Posts

Showing posts from July, 2011

Kemari - Ancient Japanese Soccer/Football

Image
"Kemari is hardly a stately sport, being quite boisterous and rough, but much depends after all on where it is played and who plays it."
- Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji, 11th Century

Kemari is an ancient Japanese sport originally from China which is a mix of soccer/football and hacky sack. Players try to keep the ball in air by using various parts of their body except the hands. The ball called "mari" is made of deer and horse skin.


The players were a type of clothing reminiscent of the style of the Asuka Period or 6th-7th century Japan when Kemari was first introduced to the country. They wear a specially designed leather shoe which they can even wear on wooden floors where usually normal footwear is removed.
Kemari is a unique sport in that there aren't any winners or losers but rather it's a group activity where the individual players' skill and dexterity adds to the ability of the group to keep the ball aloft as long as they can. Thus kemari is a…

Kyoto’s Festival of Ages – Jidai Matsuri

Image
Kyoto’s Jidai Matsuri – Festival of Ages Kyoto Celebrates History with Festival Parade 


An Imperial Princess with two attendants from yesteryear Every year on Oct. 22, the city of Kyoto celebrates its long history with the Jidai Matsuri — “Festival of the Ages” — a long procession of participants dressed in the various fashions of Japanese history. The festival was created in 1895 to mark the 1,100 anniversary of the founding of Kyoto as Japan’s imperial capital. On Oct. 22, 794, Emperor Kammu decided to relocate the imperial capital to what is today modern Kyoto. The imperial capital used to be 30 miles to the east in Nara, a city brimming with powerful, politically scheming Buddhist institutes. While the capital was in Nara (710-794) a certain amorous Buddhist priest nearly got himself named emperor by a lovesick empress. She died, however, before he could make his dream a reality and all the priest received was a swift banishment for his efforts. This incident and the strong influence…

Japan’s Nebuta Matsuri – Giant Floats Frighten and Delight

Image
Japan’s Nebuta Matsuri – Giant Floats Frighten and DelightFujin the Japanese God of Wind“Dragons, griffins, reptiles, fishes, birds there are, all dancing, waving fans, shouting, howling, singing, noising, in one form or another, in chorus perfectly bewildering.”
- Amy Michael-Carmichael, American Missionary to Japan, 1895. Every summer, Aomori City’s Nebuta Festival brings in flocks of tourists from all over to gaze and wonder at the festival’s huge illuminated floats. Nebuta’s giant floats are the stuff of fantasy and nightmare depicting historical and legendary characters some of whom were of demonic origins. A samurai fights the Shuten Doji devil who once troubled KyotoVisages of snarling faces of humans, animals, monsters, and demons of enormous proportions locked in grisly combat assail the eyes of visitors in a seemingly pagan-like splendor. If a 19th century Christian missionary had ever witnessed the Nebuta Matsuri, they would have probably thought that they had stumbled upon th…