Attire for Kemari (Noblemen's Foot Ball)

Have you ever heard of a term Kemari (蹴鞠)? It is a foot ball game played by noblemen and courtiers in the Heian (平安) period. The Kemari was introduced from China along with Buddhism in the Asuka (飛鳥) period, and gained frenzy popularity. It is even considered to be a trigger of Taika no Kaishin (大化の改新, Taika Reform).

Kemari Shozoku (蹴鞠装束) is a set of attire for Kemari occasions, which consists of Kosode (小袖, short sleeved Kimono), Mari-suikan (鞠水干, jacket), Mari-hakama (鞠袴, kimono skirt) and other accessories. The Mari-suikan is usually made of silk called Sha (紗) or Ro (絽). Some even have raised patterns with gold threads which requires quite an elaborate skill, hence, reproducing exactly the same quality Mari-suikan is almost impossible today.

Interestingly, the Kemari grade of each player is expressed by the color of Mari-hakama. In addition, the shoes are called Kamokutsu (鴨沓, duck shoes) because the shape is like a beak of a duck. Wearing Eboshi (烏帽子, head-gear of old-time nobles), holding Mari-ougi (鞠扇, fan), players kick and chase around the Mari (鞠) made of sooth deerskin, with all those encouraging shout of "Yeah" and "Oh".

At Shimogamo Jinja (下鴨神社) shrine, Kemari-hajime (蹴鞠初め, New Year's first Kemari) is annually held.

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