Kite flying in Japan

If there’s one thing most people visiting Japan can agree on, it’d most likely that there is always something to do in Japan. The country is truly blessed with a people bringing such diversity and excitement, making it hard for anyone who’s ever been to Japan say their time in the country had been “boring.”

Japan is also blessed with some of the most extraordinary natural landscapes in the world, which are a common point of national pride for the island nation’s inhabitants. Not many other countries can boast a variety of environments as diverse and often picturesque as Japan possess. With an abundance of access to nature’s finest, it comes as little surprise that many of the best things to do in Japan are in the outdoors.

An outdoor activity that isn’t on the radar of many when they put Japan and “outdoors” in the same context is Kite Flying. A reason for this is that while many in the western world do so as children, they never get the opportunity to go outside and fly a kite as an adult – until they have their own children and do it with them, that is. Add to that the era of the internet and technology and we’re presented with a dying form of enjoyment. Flying kites is one of the simplest outdoor activities and is a wonderful opportunity for families and friends to bond and strengthen relationships.

Kites shown on traditional Japanese artwork

Unlike much of the western world, the Japanese have not forgotten about the simple joys of watching a kite soar through the air in the slightest. Flying kites have been in Japan since sometime around 700 AD, brought to the country from China by the way of Buddhist missionaries. That’s a long time ago – so long in fact that there’s an entire museum dedicated to the art located in Tokyo, called the Teimeiken Kite Museum.

Japan is also well known for its traditional festivals held for numerous occasions throughout the year. There are also a number of festivals involved kites, with some even centered on the act of letting kites soar through the air. One of them is the Sagami Giant Kite Festival, held on May 4 and 5 each year in the Kanagawa Prefecture. The festival has been around since the 1830s and was initially held to celebrate the birth of a child. Over time the festival grew in uniformity – and the kites grew in size, to the point where the kites are now close to 15 meters in height and close to 1 tonne in weight, making the entire festival a spectacle to see.

One of the giant kites.

First image by asahi-net.or.jp

Second image by kcpwindowonjapan

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