A ball-kicking game was played at a shrine in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto to pray for the country's success at the World Cup soccer finals that begin in Brazil next month. A group of people working to preserve the traditional kemari game, and former Japanese soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, offered prayers at Shimogamo Shrine. They wore colorful costumes from the Heian era that lasted from the 8th century to the 12th century.
A field measuring 7 square meters was set up, and 8 members of the group formed a circle and kicked a ball made of deer skin. Nakata was entrusted with 1,000 charms with a picture of a three-legged crow called yatagarasu, which is also the logo of the Japan Football Association. He also received a kemari ball and a banner bearing messages from local children. Nakata agreed to bring them to Brazil and give them to supporters of Japan's team. Nakata said he would be happy if he can spread Japan's culture in Brazil, and get people to become fans of Japan.