It was the perfect opportunity for people watching. Almost everyone was wearing hoppi - the jackets worn during festivals. Most people had the pants and split toe shoes on as well. And almost every girl I saw looked like she had been to the salon that morning to have her hair done. This is no small festival! It's really billed as the Hamamatsu Festival rather than the "Kite" festival per say but the kites really are the biggest draw. Even so we also saw some taiko drummers and nearer the station we saw some floats that I imagine are carried around town in much the same way they are in Tahara.
But we were there for the kites. They weren't battling that day but instead each neighborhood kite association would gather around one of their enormous paper kites. Each kite had the name of any new babies born in the last year emblazoned in the corner. Those same babies were hoisted up on the shoulders of one of the men and then a small band of elementary school children toting trumpets would play and the adults would cheer. It was really cool to see each group welcoming the new child to the community. And because Hamamatsu is a large city there were lots of bands and lots of babies and lots of kites.
Once the ritual welcome was performed then the kites were ready to fly. The wind wasn't being very cooperative at first but eventually the sky was filled with hand-painted paper kites. Marie tested my Japanese reading skills by making me translate the kanji (or hirigana) on each. After some festival food and a nice time watching the kites we stood in line again for the bus ride back to the station. We spent more time getting to the kite festival than we did at the kite festival!
Marie and I pose in hoppi.
These cute old ladies are taiko drummers. They were so nice to let me snap their picture.
Everyone was wearing their festival clothes.
They are big kites.
They took several people to move.
You can see the baby just under the flag. The adults are dancing around him.
There were bands of children everywhere playing their instruments.
Getting the kite ready to fly.
A view from a small hill.
These guys had a better vantage point though I think.