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Way to Shimogamo Shrine.
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Shimogamo Shrine is most famous for holding the annual Aoi Matsuri Festival.
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Shimogamo Shrine map.
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Shimogamo Shrine torii
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On Jan. 4, Kemari hajime at Shimogamo Shrine starts at 1:30 pm. Free seating is provided, but getting there early assures you of a better view if you want to take pictures.
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The kemari players include women. Kemari originated in China.
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Besides free seating, they provide paid spectator seating in the two pavilions on the right and left. 2000 yen per seat.
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But I got a good view from my free seat.
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Kemari is held at other shrines at other times of the year.
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The game is preceded by a ceremony.
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The white kemari ball is made of deer skin.
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US President George H.W. Bush, during a visit to Japan in Jan. 1992, tried to play kemari as if it were soccer. That embarrassment was overshadowed by him vomiting on the Prime Minister during a banquet.
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The object of kemari is to keep the ball in the air. And whoever kicks the ball, must make it easy for the next person to kick it. But this is hard to do.
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Sometimes the ball went way up, and once it went up on the roof. These players weren't so skilled in my opinion.
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Kemari Hajime at Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto
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Kemari Hajime at Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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Shrine priests watching kemari.
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They had a break and the players changed.
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Female kemari player.
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The ball sometimes bounce into the crowd.
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It's quite hard to get good still shots. I had better luck with video.
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The ball falls off the roof after it was kicked way too high.
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It was an interesting and colorful event.
     
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