bka logo

British Kendama Association

Kendama: "Elegant Simplicity. Infinite Complexity. Ultimate Fun."

Welcome to the BKA: the ultimate resource for all kendama-related information. You'll find the all latest kendama news, and a wealth of other info on the pages linked below. If you're completely new to the Japanese skill-toy that is kendama,
and don't know what it's all about, watch this.
Home - Blog - Forum - Store - Events - History - Anatomy - Basics - Tricks - Why? - Pics - Grades - Contact

Japan Foundation tour, Aug/Sep '09

I went to see the JF tour in Cardiff along with Matt, Mat & Emma. We arrived while the show was being set up, and introduced ourselves to the performers and JF crew, had a little warm up with the kens before the show started.
A crowd of around 50 or 60 people had gathered in the lobby of the millenium centre. Senwaka was first up, explaining (with the help of a translator) exactly what Edo-daikagura was and is. ("Door to door juggling" anyone?) He performed with a large ball, then added two drumsticks. Next he switched to parasol-rolling tricks, inviting a volunteer up to have a try, and thus proving it's not a piece of cake! Senwaka finished with a series of balancing tricks, culminating in a spectacular fountain-effect.
arm stall
Next, it was time for the world's only professional kendama performer.
Ito-san's opening trick was literally incredible. Let's just say it involves a longer-than-normal string. While we caught our breath, there was an explanation of what a kendama is, and another volunteer was called up, to demonstrate that it's trickier than it looks. Unfortunately(?) this volunteer was very good, and managed to get a big cup & a spike both within 2 attempts. He left to a round of applause, but then Ito-san announced that he knew there was someone a bit better at kendama in the audience, and pulled me up on to the stage! Well, I blame the surprise for missing my first attempt at Hikouki, but after hitting one second go, and doing a quick Sekai Isshu, I bowed out. Now the serious skills were broken out. Single ball manipulation, ball & 2 ken moves, poi swinging transitions, acrobalance kendama, along with "normal" kendama tricks of a very high level, solid as you like. Yes, it was definitely worth the trip to come and see the kendama meastro!
After the show was over, there was a workshop session, where the public could try kendama, and also parasol-rolling. Mat, Matt & I all tried the latter, and, as experienced jugglers, appreciated exactly how skilled it is. As the public battled with Big Cup, we managed to steal a few tips from the master, as well as suggest a couple of variations back to him. (Anyone for the Verminator?) "Ah, so *that's* how you control Bamboo Horse...", "Oh, you move your hand over to there...?!" etc. Lastly there was just time to demonstrate a quick game of TeamKD Battle Cards, and while Ito-san proclaimed he was "not very good" with a standard-sized kendama, he still hit every one of his tricks first time, but the game was tied. The Japan-England rematch will have to wait for another day.
ito-san and void

Thanks very much to the Japan Foundation for bringing both these performers to the UK, and thanks especially to Yusuke Ito for taking time to talk to us and give us the benefit of his experience.

Emma's photos

- Void, Sep 09 -