Kendama craze hits the Twin Cities

6:05 AM, May 28, 2012   |    comments
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RAMSEY, Minn. - There's a new hot toy in the Twin Cities and it's not a video game.

Nope, it's like the old time cup and a ball game, parents.  Actually it's three cups, a spike and a ball, a traditional Japanese toy called a kendama.

Fourth-grader Jordan Knott has a couple of kendamas and said, "I just got addicted to it!"

Kendamas have quickly become an obsession among school kids in the northwest metro. 

At Tornado Alley Sportswear in Ramsey they fly off the shelves.

Owner Martin Schindel said, "Hats off to my 12-year-old son who said, 'Dad, you should carry kendamas in the store.'  And I said, 'What are kendamas?'  And here we are today. I sell about 80 a day."

But where did they come from?

Matt "Sweets" Jorgenson first saw Japanese snowboarders playing with them online a couple years ago.

Jorgenson said, "I couldn't find one in the United States.  That's what made me start the business."

Jorgenson created Sweet's Kendamas.  He supplies shops like Tornado Alley Sportswear with custom-painted kendamas that are made at his shop in Bloomington. 

He said the trend that began in Georgia, then Seattle, is now huge here, "It's crazy how much it has blown up here.  It's Anoka, it's Brooklyn Park and it's all those places right up here."

Sweets Kendamas also brings pros into stores to teach kids tricks like the airplane and lighthouse.

Fifteen-year-old William Penniman of Georgia was one of the pros Jorgenson brought in to demonstrate at Tornado Alley on Saturday.  He said, "To give you an example of how fast this spreads, one kid had it at my school.  Two or three months later everybody had one."

Kendamas run anywhere from $20 to $50 depending on the size and paint job.

Some kids own more than one.

In fact, kendamas are so popular they've been banned from some schools. 

But adults, perhaps we should be rejoicing that the kendama craze is so big.

Jordan Knott said, "My brother used to play a lot of video games and now I barely see him on them."

One of the participants on Saturday called it a, "one more time toy" because when you put down a kendama you just have to pick it up again saying, "Just one more time."

You can find Tornado Alley Sportwear of Ramsey on Facebook.  But if you're not on Facebook, you can call them at (763) 951-3094.

For Sweets Kendamas, click on the link above.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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