Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kite Festival

A few weeks ago around the end of May we had the Tahara Kite Festival here in town. I didn't get to go last year because of a choir concert and for the same reason I wasn't able to attend very long this year but luckily the concert ended early and the festival ended late so I was able to see some real kite fighting action, which mostly consisted of me trying to figure out who was trying to cut who while avoiding being hit by kite strings lined with sharp glass.

Tahara Kite Festival
A team shows off their kites.

There is another larger and more famous kite festival in the nearby city of Hammatsu. The kites there are a lot bigger and a lot more colorful. Although the ones in Tahara aren't shrinking violets either. By the time I got there around 12, everyone had stopped for lunch. But when I came back after the concert they were having the final showdown. Even the mayor was in on the fun, fighting with a kite that had the city hall logo on it.

Tahara Kite Festival
Here they are getting ready to launch the kites.

The way it works is that each team has a kite that is sponsored by different families or businesses. They try to cut the other kites strings with the ground glass on their own string. On this day all the kites were either blue or red and they worked together to take down kites of the opposite color.

Tahara Kite Festival
The festival is held behind Jusco in the rice fields.

People hang out all day on their tarps and under tents, picnicking and watching the kites fly. They handed out small kites and free drinks at the library across the street from where the festival was held. We had to be very careful to not get caught in one of the kite lines that moved up and down the main street. It was bad for the kite and bad for us if we got in the way. One man in our group got hit with a line and he said it really really hurt.

Tahara Kite Festival
If you look closely you can see the kite line in this man is managing.

Tahara Kite Festival
They look so small up in the air.

It was a really good time. I don't have pictures of the group but a mix of Japanese people and foreigners showed up from Toyohashi and Nagoya to hang out with us locals and enjoy the kite festival. All of these pictures were taken by my friend Mako since I was busy traipsing off to choir to bother taking any. Now that I've seen the real deal, I'm very interested in going to Hammatsu's festival next year. And coming back to Tahara's again as well of course.

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