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Cherryball is a sport played in the Kansai region of Japan during the cherry blossom season in early April. The game is played with a small pink ball and five players. The object of the game is to achieve "levels" by hitting the pink ball among the players ten times consecutively. Players start at Level 1, standing in a circle arms' distance apart and facing each other. When at least ten hits have been achieved, the players advance to the next level by taking a large step backwards to expand the circle. Although ten hits mark successful completion of a level, players are free to continue play past ten as far as they would like or are able. There is no theoretical limit to the levels achievable in Cherryball, however the increasing distance between players creates a practical limit somewhere around Level 10. Because the 5 players work together to achieve each level, the game is cooperative rather than competitive.
Cherryball was founded in 加西市 (Kasai-shi) at 丸山公園 (Maruyama kouen) by five people looking for a way to express in sport their enjoyment of the beautiful blossoming cherry trees. To date, there has been one official international tournament of Cherryball, in which players from across the United States and Australia participated. At the conclusion of this tournament, the players present had achieved Level 5.
- Level a series of 10 legal hits. The game begins at Level 1.
- Attempt the effort to achieve a new level. Successful attempts result in the achievement of a new level and an expansion of the circle. Failed attempts result in "starting over" in which counting resets to 1.
- The Seam the space between players. In the early levels, there are no seams, as a player's reach overlaps with his/her neighbor's. As players advance into upper levels, the seams between them widen, thereby increasing the difficulty of the game. It is common for players to shout "Seam!" when the ball has fallen to the ground in a seam. Similarly, it is common for players to shout "Watch the seam!" to remind each other of the dangers of hitting into a seam.
- To achieve a level, each of the five players must hit the ball at least once.
- No one player may hit the ball more than once in a row.
- Both feet must remain firmly planted on the ground. If a foot is lifted from the ground (or slid along the ground), that attempt is void, and counting must begin again from 1.
- If you see something, say something: If a player sees a violation, they must report it to the others by shouting "I saw something!" Players can report their own violations in the same way.
- Players must count aloud the hits in each attempt. Players are responsible for counting their own hits and no one else's. If a player forgets, that hit is not counted, and the next hit will be counted according to the preceding number. A player has until the following hit to count their own hit.
- When a tenth hit is achieved, the hitter, instead of calling "10!" must instead yell "Cherryball!" Shouting the number instead of "Cherryball" will result in the invalidation of that attempt.
- The player who picks up the ball after a failed attempt, or after the final hit of a successful attempt serves it to start the next level. The serve counts as hit 1 for that level.
All that is required for Cherryball is a small pink ball. The official ball is available at デイリーハッピー (deirii happii) in 北条町 (Hojo-cho) for 99 yen. Balls purchased elsewhere are acceptable so long as they are pink.
Athletic clothing is recommended.
- Stance Players usually stand with their feet shoulder-width apart and with their knees slightly bent.
- Hitting Hitting the ball is typically done with a flat palm, but a fist or other parts of the hand or wrist are fairly common. The ball is never caught and lifted. Instead, it is gently slapped by the hand to achieve a hit.
- Lunging To avoid letting the ball fall in a seam, lunging to the side is very common. Players must take care that their feet do not leave the ground. When a ball is hit short in front of a player, lunging forward is sometimes necessary. In this instance, players often fall forward, catching themselves on the ground with their hands to prevent their feet from moving.
- Serving To serve, a player usually tosses the ball in one hand and hits it with the other towards another player. Some players, however, choose to toss and hit with the same hand, while others prefer more of a "wind-up/tennis serve" style.