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