The Kendama Forum

Forum categories => Gear => Topic started by: The Void on 06 July, 2011, 17:28:59

Title: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: The Void on 06 July, 2011, 17:28:59
Model: Mugen[1]
Manufacturer: Iwata mokko (No longer being manufactured), Japan
Seal: JKA, teal



Well worn in:
I got a pair of Mugens at the end of 2007. I used them pretty much exclusively for a couple of years, until a chip came off the edge of the base cup when a helpful child dropped it onto concrete. :-/ One was strung right-handed, one left, for the occasional bit of 2-handed play.

The Mugen instantly felt the nicest in the hand, out of the packet (I got a Shin-Fuji, a TK16 & a Shin-Sakura at the same time). The paint appeared to be the glossiest, which I instinctively thought would be the most slippery, but somewhat counter-intuitively, I found this not to be the case. Indeed, it seemed to be quite the opposite, the most grippy, and so this soon became my favourite kendama to play with, and learn new tricks on.

As time went on, the paint began to 'wear in' - that is to say, the surface developed lots of small dents and creases, caused by the impact of the ken during missed trick attempts. (To be clear, the paint was still there, but slightly 'dented in'.) These small imperfections actually serve to enhance the catching potential, so Lighthouses and Moon Landings etc began to get a little bit easier with time.[2] The more severe drops and misses would cause the ocassional small chip in the paint work, adding character and a touch of remorse at the same time. Overall though, I was very pleased with the durability of the paint.

The light colour of the beech wood also changed over time, getting darker as it slowly began to absorb the natural grease/oil exuded by my skin. As the clicks and drops of time take their toll on the ken, small chips and dents began to appear on the edges of the cups, and on the edge of the ball hole. I found that these were actually an advantage, as they mean that a catch of a Bird or Bat etc is a little easier, since the nicks provide a touch more grip for the landing.

If it weren't for the chip, or the fact that they are no longer manufactured[3], I'd probably still be using a Mugen. I've since moved on to Ozoras, which I find to be just as nice.

Ever since they ceased to be available, the Mugen seemed to develop a mystic aura of being the ultimate kendama, with people prepared to pay exorbitant prices for any few models that turned up in cupboards and storerooms. It was very nice, sure, but never mind if you missed it, there are plenty of really nice kendamas still around today.

And no, I don't want to sell the ones I still have, before you ask!

Feel free to reply with your thoughts on the Mugens, whether you agree with me or not!
 1. (It means "Dream former" or "Dream maker")
 2. Of course, I am aware that I was getting more experienced at the same time, and thus the tricks were easier for me, irrespective of which kendama I was using, but if I compared a worn-in Mugen with a new Mugen, then the tricks were easier on the worn-in one.
 3. Some disagreement between the makers and the JKA about the awarding of the seal, I believe
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: Thorny on 07 July, 2011, 08:52:25
Ahh this was a nice read!
Although you've said you think Oozora's are just as nice... I still think I want an actual Mugen.
I've been searching for one, at a fairly reasonable price for a long time now but if I'm honest, I think I'd prefer to have a Shin Sakura, due to their even higher unattainability... I'm not bothered about having them for any reason except in my personal kendama collection... but at the same token people don't want to part with these renowned kendamas, if they own them. Which is completely understandable.

Could you perhaps do a review on your Shin Sakura with some similar photos to these?
I'd be grateful
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: Roam on 07 July, 2011, 10:36:22
Great write up I have only know about Mugen Kendamas for about six week and even I want one for no good reason  ;D
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: The Void on 07 July, 2011, 12:49:11
Could you perhaps do a review on your Shin Sakura with some similar photos to these?

I'm planning on reviewing all the other models I have a good amount of experience with, when I get the time. I might be missing some of the "brand new" photos, but I'll see what I can do.
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: Ken Dama on 06 August, 2012, 23:11:13
mugens are great kendamas, wish they still made them  >:( my friend has a wine red and a black :)
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: AlexSmith on 07 August, 2012, 23:58:10
Well, in the last few months I've finally gotten to lay eyes on quite a number of different Mugens, as well as a bunch of Jumbo Mugens. They do play nicely, similar to the OG oozoras, the jumbos have a great feel as well.
The thing I like most is the shape though, the slip stall on them is awesome. Oozoras fall a little short in this category, in my opinion. Mugens also have much rounder 'bird' edges on the sarado, something I'm so-so about (I kinda of like the sharper shape).
Another difference is the sarado woodgrain runs vertically, whereas the sarado woodgrain in an oozora runs horizontally.

Mugens certainly have gained a 'mystic aura', which has only been growing. One of my pet peeves is kids who save up to buy one, then post photos everywhere with tag lines like 'Mugens are THE BEST! Most amazing kendamas EVER MADE!'. This is silly. Don't get me wrong, they are very well made kendamas, but the notoriety and price tag they've gained comes from them being collectors pieces, little bits of kendama history. If you dig around online you can find a kendama website (can't remember the URL exactly) that hasn't been updated since the release of Oozora kendamas, and whoever was in charge of said website claimed that Oozoras were a new, superior model- a better buy than the Mugen model. Again, I don't mean to downplay the Mugen or say they aren't worth the money people are willing to pay. I simply hope that those willing to spend the money have some respect and understanding for why such a price tag exists.
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: HansNickmans on 08 August, 2012, 09:27:46
I also wonder what would have become of the Mugen if Iwata Mokko never stopped making them. What their status would be between the oozora, sakura, shin-fuji and TK16 (not forgetting sunrises, sweets, tributes,... who are claiming their places between the gear). Maybe Shin Sakura would have replaced the 'mystic status', although the extreme rarity of the Shin Sakura made it more a collectible than the 'ultimate kendama'.

As I gather, Mugens where so popular back in the day because of their colours daring to divert from the standard colors of oozora, shin-fuji and TK16. Maybe these days, if Mugens still existed, the gold, red-white, kotobuki, wine, emerald,... would be those with a recommended seal instead of the standard ones.

As for reviewing the Mugen: It was my first kendama ever and it played wonderfully (although I had nothing to compare it to). I spared it the beating once I found out it was a collectible and got a TK16. I remember getting my TK and trying bird for the first time and it worked so much better for me than on the Mugen (maybe because of the edges). Now that my collection also contains oozora, shin-fuji, sunrise, focus and yumu, I can say that the balance on my Mugen is still one of the best. The paint endured very well during my first kendama days and up till now, with hardly any chipping, even around the hole. I did however started practicing spacewalks (and logically bashing my ken to the ground) with my TK16. So I don't know how it would hold up in that situation. The ken is still one of smoothest, where the cups of my tk16 and oozora started to chip and wear down. The tip has rounded, due to extensive airplane-practice-sessions in the beginning.

It is a great kendama, but if you need good playability at a normal cost, there are other models out there that are just as good (it's what you are used to and what suits your style best in my opinion). I like the fact that Mugens have this collector's status, it keeps us in contact with the origins and the tradition of the toy we all love. I hope those kids realize that :-)
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: TheKendamaSensation on 11 September, 2012, 01:00:22
If you still have the Shin-Sakura, (I honestly don't care how chipped the ball is) how much would you be willing to sell it for.
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: ervickg on 01 December, 2012, 15:28:45
Hey! are you selling any other mugen kendamas? Please let me know!
Title: Re: Review: Mugen kendama
Post by: 123hunter on 04 December, 2012, 05:10:33
Email me ervickg^ I am.
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