Local professional kendama players Haley Bishoff and Molly Harney have recently begun hosting weekly kendama jam sessions at Franklin Square Park (12th and Polk), Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. But what exactly is a kendama?
Though calling it a jam session might make it seem like a kendama is some sort of instrument, a kendama is actually a Japanese toy. It consists of a ken, which is the handle and its three cups, and a tama, which is the ball attached to the ken by a string. The goal for both private practice and sport is to master various tricks with hand-eye coordination and a lot of patience. Worldwide, the kendama community is massive. In Corvallis, the community is new but growing fast.
“[Corvallis is] a perfect place to try and create a kendama scene because of how many young people there are,” said Bishoff, who also happens to be the world’s first professional kendama player. While the sport is currently predominantly male, Harney added that the “ladies’ scene is growing and it is amazing to see more and more girls and women join the community!”
Ready to learn something new this summer? The first event was held on June 21; sessions continue throughout the season on Tuesdays at the park.
“The meetups will consist of mini games with prizes, contests, and making new friends who also love kendama,” said Bishoff. “Anyone is welcome, and everyone is encouraged to come, even if they have never picked up a kendama before.”