Filed Under:

The Kendama: Can A Wooden Toy Be A Viral Sensation?

Play associated audio

At a time when young people of all ages are focused on electronics and apps, the popularity of the kendama — a traditional Japanese toy made out of wood — seems like an anomaly. It hasn't caught on all over the U.S. yet, but it's a big craze on the West Coast and sales are growing. Kendama sellers say Sacramento is a particular hot spot. That's where 9-year-old Logan Tosta has honed his skills. (That's him in the video above.)

Logan says it took him about a day to learn how to do his first trick, landing the wooden ball in one of the cups. It was a month before he could get the ball on the spike consistently. Now, he can do tricks with names like Airplane, Jumping Stick and UFO, flipping the stick to catch the ball in different ways.

Kendamas seem to be the buzz these days at elementary schools all around Sacramento. My kindergartener knew all about them when I brought it up. He said his friends have them. Now he does, too.

But kendamas aren't that easy to find. They're usually at comic book stores, Japanese grocery stores, or online. And they aren't cheap. The one I bought cost about $17.

Vendors are reporting an uptick in the Midwest now, especially in Minnesota and Illinois. Seems like it might be possible for kendamas to go viral, even with no batteries, no screen, no buttons ... just a wooden ball attached to a wooden stick with a string.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Jon Stewart, Faking It and Making It

As host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart is a funny man with a serious message. Originally broadcast July 22, 2005.
NPR

Humans Aren't The Only Ones To Go Ape Over Diets: Chimps Detox, Too

A group of Ugandan chimps has found a great way to boost their mineral intake and neutralize bitter compounds in their diet: by eating clay.
NPR

Despite High Expectations, Sentencing Reform Proposals Still On Ice

Sen. John Cornyn suggested a hearing and markup on reform proposals could be imminent. But multiple sources tell NPR that concrete language is still being hotly debated behind closed doors.
NPR

WikiLeaks Docs Purport To Show The U.S. Spied On Japan's Government

The documents also allege that the U.S. targeted Japanese banks and companies, including Mitsubishi.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.