Hanetsuki is one of the many traditional Japanese games that resembles badminton. According to history, hanetsuki served as a rite during exorcisms, becoming a game for girls during the Muromachi period (1333-1568). It is played without a net, using a rectangular wooden paddle called hagoita and a brightly-colored shuttlecock called hane, made from hard soapberry and a few feathers.
It was traditionally played during the New Year by girls, and could be played by one or more players. The aim is to hit the hane back and forth between the players as many times as possible without it touching the ground. For a single player, all he or she has to do is to keep the hane aloft all by herself. According to history, the amount of protection received for the coming year increases the longer the hane remained in the air. However, if a player drops the hane, his or her face will be smudged with black ink.
While the game’s popularity declined in recent times, the hagoita still became a popular collection item. In fact, in mid-December, the Hagoita Market (Hagoita-ichi) is held at the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. Here, plenty of ornamented wooden paddles are sold. Paddles come in different sizes and designs, featuring kabuki actors and drawings of Edo ladies. There are also portraits of celebrities and famous people on some hagoita that are sold today.