets, "Hakama" trousers, and "Eboshi" caps, appeared on the 15-meter-square Kemari court specially set up in front of the shrine's main hall. A team of eight players formed a circle on the court, and elegantly passed the deerskin ball to one another. They skillfully controlled the ball using only the instep of their right feet while shouting the names of the Kemari's deities; "Ari," "Ya" and "Oh." Spectators focused their cameras at the players, clapped their hands and enjoyed the wonderful ball handling.

© Kyoto Shimbun 2006.1.4 News


Folding Screen from the Momoyama Period
A sceene from the Tale of Genji

The scroll paintings evoke the ideal of the aristocratic society in early eleventh-century Japan. The work incorporates the arts of painting, calligraphy and decorated paper. A fusion of traditions of monogatari, Yamatoe painting and kana calligraphy, the work emerges as the very epitome of Haian aesthetics.

More in English is here:

桃山時代(16世紀)以降の近世、絵画は現世主義的な生活観を背景に、 明快な可視的効果を希求し、いちだんと装飾性を強めます。そうした時代風潮にあって、 障屏画とならんで大画面に金地濃彩を用いて描く屏風絵は、画家たちがその感性や 伎倆を発揮するのにまさに格好の画面形式でした。

桃山時代 六曲屏風 1双
各159.4×358.5 紙本金地著色

Click HERE to see the second screen !


Fujiwara Narimichi 藤原成通
and the three Spirits of Kemari

Tosa Koi, 17th cent.


The Ball, made from Deer Skin


CLICK for more photos !

Click HERE to look at more first kick-ball game photos !

Click HERE to look at more kick-ball photos !


Worldwide use


Bronze Mirror with Kick-Ball Players

www.sg.com.cn/2004style/ FGBJ/t20050328_90216.htm

Click HERE to see more kemari photos from CHINA !



. Sepak takraw kick volleyball .

Things found on the way

at shrine Shimogamo Jinja 下鴨神社


first kick-ball game -
so many beads of sweat
on the old costumes

Gabi Greve, Japan, January 2006


烏帽子 結いなおすも作法 鞠初
eboshi yuinaosu mo sahoo mari hajime

first kick-ball game !
fastening the court hat again
is part of the rules
(tr. Gabi Greve)



fuyu no tsuki kemari no yukugata shirezu kana

winter moon -
maybe just a kemari ball
gone astray

(tr. Gabi Greve)

ningyo-hime. Look at the moon-ball here !

Related words

***** kajimari 梶の鞠(かじのまり)paper mulberry kickball
for the Tanabata star festival rituals

Tanabata no kemari 七夕の蹴鞠(たなばたのけまり)

***** . temari 手まり、手毬 hand ball .

***** Soccer, Football, Fussball



Gabi Greve said...

I wouldn't be at all surprised that the origins of kemari can be found in this game. The ball does not touch the ground and is kept airborne.

Read more about it here:

Hacky Sack or Footbag, as we know it today, is a modern American sport invented in 1972, by John Stalberger and Mike Marshall of Oregon City, Oregon.

And it is described a bit further here:


Carole MacRury


Gabi Greve - KUGE said...

More haiku about KUGE 公家

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Kickball at
Tanzan Jinja 談山神社 Tanzan Shrine
Danzan Shrine, the Tōnomine Shrine (多武峯社 Tōnomine-sha)
Tōnomine Temple (多武峯寺 Tōnomine-ji),

Gabi Greve said...

The word “mari” comes from the ancient Japanese word “maro,” which means something round. In the Nara period (701-794), kickball game was introduced from China to Japan and the game continued to be played mainly by noblemen in the Heian period (794-1192). As time moved on kickball games were replaced by handball games. There were even jongleurs called “Shinadama-zukai,” who gave acrobatic performances using temari balls. In the Edo period, when well-bouncing thread balls came to be made, bouncing games became more popular than handball games.

In making a thread ball, something bouncing such as saw dust or osmund is used as the core, which is then wrapped with cotton cloth and finally finished by wrapping tightly with thread. Patterns created by silk thread are very elegant. Temari balls still have been loved by a lot of people not only as a toy for children but also as a decorative ornament.

Gabi Greve said...

Edo Castle
The courtyard in front of the Shiro Shoin was also used to showcase kemari (a type of ball game) and martial arts performances, which the Shōgun would view from the lower chamber.