Class Ideas

Let's Learn about Kendama!

Author:Junko Nichols

Topic/Goals:Body and Health、Communication、Comparison、Connection、Link with Outside of Classroom、Negotiation、Perspective、Spare Time and Sports、Technology


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The students will watch a video of Mr Komoto who launched a new wave of kendama, answer questions and talk about what they saw. Making kendama and doing kendama dance/exercise are opportunities to connect with other key learning areas. Students will also research the history of kendama and learn about the changes to games and lifestyles over time.


・Learn about Kendama
・Think about traditional games and play besides kendama
・Think about how kendama have changed

Target Year 1-8
Japanese Level Beginner
What to prepare
  • Prepare to be able to watch the video.


【Open the class using the video】
This video is 2 mins. 11 secs. long; it may be a good idea to show it in two parts, or show either the first half or the last half only at one time.

Part 1 (0:00-0:43)
Let's watch the video, then think about and talk about what we saw.

Suggested Questions
1. What can you see in the video?

2. Where is it taking place? Why do you think the video was taken there?

3. What is Komoto doing?

4. What did you think of Komoto when you saw him in the video? What kind of person is he? (The teacher may assist the students to say what they want to say, and if necessary, provide new vocabulary.)

5. What do you think Komoto's occupation is?

6. When do you think Komoto started working with kendama?

7. If you could talk to Komoto, what question would you like to ask?

Part 2 (from 0:44)
Let's look at what the video says about kendama tricks. What kinds of tricks does Komoto introduce?

Suggested Questions
1. How many tricks does Komoto introduce? (3)

2. What are the names of the tricks? (Uguisu, todai, sakaotoshi)

3. About how much do you think Komoto has practiced?

4. There are level certifications for kendama. By looking at the Japan Kendama Association website, let's look and see how Komoto's skills measure up. See .

5. Here is the Kendama certification list at Global Kendamas Network. Can we find the tricks Komoto shows in the video? Let's have a look.

【Let's Try】
■On the Kendama Theme
・Play with kendama
If the school has kendama, use them to practice.

・Try making "cup kendama"
If school has no kendama, try making it [in class].

・Try Kendama Calisthenics

・Try Kendama Dancing

・Have students check various skills on the websites and present what they think.
Teacher: What kind of trick would you like to perorm? How many hours a week would you like to practice? Let's share with the class.
Use various expressions like: "-o, yatte mitai desu" "mainichi __fun (__pun) renshu shitai desu"

Kendama Associations
Global Kendamas Network

・Perform Kendama together with Sister School
If your school has kendama and your Japanese sister school, too, has kendama, try making various kinds of videos and showing them to each other.
Call your sister school in Japan by Skype and perform kendama together.

Note Note
Recently people in all sorts of communities are recording their kendama skills by video and sharing them. Even though the kendama is the same, the backgrounds against which it is performed all differ, and students can improve their viewing skills by obtaining information from looking at such backgrounds. Exchanging videos with a sister school is one way to discover various new things about each other.

■Buddy activities
・Students of the upper grades practice kendama and then teach it to younger students.
・Students of the upper grades work with younger students in constructing handmade kendama, showing them how it is made.
・Hold a school tournament featuring kendama and Japanese games.

【Let's Research Kendama】
・Learning about kendama at the website below, look up the kanji.

・Research the history of kendama and make a presentation about it.
① When did kendama first appear?
② Where did it originate?
③ Who made kendama?
④ Has the design of kendama changed?
⑤ Kendama come in various designs in different parts of the world. Which of the designs do you like? Please explain why.

☆Related sites
Kids Web

Global Kendamas Network

Japan Kendama Association

・Read articles about games other than kendama
①Summarize findings in a chart or chronology
②Among traditional games, are there any you have never played? What is it? What new kinds of games would you like to play.
③What traditional games or toys do you have in your country? Where did those games or toys come from?

・Ask the adults what games they played as children
Have students ask their fathers, mothers, grandfathers and/or grandmothers what games they played as children. Have them share what they learned in the class. Then create a graph showing what they reported. Create a Venn diagram showing how the students' own games and play compare to those of their parents' or grandparents' generations. What do we learn from the comparison?

【Let's talk about kendama】
• Let's talk about what is good about kendama.
Read the following article for source material: (English). Exercise for the whole body; body fitness; fun as group play, from children to elders; can be played/performed anywhere, etc.
• Have a look at the newly devised kendama shown at the websites below and discuss their characteristics and merits.
Click Nippon Archive (page 3)

①Are these traditional kendama? Why do you think they are/are not? What is different about them?
②Do you think it is good to change traditions? Do you think it is better not to change traditions? Why do you think so?
③What do you think are the advantages of the dendama and kendama dancing?
④Do you want to try dendama or kendama dancing?
⑤How do you think the kendama will change from now on?

☆Kendama picture books
Ringo to kendama [Apple and Kendama]『りんごとけんだま』ISBN-13: 978-4893096296
Shippai no renshu [Practice in Failing]『しっぱいのれんしゅう』ISBN-13: 978-4569681719
Kendama no ehon [The Kendama Picture Book] 『けんだま』の絵本 ISBN-13: 978-489423353

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