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America childhood Japan Sapporo

A Multiple Wammy

Wammy is a Japanese toy recently on the market that consists of pliable pieces of plastic that can be connected to other pieces to make virtually anything.  Without having tried the toy myself, I bought a box of them for my five year old sister Paige, and sent them to her for Christmas.  They were a huge hit.  They were the present she played with on Christmas morning, and made her the envy of all her cousins.

paigeswammies

This toy is not yet available in America, and I had thought it was only being sold in Japan, but apparently it has made its debut in the UK.  Follow this link to see a five minute video (almost entirely in Japanese, but you can get the idea) about the toy’s popularity abroad so far.

wamii.jpg

One strange thing about the toy’s creation is what inspired the idea for the shape of the pieces.  Nejiri konnyaku or “twisted konjac,” a common Japanese food made from an odd gelatinous food made from an odd type of yam.  Here’s a photo:

Konjac

If anyone is curious what “Wammy” means, well, it’s a Japanese pun of sorts.  Combining the words for loop (wakko) and to braid (amu, or ami in the nominal form), we get wamii, which looks better when spelled Wammy (for decorative English purposes).

Since hearing about how much Paige enjoyed the toy, and watching the previous video, I decided to try some Wammies myself, and bought a small “ocean” themed set for 500 yen the last time I was at Bic Camera in Sapporo.  Along with Yoshie, we couldn’t stop playing with them.  They’re fun, addictive, and as my father said, much much more enjoyable than Legos because they allow one to be much more creative, building and destroying without worrying about how you’re going to take it all apart or where you’re going to put it or what you’re going to do with it when you’re done.  It’s a toy that maximizes exploration, one that’s hard to put down once you’ve started experimenting.