Right now, good parents from around the world have similar concerns. They are concerned that their young and growing children are spending far too much time in front of the TV and playing online or video games. They are also worried that the young children of today are not spending enough time out of doors and spending time with the birds and trees in the fresh air, playing games that many parents may even have forgotten about.
In today’s incredibly busy twenty first century work and living environment it seems like so long ago when we were young and free. In many parts of the world, neighborhoods have become so congested and there are unsafe areas too, leaving little space for young children to have free reign, as is their right. The Japanese have similar concerns about good parenting and how our children grow up as we do. They are as concerned about our young children’s healthy development.
While they have been culpable in introducing young children to fantastic and addictive online video games, they have made, and still continue to, some more important and worthwhile contributions towards children’s education and mental and physical wellbeing. Take the famous Japanese game of Kendama, for instance. Not only is it a game of thinking and physical skill, it is also a noteworthy introduction to culture and art.
The game of Kendama was invented in the early years of the nineteenth century. It was motivated by a desire to feed young children’s imagination while playing about and at the same time helping them develop their physical and mental co-ordinatory skills. But like online games, and perhaps this time, in a healthy sort of way, this game can be quite addictive. Once you start, you may not know when to stop. You are continuously at your wit’s end trying to improve your skills and challenge yourself to go one better with the Kendama toy’s handle, ball and cups.
Not just one, but three cups. The ball, attached to a string, must be pirouetted into one of those three cups. But it is not just a standard matter of simply maneuvering the ball into one of the cups. The game is designed to encourage its players to try new and inventive and acrobatic ways to place ball into cups. That’s the nature of the competition. Because competition this game of Kendama is today. It is now no longer a worthwhile educational game for young children to play, it is now a competitive sport, growing in popularity in different parts of the world, not just in Japan, played by grown men and women just like you.
And among these fiercely competitive men and women will be concerned parents too. Some of them are now making a fine living from this cultural game of mental and physical skill. That’s because they have now taken this game to a professional level.