TOP -> 2016/3/24 Wooden Kendama made by KARIMOKU

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Wooden Kendama made by KARIMOKU
[Ordering term] From March 24th (Thu) 2016 0:00 to Apr 30th (Sat) 2016 23:59
We interviewed Mr. Ikeda who createdWooden Kendama made by KARIMOKU
――It is your third time working with CJ MART, thank you.
It is Kendama this time, please tell us the most difficult part of the production.

Thank you for working with us again. When I was told that "you want to make Kendama",
I was surprised. Until now, KARIMOKU has received many offers to produce "furniture"
but we have never expected to receive an offer of a "traditional toy" in such small size.

We usually produce large furniture and we have less experience to make such small things.
Therefore, the most difficult part was to persuading our in-house craftsmen to understand the significance of this project.

――Do you play Kendama?

No but I remember I had a Kendama when I was kid. It's an embarrassing story but
I was able to "put the ball on the plate" in about once every 10 times I tried.
I was not very good at it but this collaboration gave me an opportunity to increase
my passion towards Kendama. Now I am able to "place the ball in the spike" once every five times,
though I'm not yet good.

――Please tell us how this collaboration with GLOKEN happened.

When we received the request to produce "Kendama", we did not know how to create a Kendama.
Without any experience or knowledge of Kendama, it seemed impossible to manufacture
so we consulted with MEDICOM TOY and they introduced us to a Japanese company that pursue the new Kendama concept which was GLOKEN.

GLOKEN's request to build a new Kendama was very precise.
At first, I couldn't understand the meaning of their precise requests. After making many prototypes, their request was very precise to even adjust few millimeters. Going forward, I became to realize that all of their demand was for the players who play with this product. I think their honest and artisanal commitment are absolutely transmitted to the players who play with this product.

――Unlike the previous BE@RBRICKs, this product is for playing by hand. Did you choose the woods especially for playing purpose?

Absolutely. This time we decided to use the "beech" wood. It's a heavy hard wood. When playing Kendama, the ball and the spike hits each other very often.
If it was a soft wood, I think it will be difficult to play with consistence because the shape will change. Also, I think that silky texture when you touch the beech wood is good.

――Is there any item you want to create in wood (other than furniture)?

Everyday life items such as "bags" or "shoes".
I would like to take an advantage of the quality of the wood in life items for everyone.

――Please comment for your clientele and tell us what kind of plans and aspirations you have for the near future?

KARIMOKU is a wooden furniture manufacturer founded in 1940.
In addition to furniture production, in the 1960s, we also produced the piano keyboard which required accuracy.
As time passed, we are now producing electronic piano at the request of another company in 2015.
It is a project that changed the concept of the electronic piano.
We actively challenge to projects other than furniture and we want to be an attractive company.
We want to continue transmitting new concepts.
Karimoku Marketing Center
New business projects
Ikeda Yoshikazu
We interviewed Mr. Kubota who createdWooden Kendama made by KARIMOKU
――Global Kendama Network was established in 2012. Tell us about the history of the establishment.

I began playing Kendama around 2000 and I wanted to make Kendama popular all over the world so I went to Mongolia and Mozambique to actively introduce them. Meanwhile, I felt that Kendama was gradually getting popular in the USA and Europe through video websites or SNS from around 2007 to 2008. Around 2010, professional teams were born in USA and the event called "DAMA festival" was held. In the event, loud music was played by DJs and I've never-before-seen such performance. Children were cheering and making long lines for autographs of the professional players. When I saw that, I was shocked at the difference of the atmosphere from the festivals held in Japan. In terms of the evolution of skills and coolness, Japan, where Kendama was born was completely behind them. I even envied them since they were simply having fun and sincerely enjoying it.

I wanted to play Kendama with overseas players and be friends with them. I was excited just to think about it. I thought it would be an opportunity to change the image of Kendama in Japan. I established this company because I believed that my mission was to send out aggressive transmission from Japan where Kendama was born. Also, I felt we needed to play the role as the center of the Kendama worldwide network in the future.
I established Global Kendama Network in 2012 and held Kendama World Cup in Hatsukaichi city, Hiroshima Japan in 2014 which is known as a birth place of Kendama.
Event participants came from around the world and compete for the world championship.

――We can see your passion for Kendama through your website.
Tell us when you become addicted to Kendama? How did you start? What is the charm of Kendama?

I was first interested in Kendama when I was in the lower grades of elementary school.
At the time, I was influenced by a Kendama Manga and I bought a plastic Kendama at a candy store. I tried the tricks so many times but it was very difficult.
I had quit as soon as I realized that it looks fun and easy only in the "Manga world".
In the winter when I was in my sixth grade in elementary school, I traveled with my father and he bought me a wooden Kendama as a souvenir. At the same night, I remember that I was able to do "Moshikame" 52 times which I was not able to do when I was little. I was addicted for several months because mastering the skills such as "airplane" and "around the world" after practicing over and over again was an irresistible joy. It was my pleasure to master the difficult skills which was listed in the Kendama book and I even wrote that "My treasure is Kendama" in my elementary graduation book.
However, I gradually faded out because there was nobody playing Kendama around me and I did not have a chance to learn more difficult skills.

After that, I became a college student and entered Judo club but I had to stop by the summer of my first year because of my back injury. I went to the hospital every day for 8 months for rehabilitation. At that time, I started to play Kendama again. My skill had become surprisingly poor but I was hooked to practice again. I was practicing 3~4 hours without noticing. Kendama became a ray of light in tough times of my life. I wanted to be the champion in Japan so I practiced hard.

On the other hand, I was derided playing Kendama as a college student and I wondered
"why aren't people playing Kendo when its such fun"? I strongly wanted to change the image of Kendama which were "children's toy", "old toy" and "toy for lonely people". I made a Kendama club to tell how fun Kendama are to children and adults, not only for the kids. In the summer of 2002, I hitchhiked over 2 months and held events and performances as well as the Kendama class in various regions of Japan for Kendama dissemination. I strongly felt that Kendama had the power to connect people. Fascination of Kendama is so fun and you can make a lot of friends. Of course it depends on the person. It is OK to enjoy playing by yourself or just to look at the wooden patterns. I believe that they are all considered as fellow Kendama companions.

――Kendama is familiar from the old days in Japan but revival of Kendama seems as "Re-import from overseas", What do you think about it?

There is no problem at all. Since 2014, the winners of Kendama World Cup or "Cash Flow" are all foreign players. When I saw foreign players and the evolution of Kendama, I was thrilled for the freedom of their idea and their high skilled performance. I absolutely thought I wanted to play with them. They are amazing and I simply respect them and adore their effort. We love Kendama and therefore our roots are the same. By the way, the new design or the new style performances and skills of Kendama gets attention from the "re-import" of Kendama but the essence to learn and spread "joy of Kendama" and "lifestyle with Kendama" is something I learned from them and want to spread to the world.

I also think the overseas players also learned a lot of things from Japan and they took advantage in their countries and regions. I think it is important to build a relationship that enhance each other. Things we can transmit from Japan are things such as the history, technology of making things, event promotion and Omotenashi.

――Please tell us how this collaboration with KARIMOKU happened and please tell us about the feature of this item.

The corporate philosophy of KARIMOKU is "the furniture manufacturer that knows trees and loves wood". It is a company that knows everything about woods. The mainstream of Kendama has been made out of woods from the old days and people loved them. Kendama made by Karimoku would take an advantage of the quality of the material which would be made with great care which will be easy to play with and fits inside your hands. I hope it will be used by customers all over the world for a long period of time. I am also expecting that the people who hardly know Kendama will get a chance to know about Kendama.

――Do you have a material you want to try to make Kendama in the future.

Most of Kendama was made of beech, cherry and zelkova but I think it would be interesting
if Kendama can be made with various wood around the world. Also new materials such as resin or plastic.

――Please tell us about this project with C.J.MART

When I traveled to Vietnam the other day, I saw BE@RBRICK in a young photographer's studio. He loves Japanese culture and manufacturing and have been trying to spread Kendama in Vietnam for the past few years. CJMART plays the role of delivering excellent contents and culture of Japan to the world and that was a moment when I felt it by myself. The simple layout and information of CJ MART website is extremely sophisticated. I think those were built from reliable confidence.

――Tell us about your plans and aspirations for the near future.

The current style of Kendama has not even past 100 years. It has not even past 10 years since Kendama was known to the world. It is a new thing and a new industry.
It has been spreading rapidly in the past few years. Currently, there are 40 to 50 countries who have core Kendama players but I think it will soon spread to all the countries and regions in the near future.

Kendama World Cup is a place to compete for the world's best and the place that players get together. In the future, we would like to grow the event that players from every country of the world would come and participate. I am currently working to prepare the world ranking system of Kendama. Kendama is of course interesting as competitions and tournaments but it also gives us a chance to enjoy with people from different background, ages and countries. The person who just enjoys playing and the players who competes for the world championships are all equal in front of the joy of the same "accomplishment".

I would like many people to play Kendama. Once you shout "I did it!", you'll be addicted to it!

Tamotsu KUBOTA (GLOKEN President)

Born 1981 in Nara, Japan. Graduated Hiroshima University.
Started Kendama in 2000.
Won the all Japan student Kendama championship and all Japan Moshikame championship in 2003.
Achievement of World record of Kendama (Moshikame 8 hours without failure)
In 2004, participated as Japan international overseas volunteer in Mozambique for 2 years to teach science and teach Kendama to Mozambique children.
"Kendama dream foundation" after returning to Japan. Raising fund by selling Kendama. Donated the funds to the Mozambique Ministry of Education for education support in 2012. Established Global Kendama Network in 2012, building relationships among Kendama players and working on spreading Kendama worldwide with the slogan "connecting the world with Kendama".

Global Kendamas Network (GLOKEN)

Since its establishment in 2012, GLOKEN is working to spread Kendama internationally with the slogan "Connecting the world with Kendama". Since 2014, they hold Kendama World Cup every year in Hatsukaichi city, Hiroshima Japan which is known as the birth place of Kendama. They are expanding the Kendama community by holding events and research Kendama to transmit "KENDAMA" into a world-class experience content.