Do you play kendama? Probably not, on an everyday basis at least, though you may well have tried it a few times if you live in Japan.

Ito says his family was understanding. When he told his parents he would like to be a kendama professional, he recalls, his mother said she'd been expecting him to say that, and his father also supported him in seeking to pursue his own way of life.

"Because of the support from my family, I have been able to come this far," he says.