Let the games begin!

Kendama popped onto the Kaua‘i scene several weeks ago, with the first sighting at a craft fair and then getting established at Vibe Auto Sounds in Puhi and now at Deja Vu in Kukui Grove Center.

Described by the Kendama USA website as a simple, productive, interactive toy which strengthens mental and physical skills while playing, the kendama craze has spanned the island.

The Kendama Co. website states the audience for kendama is unlike most other skills sports such as yo-yo or juggling in that you do not have to be a freak of nature to master the game, and there is no point in the progression from newbie to kendama expert where one will be faced with an impossible next step.

For Kaua‘i, the next kendama step is the Kendama Summer Battle 2012 scheduled for Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. across from Sueoka’s Store near the Koloa Mill monument and The Kaua‘i Food Truck.

Described as the “first legitimate” kendama battle, entrants pay a $15 entry fee for an opportunity to emerge with a blue shenzhu kendama plus a cash award for beginners, a creamsicle sweets collab and cash award for intermediate and a Gold Dragon Oozora and a cash award for advanced players.

Additionally, winners of the different divisions earn a free lunch from The Kaua‘i Food Truck and free standup paddle lessons from TeeBird.

“This new Japanese wooden toy is taking off very quickly here on Kaua‘i,” said Jaeda Dabin, one of the organizers for Jade Green Project, in an email. “All the kids are into it.”

Dabin said kendama, literally translated to mean “ken” for the wooden cups and “tama” for the wooden ball attached to the wooden cups on a handle, is actually an old toy made in Japan back in the 1860s to train troops, school children and others for concentration, eye-hand coordination.

“Joining the Jade Green Project, the Kaua‘i Food Truck and Dr. Michael Murray are sponsoring the event,” Dabin said. “Dr. Murray is helping us by letting us use his property to hold this event.”

Visit www.kendamaco.com for information on the new craze. Call Darrell Dabin at 652-3917, or Jaeda Dabin at 634-1663 for more information on the Saturday Kendama Battle Summer 2012.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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