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Kendama – It’s a Sport You Know!

October 21, 2008

Kendama – It’s a Sport You Know!

Kendama is a game that came to Japan in the Edo period and was a popular form of entertainment.  Kendama is also know as Nichi Getsu Ball, or Sun Moon Ball, in Japan and is based upon the French game ‘Bilboquet’ meaning ‘cup and ball’ which has roots that can be traced back to the 11th century.  Yep, it’s an old game and it was one of the first real toy crazes in the early 1700’s according to the British Kendama Association

A kendama (pictured on the right) is a traditional wooden toy that consists of a ball connected by a string to a handle with 3 cups and a spike on top.  The goal is to catch the ball in the cups or on the spike and like a yo-yo there are many tricks that you can do with a Kendama.  Here are just a few (Japanese name / English name ):

  • Oozara / Big cup
  • Kozara / Small cup
  • Chuuzara / Base cup
  • Rousoku / Candlestick
  • Swinging Oozara (String must remain taut until ball is above the level of the ken)
  • Tsubame Kaeshi / Orbit (Oozara>Orbit>Ozara)
    Tomeken / Pull-up-in
  • Kajiya / Tap Back (Oozara>tap ball with ken>Oozara)
  • Hikouki / Aeroplane
  • Moshikame for 10 catches (Starting with Oozara or Kozara – player’s choice)

Kendama competitions are sponsored by the British Kendama Association and the Japan Kendama Association tells us how to identify a certified sport Kendama at toy stores and department stores throughout Japan.  But you don’t need a certified sport Kendama to have a lot of fun playing this game as this video proves.

Can you do it?  Try it out yourself with some virtual kendama before picking up one of these fun and affordable toys on your next trip to Tokyo?

Image Credit:  Wikimedia, Kendama Video: You Tube: kendama high technique play