Last Updated: October 28, 2015
By: Taira Jordan
You may have heard about the hugely popular ball-and-sword kendama game and wondered why this seemingly simple game has become so popular with kids of all ages. Apart from being a fun and competitive game, the kendama helps kids develop and build hand-eye coordination. Parents love the kendama for getting kids outside and playing with other children, rather than watching TV or playing video games.
While similar ball and cup games have been played by children for centuries, the modern game of kendama is said to have originated in Japan in the early 1900's. Consisting of a sword or ken and ball connected by a string, the kendama's ken has three cups and a spike that fits into the hole of the ball. Tricks with the kendama can range from simply catching the ball in the cup to much more complex tricks such as balancing the ken on the ball or juggling the ball between the cups. While many people play with the kendama for fun, kendama competitions are held in which players compete by performing tricks in sequence or performing a specific trick repeatedly for as long as possible.
A beloved game in Japan, the kendama has become popular outside of Japan as both a toy and competitive game.