Most people in Japan outgrow this game by the time they finish grade school, but Kyoko Fukada had adults’ attention.

One of the perks to working for a company with an international staff is the opportunities for insight into the culture of each other’s countries. For example, our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun, recently told us what he asserts are Japan’s three greatest cultural achievements: refined hospitality, delicious sushi, and actress/singer Kyoko Fukada.

The Tokyo native’s attractive proportions have won her plenty of admirers, and have certainly helped sales of her photo collection.

But perhaps he best encapsulation of Fukada’s charm comes in this video, which racked up a million views in less than a day. Given her attire in the above photos, you might expect her video wardrobe to be equally bold, but the 35-year-old Fukada is instead dressed completely modestly, letting her dazzling smile and marginal skill at traditional children’s game kendama charm enthrall a sizable swath of Japan’s population.

If you’ve never seen someone playing kendama before, the game is sort of like a more complicated version of Western ball-in-a-cup toys, with a small hole in the ball and a wooden spike to catch it on. While kendama has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance in Japan over the past few years, it’s still a very old-school, low-key, pastime, enjoyed primarily by young children. But on the set of TV drama Tonari no Kazoku ha Aoku Mieru (“The Family is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence”), shown in the video, there’s a kendama as part of the set dressing, and Fukada, the series’ female lead, says that once she sees one, she can’t resist the urge to sneak in a few tries.

▼ Fukada sends out a New Year’s greeting to her fans.

After its sprint to the million-view mark, Fukada’s kendama video has lost a bit of momentum, but in just three days since being posted, it’s worked its way past 1.4 million. P.K. himself figures 17 of those are his, and considering Fukada’s popularity in Thailand, maybe she’ll help popularize kendama in the southeast Asian nation as well.

Source, top image: Instagram/kyokofukada_official
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