An outdoor ball game played for exercise, practised by courtiers at the Japanese imperial court in the Heian-kyo (794–1185) period. Eight players stationed in pairs at a tree endeavoured to keep a deerskin ball off the ground, by kicking it. Successful manoeuvres were not measured, but judged in relation to strategic acumen, speed and skill with the ball, and position and posture. ‘From the twelfth century to the nineteenth, kemari was a popular aristocratic pastime’ (Allen Guttmann, Sports: The First Five Millennia, 2004).
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.