The folk art of Temari Balls began in China, but it was introduced in Japan roughly 600 years ago, where it flourished and evolved into a true art-form.
Legend has it, the first Japanese Temari Balls were made from old kimono threads, by mothers who wanted to make their kids something to play with. Silk strings would be wadded up to for a ball that would be wrapped in layers of string. In time, Temari makers started making intricate patterns and Temari slowly turned from a toy into a form of artistic expression.
Traditionally, Temari balls are given to children on New Year’s Eve, by their mothers. Inside the balls, women would put a small piece of paper with a written wish for the child. Since the kid could never find out what the wish was without him destroying the toy, the wish had a greater chance of coming true.
Also known as “gotenmari”, some Temari Balls have a variety of noise-makers inside, to make them more fun. They can be used in handball games and it is said the old Temari Balls were so tightly wrapped, they would bounce.