What is Kendama? An addictive skill toy. Love video games? Kendama is better. Unplug. Get off the couch. Get up and move your body.
The Kendama Toy from Japan is a 20th Century version of the 16th Century Bilboquet "ball and spike" game from France. Lore says French sailors brought Bilboquet to Japan in the 1700s as a drinking game. When a player made a mistake they had to drink. The Japanese added two side cups of different size to make it interesting.
A Kendama toy patent was granted In the early 1900's and the Japan Kendama Association (JKA) was formed to establish the JKA kendama standard, the rules for play and the grading system for competition. Current kendama designs and competitions are based on these standards with little deviation.
Kendama is growing. It's been called the anti-video game because it gets you up and away from the keyboard. If you know someone addicted to video games buy them a kendama. They're both addicting. The difference is kendama gets you up and moving and there's no power cord.
This 2013 article in The Spokesman-Review calls Kendama Contagious This is an excerpt for the article.
Kendamas are the anti-video game: ball-and-cup toys that are quickly becoming this generation’s Hacky Sack, a craze spreading across the Inland Northwest and the United States, disrupting school days and sending hassled parents to the nearest toy store.
Clubs are forming, after-school programs have waiting lists, kendama parties are thrown and games are created; there are kendama professional teams, and YouTube videos featuring the toy are multiplying across the Internet.
Start Playing Kendama
If you're new to kendama buy a few to get you started. Have a party. Give them to friends. Imitate kendama tricks on YouTube. Go to local kendama events to test your skills.
When you're ready to play with or watch the best kendama players in the world doing crazy kendama tricks in person go to one of the larger Kendama events listed below.
European Kendama Open - Europe
The European Kendama Open is an internationally known kendama event first held in 2008 in Germany. It's held in a different country each year, often where the European Juggling Convention is being held.
There are Newbie, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Professionals competitions. The Professionals competition is the main EKO division - the winner will earn the title of the European kendama champion. There's an Open Division with Freestyle, 7-to-Spike, and European Cup (Gloken-Style).
The 2018 European Kendama Open took place in Bucharest Romania on September 7 - 9.
Minnesota Kendama Open - USA
There are beginner, intermediate and advanced "speed ladders" where players can compete using a set list of tricks to be completed in order in the fastest time. There's an Open Division where players can compete head-to-head using trick cards pulled at random.
The 2018 Minnesota Kendama Open took place in in Minneapolis MN USA on October 26 - 28.
Kendama Battle at the Border - USA
Battle at the Border is an internationally known kendama event first held in 2014 in Nashville TN USA by Sol Kendamas
There are beginner, intermediate and advanced "speed ladders" where players can compete using a set list of tricks to be completed in order in the fastest time. There's an Open Division where players can compete head-to-head using trick cards pulled at random and Freestyle where players can compete using the most creative tricks.
The 2020 Battle at the Border took place in Nashville TN USA on January 3 - 5.
Kendama World Cup - Japan
The Kendama World Cup is an internationally known kendama event first held in 2014 in Hatsukaichi Japan by the Global Kendama Network.
Players score corresponding to trick success. Players can choose tricks from a list of tricks with a difficulty level from 1 ~ 12 including classic and new tricks.
The 2018 Kendama World Cup took place in Hatsukaichi Japan on July 21 - 22.