Review of the Yumu kendama
10. 4. 2011
Initially, the Yumu appears to be a strange concept. Stripped down, it looks and feels very much like a regular kendama: three cups and a spike. But with a hole in each cup, you are given the ability to add one, two or three extra spikes.
This opens the door for some new tricks, but closes it on others.
Yumu kendamas are available in red, black, blue and plain tints.
The Yumu comes with one extra peg and another two more can be added. It feels a little heavier than, say, an Ozora (one of the JKA’s lightest kendamas), so not quite as agile. Don’t let that put you off, Ozora fans; it’s still easy enough to handle and doesn’t feel vastly different. The paint finish on the ball is quite sturdy and a little sticky – ideal for those lunar/lighthouse tricks.
I first tried it with one peg inserted into the small cup, thus making a two-spike kendama. I tried a few spike-to-spike transfers, which at first provides a mild challenge for the experienced player. I then tried it with all pegs inserted: a four-spike kendama. My first thought was to try variations on the traditional Around the World trick (spiking the ball on the small cup, big cup, base cup and then main spike). I then tried it the opposite way round by holding the ball instead of the ken and spiking each cup in turn. A little more challenging and quite enjoyable to try.
After that, the tricks that came to mind were more difficult: a base cup Bird (pulling up on the ken so the ball lands resting on the lip of the base cup, leaning on the base spike); a whirlwind big cup spike (throwing the ball up from the big cup spike and while it’s in the air, throwing the ken through 360° and catching the ball in the starting position). Beyond this, I could think of little more than variations on tricks that would be performed on a regular kendama.
For me the Yumu really came alive when I attempted suicide and string-wrap tricks. Again, I could do little more than variations on tried and tested suicide tricks, but still there was a novelty in trying to catch the ball or stick in ways that would otherwise not be possible. For those that don’t know, suicide tricks are where the player launches the entire kendama spinning into the air and catches either the ball or the ken and usually attempts a spike trick. String-wraps are, as their name suggests, tricks in which the player allows the string to wrap around the hand or fingers and usually links into a suicide trick. Some weird and wonderful combinations can be spawned from this.
You will find straight away that the spikes in the cups are not as long as the main spike when inserted. This makes for some very wobbly catches, especially on the base spike. Trying the same peg in different holes will produce different results: it will quickly wedge into some and fall easily out of others. You can adjust the length of a spike by sticking a piece of adhesive tape around the base and inserting it into the hole. This will firmly wedge the spike in place before the full length of it can be pushed in. However, there is a drawback. Inevitably, some tricks will “hammer” the spike further into the hole, so not only will you once again have a shorter spike, but will have the added problem of how to remove it without causing damage.
In conclusion, the Yumu provides an amusing distraction from Shin-Fujis, SunRises or any of the other well-established models, but I doubt it will make a lifetime convert out of any player. It can certainly be used to spice up your edits if you happen to do any. Since it’s fairly new perhaps it still has greatly untapped potential and is simply waiting for the right player to realise it and leave the rest of us standing.
It’s worth checking out, but keep your favourite kendama within reach.
My Yumu kendama edit