What is kendama? This is a question that has no perfect answer. At first glance people think “ball in cup” or “it’s like a yoyo.” Surely no more than a toy. The reality is that Kendama is much more than that. Comparing it to Ball in Cup is like comparing checkers to chess.


The origins of Kendama are Japanese, building on the French Bilboquet, a hobby of French noblemen and at least one of the many King Henrys. The attention to detail and the combination of beauty and function is a staple of all things Japanese. In the Japanese language, KEN means Sword, and TAMA (DAMA) means Ball, making the literal translation of Kendama = SWORDBALL. Kendama is both simple and highly complex.


Simple catches tied together with flips, stalls, and string tricks allow for a martial art type movement and the ablility to build one’s own style and creativity. All tricks have names to resemble the movements. Bottom line is that Kendama is useful. It is challenging, addicting, and overall enjoyable. You get the same feeling of success with every trick as the first time landing an ollie and then progressing to a kickflip. It is a step by step progression.


First off, it isn’t just for kids, like the word Toy suggests. Kendama is for everyone. It is a bridge between skaters and bmx riders, parents and kids, people of different ages, backgrounds, hobbies, sports, and cultures. It is its own language. Kendama creates connections that people remember forever. It is about the sharing of an experience, or a shared love. Kendama connects people.

It is like a deck of cards, limitless in games to be created and enjoyed. Everyone has their own way they most enjoy it, and the experience with Kendama is unique to everyone. Kendama is similar in many ways to golf, it requires full body control. There is very small margin of error. Your brain can know what it wants your body to do, but performing with your body what your brain wants it to do, can be difficult. Strategy is very important. You learn to make small tweaks to the movements to find success.

Benefits of Kendama
(what we think)

Kendama is a self improvement tool, to improve mind and body. Many people say its meditative. Taking your mind away from other things, a brain break from heavy concentration and screens.

While you use it your brain subconsciously adopts lessons: Have a goal and Focus on it. Practice is necessary when something is difficult. Failure is normal. The only true failure is not trying. Never give up and be Patient in your pursuit of success.

Kendama is a full body, low impact exercise.

Your legs learn to move up and down in flow with the rise and fall of the ball. It is common to work up a sweat in pursuit of the next goal. Using Kendama improves hand eye coordination, gross motor skills and fine motor skills.

Everything learned is committed to Muscle memory. Stored as you work on the next move like riding a bike. Soon the same things thought impossible become attainable.


Never did we think we would spend so much of our lives thinking about a piece of wood. Well, three pieces, connected with a string. We like that Kendama is simple. We like that it is made of wood. We like that it doesn’t require batteries, you don’t have to plug it in.

In our digital age we will continue to experience technology everywhere. Screen time is both a growing requirement as well as an addiction, of all ages. We are immersed at Work, School, and in Recreation. More and more hours every day are spent digitally.

Kendama for us is another option when waiting for the train, when slightly uncomfortable in a social environment. We want to give people the option to enjoy kendama and improve themselves while doing it. Interact with eachother in different ways.

One of the things that empower our journey to work each day is that kendamas are not digital. They can be enjoyed the same as they were 100 years ago.

We share them with the people we introduce it to and teach today, and hopefully they share it with their children in the future.


We have always wanted to have studies done on the benefits of kendama on the human brain and body. So far, it has been tough to afford the research.

In a recent trip to Japan, our CEO returned with a pamphlet that was promoting the benefits of Kendama in Japanese, where kendama has existed for much longer. We were able to translate the document into English (our accountant Nikki speaks Japanese) and what we read gave us goosebumps (or chicken skin depending on where you are from.)

“According to a study conducted at the Mayo Clinic, a surprising number of aging people suffer a condition in which tiny areas of their brain become oxygen deprived. This cerebral vascular deficit sharply increases risk of stroke, dementia, and cognitive impairment. Healthy lifestyle choices can prevent and may help reverse it. As imaging techniques evolve, we are able to understand more about the workings of our brain. One of the most alarming discoveries has been the existence of ominous changes found in the brains of more than 60% of people in late middle age and beyond —changes that were once thought to be simply “age spots” on the brain, but have now taken center stage in the battle against age-related cognitive decline.

Officially known as “leukoaraiosis,” or “white matter hyperintensities,” these tiny spots appear bright white on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Scientists are only now coming to grips with the fact that these innocent-appearing spots carry grave implications for cognition, memory, personality, and even gait and balance changes as we age.

Leukoaraiosis, a small vessel disease, refers to the appearance on CT or MRI scans of damage in the white matter regions of the brain.5 Much of the brain’s total volume is composed of white matter, which runs like tracts of communications cables throughout the brain, connecting different regions so that they can coordinate and optimize the essential exchange of information.

Damage to white matter, then, is likely to result in impairment of brain functions that require complex interactions between regions. Such interactions include the so-called “executive functions” such as memory processing, decision-making, and priority-setting, as well as more basic functions like motor coordination, balance, and maintaining a normal gait.

Check out the article: Leukoaraiosis: A Hidden Cause Of Brain Aging

Ok, now check this out from the translation of the Japanese pamphlet, paraphrased to read better, as the literal translation is harder to read:

A 94 year-old Kendama Master, Mr. Kimura, shows brain age is as young as a 50 year old.

"Many kendama players seem to enjoy a healthy body and Mind. The oldest registered kendama player in the Japan Kendama Association (click here to learn more about the JKA (link to JKA history)) is 94 year old Keisuke Kimura. He has enjoyed playing Kendama every day for over 20 years. When doctors took an MRI of his brain, they found only two Leukoaraiosis (age spots) were found.

To put this into reference, normal people can develop one every year, so at 94 years old, you could have about 44 of them. Mr. Kimura has 2, the amount you would expect to find in a 50-year old individual."

Use your hand, Think Hard

We have a few trillion nerve cells in our brain, connected with neuro fibers, creating a network in the brain. Synapses transmit information in this network. When those synapses are weakened from aging, it causes this network to get cut off and lowers the brain’s cognitive function. A lower brain cognitive function causes a loss of memory and decision making ability, known as dementia.

Neurons regenerate when they are stimulated. You play kendama with your hands, and using your hands is known to stimulate many parts of the brain.

Practicing kendama also makes you think. In order to master the complicated tricks, you have to come up with a strategy and control your hand movements. These activities stimulate the frontal lobe, which is a necessary part of the brain for thinking, controlling body movement, controlling memories, and communicating with others. Practicing kendama can stimulate this frontal lobe.

It’s important to challenge new tricks.

If you keep practicing, all tricks will become easier. Trying tricks that you know won’t help your brain be active, since you need to keep learning something new to help synapses develop. In order to accomplish this, you should keep trying new tricks or tricks you haven’t been able to do. Mr. Kimura tries new tricks to pass the certificate test or to attend competitions. He also enjoys communicating with young players. All these activities must be a good stimulus to his brain.”

The above is supported in numerous studies on the effect of Juggling Such as this one: A summary from natureasia.com:

“Learning a complex task, such as juggling, which involves visual and movement processes results in changes in the connective white matter in the brain, reports a study published this week in Nature Neuroscience. Grey matter in the brain mostly consists of the cell bodies of neurons, whereas white matter consists of the projections sent out by these cell bodies connecting neurons to each other. Although previous work had reported changes in the grey matter in brains of people learning to juggle, this study is the first demonstration of comparable changes in white matter connections.

To test the idea that practicing a new skill can actually cause changes in white matter, Jan Scholz and his colleagues scanned a group of subjects before and after six weeks of juggling training. They found changes in the parietal lobe of the brain, which has previously been linked to visual and movement functions.

Moreover, the authors found training-associated grey matter changes, some of which were localized to the same area as the white matter changes. This suggests that the training influenced the structure of both the neurons' cell bodies and their projections. Both these changes were still apparent when subjects were scanned again four weeks after they had last juggled, showing that the changes are quite long lasting. However, there was no correlation between the magnitude of the grey and white matter changes which led the team to propose that these may be relatively independent processes.”

Check out the article: Training induces changes in white-matter architecture