Kendama Europe - the founding story

In 2008, the three friends – Sebastian, Marc, and Philipp – founded the first Kendama company in Europe, which later became Kendama Europe GmbH. How did it happen?

Friends Sebastian Hohentanner and Marc Wibbels lived together in Munich during their studies. Sebastian received a scholarship for his Japanese studies, leading Marc to visit him in Japan for a month in January 2008. Marc, who always had a passion for skill games of all kinds, discovered Kendama in a small shop in Sapporo and brought it back to Germany. In response to requests from friends and acquaintances, he asked his friend Basti to send a handful more Kendamas to Germany.

Upon Basti's return from Japan, Marc, Basti, and Philipp founded Europe's first company exclusively focused on importing and distributing the skill game Kendama, under the then ASPO GbR. Sebastian, as a linguistically skilled Japanologist, handled communication with manufacturers in Japan, the Japanese Kendama Association, and all import businesses. Marc, as a media manager, primarily managed communication, event planning, and the brand building of the company. Philipp primarily took care of structures, ideas, and implementations in the background.

The first sales platform was a specially created webshop, which is now considered Europe's first Kendama webshop – It became a bit tight, especially at the beginning, as crates of Kendamas were stacked in their own small shared rooms, which also served as offices, study spaces, and bedrooms.


To meet the requirements of German toy regulations, Japanese Kendamas were tested for toy conformity by TÜV Süd. German instructions were written, printed at home, cut, folded, and packaged. With the first larger orders, this sometimes meant working night shifts, with hours spent packing Kendamas by hand.

Regularly, they participated in various types of festivals, events, and fairs, mainly within the country. Press work included self-written press releases and occasional contributions in the TV and radio sectors.






At some point, the scene slowly began to grow, gradually expanding, and Kendama Europe started building a team of players around itself, with whom the first championships were won. The rest is history.

The first fairs and people's reactions were a great experience.


Marc and Tomoya Mukai make their first appearance on German television.


If you're interested in the formation of our player team, take a look at the next blog article. :)

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