●Hometown, NAGAI CITY
The name of Nagai is taken from the meaning of the place where water gathers. Located at the bottom of the Asahi mountain range and Iide mountain range, Mogami river, Okitama shirakawa river and Okitamanogawa river flow through the beautiful villages and the town of Nagai.Nagai is located in a lush green environment enriched with water.In Edo era, Nagai city flourished as a town of merchants with river transport through Mogami river, the cultural exchange between Edo and Nagai enriched the local culture creating a more elegant and refined city.Nagai city has several famous places for flowers that results in blossoms that show the seasons throughout the year.The famous cherry blossom tree "Isazawa Kubozakura" and "Kusaoka Daimyojinzakura" bloom in Spring.Pure white "white azalea" blooms in early Summer and 500 deferent types of "Iris" numbering in their millions tell the beginning of Summer.
The founder of Yamagata Kobo, Yosaburo Suzuki, used to look after the mountains and he fell in love with the beauty of the local woods. Our original starting point of Kendama making was to make something out of the abundance of water and woods of Nagai City that would make a social contribution.Since becoming established, we have continue doing our business supported by culture and the climate of Nagai city, Yamagata prefecture.
●The culture of Home of Ozora Kendama
For many years, Nagai city had a Kendama culture of children and adults playing Kendama at classes of elementary school or the Kendama school of the town.The Kendama culture has also grown through the "Kendama painting contest" and "Kendama competition" which is held every year for many years.Recently, economic development projects in the area have been started by "The Project of the Hometown of Kendama, Nagai" that in itself was started in 2014.Let us Introduce some of the Kendama activities of Nagai city.
There are Kendama schools which are held every year from May through November as a project of the Nishine area community center.
This is Kendama competition held in the culture festival of Nishine area in November.In the competition, they test their Kendama skills in eather with young groups or adult groups.
Nagai Kendama painting contest
This is a painting contest which is for making their own original paint work on the unique Kendama shape.This contest has been held by the Nagai branch of the Japan Kendama Association for more than 10 years.There are tourist plans under way that include Kendama painting activities and the participants can take their original cool Kendamas home.
There is a Kendama practicing space called 『～SPIKE～』 which is located two minutes working distance from Nagai station.
In 『～SPIKE～』, grade holders of Kendamado are stationed to teach how to play Kendama and certify a grade （Kyu） or Dan.
This is one of the Kendama spots in Nagai city which has written materials and information about the Kendama.
The National Sports Festival 『Benibana Kokutai』 had been located in Yamagata prefecture in 1992.Nagai city was chosen for the location of table tennis competitions and students of elementary school showed their Kendama skills at the venue.The whole of Nagai city was involved in this event, many skilled players become grade holders from this event.The players who showed amazing Waza became a legends of the Kendama world of Nagai.
This is a group of people who are the 『Benibana generation』 and working towards connecting people through Kendama activities and teaching children the fun of Kendama.They continue their actions to encourage the area through Kendama, such as teaching Kendama in elementary schools and other educational facilities, opening work shops in events in the area trying for new Guinness world records.
World record by Kendama
On December 14th in 2016, the world record for the “Longest line of people catching a Kendama ball consecutively” was certified in Nagai city.The Waza known as 『Nagai styled Ozora domino』 was originally performed by the 『Benibana legend』 players at the National Sports Festival venue over 24 years ago.Nagai city will keep transmitting the enjoyment of the Kendama culture through holding this Kendama world record, and being established as the biggest Nintei-kendama manufacturer in japan.