TOKYO A pen is spun in the hand, flicked from the little finger to other fingers, then tossed and bounced off the thumb before being twirled in the palm.
Ryuki Omura, a 16-year-old Japanese high school student, has become the first nationwide pen-spinning champion with such slick maneuvers, a group devoted to the pastime said on Monday.
Omura was among the 16 finalists chosen from 276 video entries to showcase his moves in Tokyo on Sunday in a contest organized by the Pen Spinning Association Japan.
"The most important thing is to make the combination of tricks as smooth as possible," said Mitsuhiro Nakamata of the group.
Contestants, performing a 30-second routine in front of a crowd of 400 including journalists and other pen-spinning aficionados, were assessed for technique and artistry.
Toy maker Takara Tomy Corp has even designed a pen specifically for spinning, which is longer than ordinary pens and has adjustable weights on both ends.
According to the Pen Spinning Association's Web site, spinning tricks range from "normal" -- resting the pen on the side of the middle finger, then flicking it to writing mode -- to "sonic" -- holding the pen between the middle and ring fingers, and twirling it so it rests between the middle and index fingers.
Champion Omura went a step further, showing off a quick combination of tricks that takes the pen from his little finger to the rest of his fingers, then to his palm and the back of his hand. The video clip he submitted for the contest is posted on the group's Web site (ptj2008.pen-spinning.org/).
"Pens are always around, so you can practice and enjoy pen-spinning anytime, anywhere," said Nakamata.
"If we can find a sponsor, we want to take this contest international."
(Reporting by Chisa Fujioka; editing by Sophie Hardach)