Kendama at your school

tatsunoko_vs_capcom_ultimate_all_stars_conceptart_C5LkKKendama is a fantastic activity to incorporate into your school Japanese program. Of course it is not the most academic students that often excel, which is a great thing.

I have bought many kendama over the years and had a class set of cheap kendama. Students still had fun, however the success rate is not high enough to really get them hooked. I worked out that you need the best kendama. Students call them ‘Pro Kendama’, even Year 2 students can quickly pick the difference between Kendama Aust 3a Daiso kendama and a Pro Model. By Pro, it means the perfect dimensions.


This means a 日本けん玉協会Nihon Kendama Kyoukai (Nihon Kendama Kyoukai). These can be purchased in Japan of course , generally on-line and at some souvenir shops – look for the sticker.


If you can have 20-25 kendama the students enjoy having one each. I have also had students sharing between 2. At the end of term, you can have activity stations set up with;

  • Kendamavideo3
  • Daruma-otoshi
  • Tops (koma)
  • Origami
  • Chopstick activities                   and they can move from activity to activity.

I have been asked how long it takes students to become skillful at kendama. This depends on whether or not they have their own. I showed them the Kendama USA YouTube clips and that was the end of it….they bought kendama and started practising. At the bus stop, waiting for parents after school, in the playground and at home of course. In 3 to 4 weeks they can become very skillful. The video we made was after 6 to 8 weeks of them practising. Even since making it, they have learned new tricks and are looking forward to the next one.

I have also been asked about running a Kendama Contest. We had one at school during the last week in Term 4, 2013. There would be many different ways of running it. I did it at lunchtime which worked well.

The divisions were

  • kendama compYear 2/3
  • Year 4/5
  • Year 6/7
  • Overall Boy Champion
  • Overall Girl Champion

I didn’t screen for skill first as it was meant to be fun with a lot of students participating.

Round 1 :  BIG CUP – LITTLE CUP – TOWER and  12 students made it  through

Round 2 : AROUND THE WORLD. This is as above,  then catching on the spike at the end. The fastest 8 students progressed.

Round 3 : AROUND THE WORLD plus ORBIT. The fastest 6 students progressed.

Round 4 : As above, the fastest student was the winner. You can add any tricks to the challenge. You will see competitors challenging each other to tricks sometimes in a contest. Or a set routine that they have to complete.

For the girls, their last challenge was AROUND THE WORLD. However as more girls practise, they will get more difficult challenges.

The Overall Boy Winner final was made up of the final 3-4 students from the Year Level finals.

boys heat

NEXT TIME – I would get students to demonstrate to me BEFORE the contest that they can do a basic entry level trick. For example BIG CUP – LITTLE CUP – TOWER。Then the competition day is a little less hectic.

For prizes, I went to the $2 shop and bought big (oversized) medals and little trophies, also prizes for the winners. I did about 10 Lucky Door prizes too so that students who did not enter still had the chance for a prize. This was fun. I drew 2 names out between each division. Yr 4/5 medal

Cruze medalPlease contact me if you have any further questions. Also if you have done something similar, please let me know what worked well.