Kemari (Japanese Football Code) 794-Present


Kemari is an ancient Japanese Football game resembling hacky-sack or keepy-uppies. The aim of the players is to keep the ball in the air by kicking it with the leg or feet, either to another player or to themselves. It is the achievement of the highest artistic performance that is important rather than winning. It is played by 6-8 players and is not limited by time. In the Modern Era it is usually stopped by one of the players selected as the game leader and resumed after a break. Each game usually lasts 10-15 minutes. It is played by both men and women and is considered a national sport, enjoyed by families, three generations sometimes playing at the same, which is not unusual to see. It dates from the Heian Period (794-1195).

Video of Kemari 201

Kemari 2011 [References: 3]

Please Note: this game gets off to a slow start, like a Japanese Tea Ceremony. Jump to about 2 minutes in to see how similiar to the modern game of hacky sack it is.



[1] Wojciech Liponski (2003) “Kemari” World Sports Encyclopedia pg. 316. MBI Publishing, St. Paul. Minnesota, USA.

[2] Encyclopaedia Brittanica (2021) Kemari [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 18 May 2021]

Social Media

[3] You Tube zaicushastyj Channel (2011) Kemari (Japanese: 蹴鞠) is a form of football that was popular in Japan during the Heian Period. Kemari has been revived in modern times. This game was played in Sniramine-jingu, Kyoto [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 18 May 2021]


Thanks to Caoilfhionn Nic Fhearai

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 18 May 2021

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2020

You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Enda Mulcahy

I am currently Web Manager for Baseball Ireland. I have been involved in American Football Ireland since 1987 either as a fan (going to the first College Games in Ireland in the 1980s, the Shamrock Bowl or Dublin Tornadoes & Dublin Rebels matches), player (South West Jets Flag Football 1995), Line Judge (IAFL 1996-2003), Chain Crew Member (I was on the Sidelines for the NFL game in Dublin between the Pittsburgh Steelers & Chicago Bears in 1997), Team Manager (Dublin Bay Raptors, IFFL 2018-present), Statistician (I did the stats for Shamrock Bowl X and currently do the stats for the Raptors). I have also played Softball for Marlay Mustangs, represented my school (St. Colmcille's Knocklyon) in Basketball & Olympic Handball, played plenty of Street Soccer, played Badminton for over 30 years (Knocklyon Social Badminton Club), played Croquet in the Annual Trinity SWSS v Green Party Challenge, Ran the Belfield Mile (UCD), played Chess for Trinity in the annual Colours Match, and played a lot of Games and E-Sports (Subbuteo, Fantasy NFL & Madden NFL etc) and have tried most of the sports on this website at least twice. I have a BA in World Development from the Development Studies Centre @ The Holy Ghost College Kimmage and have completed a Professional Qualification in Webmaster level 1 in Web Design at the Irish Academy of Computer Training (The research Project) both in Dublin, Ireland I could not have done this on my own, however, and the help of friends, co-workers, teachers and family has been significant. Please see the Acknowldegemets section (below the Home Menu Button for a full list of those who have helped, guided or supported me.

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