Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hamamatsu Kite Festival

The day after going to Odawara I went to the Hamamatsu Kite Festival, which is held every year from the third to the fifth of May. Hamamatsu is a city on the coast in the Shizouka prefecture, about an hour and a half on the Shinkansen from Tokyo.

The kites are huge and are around three metres in length. They need about ten people to fly them in each team and seeing all of them in the sky was an amazing sight. Each team comes from a different block in Hamamamatsu and each kite has a different design representing the block. In total there are about 170 teams.

As well as flying the kites in each team there are also people playing trumpets to accompany them, which added greatly to the atmosphere. Even children got involved and it was nice to see such a great show of community spirit.

Apparently, the aim is to knock the opponents kite out of the sky by cutting the strings using a kite, although I didn't really see much evidence of this.

I also got to fly a kite. Ahh....... It took me back to my childhood.

Obviously the part of my childhood before I started drinking cider in bus shelters.

The festival is believed to date from the Eiroku Era(1558-1569). When the Lord of Hikuma Castle, Iwo Buzen-no-kami, had his first son and heir called Yoshihiro, a kite was flown to celebrate his birth.

The festival also coincides with Boy's Day, when carp flags are displayed around the country.

Later that night there was a huge procession with around 70 floats representing different blocks around the city. The floats were illuminated and were all very beautiful.

Whilst I was in Hamamatsu I met a great bunch of people and we went to an isakaya for a few drinks. You can see the picture

Sitting next to us was
a group of Japanese people who had been working at the festival. Just as I was leaving I told them that the Hamamatsu kite festival was sugoi(wonderful). This was greeted with much cheering and clapping and they very kindly gave me glass of shochu, which I had to drink down in one.

Afterwards I got on the Shinkansen for Osaka, where I stayed in a capsule hotel, ready for my trip to Hiroshima the next day.

The official website for Hamamatsu is

here for all the photos.