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Animal of the Week - Fauna
Class - Insecta
Genus and Species - Vanessa atalanta
A Red Admiral Butterfly Atop the Acropolis in Athens, Greece
Bird of the Week - Avies Class
Order - Pelecaniformes
Genus and Species - Ardea alba
A Great Egret Ready to Swallow A Small Fish In A Pond Near Lake Jackson, Texas (USA)
Country Image of the Week
Gargoyles Looking Down From the Side of Metz Cathedral in Metz, France
Culture Image of the Week
The Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji In Kyoto City, Japan
The Giant Japanese Kites of Sagamihara and Zama Cities
One of the great traditions in Kanagawa Prefecture is the annual Giant Kites of Sagami festival. Held on the banks of the Sagami River, it stretchers along riverbanks of both Sagamihara City and Zama City. There are generally four separate areas where the kites are flown, and activities are held at each location.
Festivals related to kites take place in different parts of Japan every year. Like other traditions, the necessary skills, and knowledge have been passed down through the generations. The tradition of giant kites is said to date back to early 1830s during the Edo Period. Initially it was a way to celebrate special occasions, but it grew over time to become a regional tradition in the Sagami area.
The kites used at the festival are created from scratch every year. The kites are made of large sheets of bamboo poles, washi paper, and string. The lightness of the materials allow very large kites to fly with a moderate wind. Trailing each kite are two to three long ropes that act as the tails of the kites. Interestingly, the kites are not considered to be flying until they have reached such a height that the tails of the kites no longer touch the ground.
Work on the kites usually begins in the fall when bamboo is cut and dried. Sometime around March or April smaller pieces of washi paper are put together to form the large sheets. Once the paper is dry, the craftsmen can then paint the kanji calligraphy. The design changes each year and input is taken from the community regarding which kanji characters will be used. Next, smaller bamboo poles are attached to larger bamboo poles that will become the main kite structure. The paper is then tied to the kite and more bamboo are added for strength. When complete, the kites can
measure an impressive 14.5 meters across!
All the Sagami kites, no matter what size, takes a team of people to get it airborne. In fact, the kites are so large that they can pose a hazard to the spectators along the riverbanks. Thus, police and fire officials usually keep all spectators a safe distance away, but close enough to see the action. The kites may remain in the air for several minutes or several hours. This depends in large part on the
The Sagami kite festival is said to be one the 50 special Kanagawa Prefecture yearly events. It is well worth the trip to enjoy the beautiful part of Japanese culture.
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