“Wadako” Japanese Kites Made With Bamboo and Paper
Traditional Japanese kites, known as “wadako”, are fashioned out of bamboo rods and Japanese paper (“washi”). Rectangular (“kakudako”) and human-shaped (“yakkodako”) kites are two of the more popular shapes among the amazingly diverse forms across different regions, but the long stabilizing streamers are a common feature. Standard Japanese kites measure 1 square meter (10.7 square feet) and feature paintings of historical heroes or good luck kanji characters, colorfully illustrated to be visible from far away.
The Shrione Kite Museum in Niigata Prefecture features hundreds of kites on display. Check out the Japan & World Kites exhibition for an interesting contrast.
Shrione Kite Museum
Address: 1770-1 Jogesuwanoki, Minami-ku, Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture
Museum Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (entrance until 4:30 p.m.)
Getting There: From JR Niigata station, take the Niigata Kotsu W7 Ono-Shirone sightseeing bus line to the Shirone Sakura-machi stop, then 15 minutes on foot.
Closed Days: Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month (or the following day if Wednesday is a National Holiday). December 28th-January 3rd.
Huge Kites Rise in the Blue Sky
Ever heard of battling kites? Every year from May 3rd to 5th in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, kite flyers display their mettle by competing to wear down and sever each others’ strings at the Hamamatsu Matsuri. At the same event, a colossal kite is flown by a neighborhood association who toil away on building it for months. You can’t join in on flying the big kites, but seeing the sky filled with color is an amazing spectacle! The festival does, however, give visitors a chance to fly mini-Japanese kites.
Hamamatsu isn’t the only place kite festivals are held. On May 4th and 5th in Kanagawa Prefecture’s Sagamihara City, the Sagami Big Kite Festival gets underway. A colossal 210 square meter (2260 square foot) monster kite rises into the sky in a tradition carried on since 1830.
During the same period, Saitama Prefecture’s Kasukabe City holds the Kite Flying Festival (May 3rd to 5th), boasting its own mega-kite measuring 165 square meters (1776 square feet). At this time of year, other places across Japan are flying high, too!
Hamamatsu Kite Battle Festival
Event Location: Nakatajima kite flying ground
Getting There: Direct shuttle bus from JR Hamamatsu station, approx. 20 minutes.
Visitors can get a hands-on look at the battle kites and fly their own mini kite. You can sign up directly at the event site (prior reservation not required).
Sagami Big Kite Festival
Event Location: Shindo Sports Ground, Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Getting There: 15 minutes on foot from JR Sobudaishta station.
During the May 4-5 festival period, a free shuttle bus travels to and from the station every 20-30 minutes (prior reservation not required).
Kasukabe Kite Flying Festival
Event Location: Edo River grounds (south of Hoshubana bridge), Nishihoshubana, Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture
Getting There: On May 4-5 2017, take the direct shuttle bus from Kasukabe station East exit 20 minutes to the Odako Park stop, then 3 minutes on foot.
* prior reservation not required.
Experience the appeal of Japan’s traditional kite flying festivals every May.