The kendama is a traditional Japanese toy that first circulated in Nagasaki in 1777. They were brought in from the west through trading but became more of a popular pastime in Japan where they were adopted as a mainstay in toy shops.
With a body that resembles a hammer, the kendama is played by attempting to catch a tethered ball in three “cups” attached to the body, or by shooting a single spoke through a hole on the ball.
While it is a pretty challenging toy, there are many enthusiasts that have developed a deep interest in this hobby. If you’re one of those many, and you want to find the best kendama to bring your skills to a new level, these premium choices should end your search.
Top 10 Kendamas Table
How to Choose a Kendama
Kendamas have changed through the years, and different designs have sprung up to satisfy different users; however, because most of the kendamas available look generally the same in terms of shape and style, it can be difficult to determine whether or not the one you’ve chosen really is the right one for you.
Take these tips when making a purchase to make sure you get only the best kendama for your level of experience and playing style.
- Paint and Aesthetic. Some hobbyists purchase kendamas for their aesthetic appeal, others still choose intricate designs because it makes the entire process of playing with a kendama a richer visual experience.
If you’ve ever seen someone skillfully handling a kendama, it’s easy to see that these toys can be very visually stimulating. For many expert users, the more intricate the design or paint job on the model, the more enjoyable it is to watch in action.
For beginners however, bold, striking designs can become confusing especially if you’re just learning how to play. It would be much better for first time users to purchase a single, solid colored kendama first to strip away the visual confusion and achieve an easier learning process.
- Weight. The weight of your kendama will tell you how easy it will be to get the hang of the game. Lightweight kendamas are often the best for beginners because they’re much easier to maneuver. As you improve, you can move on to heavier options to try more skills and tricks that you can perform.
- Size. When it comes to kendamas, the smaller the model, the easier it is to learn. Smaller versions of this toy have shorter strings that tether the ball to the body, and this gives users a shorter range of motion to work with. For beginners, this could mean the difference between mastery and giving up completely.
If you’re a little on the more experienced side, though, a bigger kendama will provide you greater control and more opportunities for tricks. These will also make it much easier to showcase your skills to a crowd, as most kendama players perform for small audiences.
Top 3 Best Kendama Reviews
Coming in at the top spot on our list is the Kendama Kraze Wood Toy Tribute Samurai Red & Black Pro Model. This glossy red and black model features a unique aesthetic that’s guaranteed to stand out amongst your collection.
The solid wood ball and body and the high-quality tether guarantee that this kendama will last and withstand many years of daily use. With its durable and robust structure, you can put this kendama through all sorts of tricks without worrying about wear and tear.
At a little over 7 inches in length, and at 5.6 ounces, the Kendama Kraze Wood Toy Tribute Samurai Red & Black Pro Model is ideal for more experienced users. The glossy finish also makes it much harder to balance the ball on the three cups, which adds an extra challenge for those who have been training with kendamas for a while.
With a silly, green face painted on the ball, playing with the Kaleb Kendama with Green Sour Face Ball and Extra String proves to be a very entertaining activity.
With a standard length of 7.5 inches and a weight of 5.6 ounces, this kendama toy is another premium choice for people with greater experience with its use.
The ball features a glossy finish, while the body comes in a beautifully crafted, natural wood finish that adds an extra touch of aesthetic to the toy; this allows users to interchange the ball with other options without worrying about a clashing design.
Coming with an extra string and a sticker that’s unique to the brand, this kendama has often been dubbed the best kendama because it’s highly customizable, durable, and long-lasting.
Looking for something to give a small beginner? The Toysmith Bamboo Kendama is optimized for smaller hands. At just 7 inches in length, this lightweight solid bamboo kendama is the perfect toy for starting out a kendama hobby.
The Toysmith Bamboo Kendama comes in a natural finish with minimal gloss. The lack of paint means that parents won’t have to worry about their kids complaining about chipped or cracked paint, which is a common issue among some buyers.
The kendama itself features a very beautiful, minimalistic design that perfectly captures old Japanese toy tradition. So this particular kendama might also be a good option for someone who collects the toys, or who collects traditional Japanese items for display.