Oct 5, 2013

Kendama

Hi! I would like to dedicate my first blog post to something that my nine year old son is very passionate about.
It is a traditional, wooden, Japanese children’s toy, called “Kendama”, which is affordable, portable and fun to play with. According to the Japanese, the English interpretation of Kendama would be the “cup and ball” game.
 
 
This simple yet amazing toy, not only teaches children tricks but also helps to improve their focus and balance. I am told, originally it was invented to exercise hand and eye coordinated movements in children, but after watching my son practice, I have found the Kendama to be a fun and learning experience for both children and adults alike.
Anatomically, the Kendama is a wooden toy, consisting of two parts; a “cross” shaped body called the “Ken” which has two concave “small & big” cups on each side, a concave-cup base & a spiked head, attached by a string to a wooden ball “Tama” having a drilled hole. The trick is to catch one part with the other using juggles and balances. The first 10 basic tricks are called “kyu” which gradually level up to 10 ranks or “dan”.
 

 

Parts of a Kendama
 
1.  Main body = ken
2. Top part of main body= spike or kensaki
3. Other end of the ken = grip or suberidome
4. Larger, concave, side cup = ōzara
5. Smaller, concave, side cup = kozara
6. Crosspiece joining the cups = sarado
7.Concave base of the “Ken” = chūzara
8.The ball with a drilled hole= tama
9. The ball is connected to the main body with a string about 40 cm (16 inches) long.
 
Although the tricks may look very easy in the beginning, they are in fact, quite difficult to master. In order to properly perform each trick, one has to first, balance one’s posture by bending the knees and moving the hips in a coordinated manner. In Japan, children are introduced to Kendamas through school or community related centers. For those children who take a keen interest in it, are encouraged to attend Kendmama lessons or boot camps and participate in local and national Kendama tournaments. For my family, the Kendama is not just a toy but an effective tool which has helped my son focus on the game and other areas too. In less than three years he has dramatically leveled up from a beginner to the 5th rank. The challenging spirit to learn new tricks and level up has influenced his daily life tremendously. Please give it a try!
 
For further information, please visit: http://kendama.or.jp/english/
 
 

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