Japan Society of Fairfield County
Greenwich Kite Festival, April 12, 2006

Japanese Kite       The Japanese kites certainly flew the furthest even if they did not fly the highest when the Japan Society of Fairfield County was invited by the Greenwich Arts Council to take part in the Town of Greenwich Kite Flying Festival on April 12, 2008.  Some kites were flown all the way from Japan by Ms. Reiko Achiwa while others were constructed and painted in Greenwich by Mr. Noboru Uezumi, Mr. Harry Sakamaki and Ms. Victoria Hackman.  When it came to flying the kites, Ms. Achiwa and Ms. Sakamaki were experts as can be seen in the photos.  Mr. Sakamaki was kept busy making kites with children and translating into Japanese the names of Greenwich Time staff writer, Meredith Blake, and Greenwich Arts Council Executive Director, Frank Juliano, and then flattering them with the translations.  How come women’s names always translated to beautiful and talented?
     It is thought that kites were first introduced into Japan by Buddhist missionaries who travelled from China in the Nara period (649-794).  At that time kites were mainly used in religious and thanks giving ceremonies.  It was later in the Edo period (1603 – 186) that most of the beautiful Japanese kites we know today were developed.
     Japan's kites are among the most spectacular in the world. There are about 130 different styles and types of kites, each region having its own unique shape. The kites are normally decorated with characters from Japanese folklore, mythology or have some religious or symbolic meaning.  The traditional kite consists of a light bamboo or wood frame over which is affixed paper painted with various bold motives.   Some Japanese kites are immense, over a thousand square feet, and, as you can imagine, require considerable skill in handling if they are to be airborne successfully.
     Traditionally kites are flown on Boy's Day May 5th, (the 5th day of the 5th month) and New Year as well as at religious festivals and other public holidays. At Harvest Festival kites are flown with stalks of rice attached as a symbolic offering of thanks for a good crop.
The Japan Society of Fairfield County is planning to participate in the Kite Flying Festival again next year so if you are going to Japan, plan on bringing back a traditional kite.  Or if staying closer to Connecticut, plan on joining us for our next kite building workshop.

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