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Dazzling Kendama Tricks in the World of Beautiful, Dreamy Japan: A Short Film for the Cannes!


Dazzling Kendama Tricks in the World of Beautiful, Dreamy Japan: A Short Film for the Cannes!

What's this Challenge about?

Hi, I’m Takeo Nagura, a film director. Our goal here is to create a short film on Kendama, a Japanese hand-held wooden toy that allows the player to explore a variety of skills and tricks. We aim to send out the film to the Cannes Film Festival and win its short film award.

The film will feature Zoomadanke, a duo of Kendama performers from Japan. They captivate the audience’s hearts with a wide range of amazing Kendama tricks combined with acrobatic choreography.

With gorgeous cinematography and music, the film will explore the enchanting world of Kendama performance in depth.

Zoomadanke: Ken Kodama (left) and Hiroki Iijima (right)
Kendama performer duo. As advocates of the joy of playing Kendama, they have performed across Japan in events and shows, appeared on TV programs, and taught Kendama classes.

Discovery of the Real World of Kendama

For a long time, Kendama to me was just a children’s toy, just as it probably is to most Japanese people. But everything changed when I saw Zoomadanke’s performance for the first time.

Using the “children’s toy,” they presented a spectacular stage consisting of mind-blowing Kendama tricks and sharp and often synchronized choreography. At times, they handled two Kendamas, tactfully and seamlessly switching to a bigger one and performing amazing stunts. The stage was as artistic and surprising as a magic show and as funny and intriguing as a stand-up comedy. I instantly fell in love with Kendama and Zoomadanke’s ability to turn the simple “toy” into a magical tool.

Someone once told me, “When you discover something truly good, your eyes are mesmerized, your heart fills with feelings, and your whole body experiences it before you know.” That was exactly what happened when I discovered the real world of Kendama.

Tokyo Kendama Project

Tokyo Kendama Project is a project to delivering the enchanting world of Kendama through visual art to the world.

Tokyo Kendama Project was born from simple love and passion for Kendama.

It was at a party hosted by my German friend. His house was filled with Kendama players including Zoomadanke, who casually showed off their tricks and exchanged tips in a friendly atmosphere. As I started talking with them, I learned how much they wished more people would realize the joy of playing Kendama. They also asked me if there was any way they could contribute to society using their Kendama skills. Touched by their enthusiasm, I discussed it more with Zoomadanke, and we decided to start creating and publishing videos to share this fascinating piece of Japanese culture to all over the country and the rest of the world.

The First Two Tokyo Kendama Project Videos

At first, all we had was only a simple idea; Let’s play Kendama, film it, and publish it on the internet! But in what style? How should it be presented? We searched and watched a number of video clips of Kendama players from all over the world, and realized that there aren’t enough PVs of Japanese Kendama players to show the world the true appeal of this Japanese tradition. We also noticed that most of those videos were entertaining only for Kendama players. We hoped to create something that would reach to the audience who didn’t play Kendama.

After practicing with Tokyo Kendama Project vol. 0.1, which remains unpublished, we set off to create the next one, Tokyo Kendama Project vol. 1.0. The clip featured my German friend, who is also a Kendama player, and followed examples of European Kendama PVs.

This PV, with a “stylish and cool” theme, wasn’t bad for a starter, but we wondered if this was powerful enough to reach the non-Kendama-playing audience. We wanted to create a whole new Kendama PV with quality cinematography that would appeal to anyone and everyone, whether or not they played Kendama. That became our goal for vol. 2.

How could we create something that would reach out to both Kendama fans and non-Kendama fans? We needed to combine Kendama with something that would intrigue many. That something, we finally decided, was Japan. Japanese culture was something that would appeal to many in and out of the country, and it was also what we knew very well.

Our plan was to integrate Japanese traditional dance with Kendama performance. First, we needed to choreograph Japanese dance that matched various Kendama tricks and moves. We also arranged live music using traditional instruments and created a red-themed Japanese-style room. It wasn’t an easy process, but as we made progress step-by-step, we could tell something good was coming out of this.

In the end, Tokyo Kendama Project vol. 2, Utakata, turned into an unconventional Kendama PV clip that offers the beauty of Kendama performance and Japanese dance in the dreamy world of Japanese beauty, where the old and the new melt together creating a magical atmosphere.

This video was received well in the international community a well, appearing on Rocket News 24 USA and receiving comments and praises from the foreign audience.

And Now...Tokyo Kendama Project vol.3, “Goka Kenran (Dazzlingly Gorgeous)”

With our experience with the first two Tokyo Kendama Project works, we’re now moving on to production of a short film, “Goka Kenran (Dazzlingly Gorgeous)” (tentative title). This time, we’re going to convey truths of human emotions through through dazzles of Kendama performance. To achieve even higher quality, we’ll be putting more work into art and costumes of the film as well.

We’re aiming for the Cannes Film Festival so that this film will reach a bigger audience. While we still plan on making the film accessible on Youtube and other video-sharing services, we hope to show it on the big screen in Cannes and win the award. We believe it’ll provide more chances for many to watch the film and learn about Kendama.

Discover the gorgeous, dreamy world of Japanese beauty through beautiful cinematography. This film will mesmerize your eyes, fill your heart with feelings, and let your body experience a whole new sensation!

Message from Hideto Mori, Film Director

I’ve been waiting for this; Takeo Nagura creating his own film! Having worked with him on many projects, I already knew his excellence in set design and editing. After watching Tokyo Kendama Project vol. 2., I’m certain that he will be also be amazing as a director. I have no doubt his new work will open the door to the Cannes.
If you are a Kendama fan, enjoyed the beautiful PVs, or are simply interested in who Takeo Nagura is, please, just support this project! I guarantee you won’t regret it.

How Will We Use the Money?

Actual filming (including equipment) 150,000 JPY
Lighting (including equipment) 100,000 JPY
Costumes (production and styling) 150,000 JPY
Set design, props, art 250,000 JPY
VFX (special effects) 70,000 JPY
Make-up art 50,000 JPY
Sound track production 100,000 JPY
Other production fees 130,000 JPY
Filming trip costs 200,000 JPY
Miscellaneous 70,000 JPY
Performance fees 110,000 JPY
Shipping for DVD (rewards) 40,000 JPY

Total: 1,420,000 JPY


Jan. 2014 Start filming
Feb. 2014 Complete production
Mar. 2014 The Cannes Film Festival!