During those rare times when they weren’t engaged in an epic Minecraft battle or watching reruns on Nicklodeon, the JuiceBox children spent the summer trying to master the Kendama.
And that was totally okay with us. The Kendama has everything we love: It’s made locally (in Bloomington by what appear to be local punk-genius skater-boy types who run a company called Sweets). We purchased it locally for under $20 (in Excelsior, at Something Safari, which west metro parents-of-a-certain-age will recall used to be in Hopkins).
And—here’s the kicker—it’s not a screen! The Kendama is simply a wooden ball, a wooden spike with cups on the ends, and a string. It may have origins in Japan, where children certainly never play video games, but the Kendama looks and feels a lot like a North Woods yo-yo, something junior lumberjacks might have played while Paul Bunyan slept in a little on Saturday mornings.
Mastering tricks with it is excellent practice for hand-eye coordination and body-balance awareness, especially for squirrely elementary school kids who consistently return home from school ready to destroy all of your nice things just by running through the door.
Truth be told, we JuiceBox grownups would rather spend all day watching this Minneapolis-made, beautifully shot video of the Kendama kids pwning the thing than actually practice the Kendama.
But we’re old. We have the hand-eye coordination of three-toed sloths, especially if those sloths were also three-fingered.