Kemari ball game held at a Nara shrine

An ancient ball game known as "kemari" was staged at a major shrine in Nara. The event held at Kasugataisha shrine is named "Manyo-kemari".

A non-profit organization working to preserve Nara's culture came up with the idea, based on kemari practiced in the Asuka and Nara periods of 7th and 8th centuries.

The game was played in a field at the shrine compound by 4 teams of about 40 people, including junior high school students of a local soccer club and NPO staff. The participants donned ancient costumes.

In Manyo-kemari, teams of 6 people each compete to score by kicking a ball made of deer skin, to get it into the opponent's court.

An elementary school boy among the spectators said he thought the costume was smart and that the game was interesting. He said he would like to try it.

A man who took part in the game said the ball was very different from a soccer ball and that he found it difficult to kick.