Fighting Kites – Hamamatsu’s Festival

On the last day of the office “Golden Week” holiday, I headed out with my friends/students to the city of Hamamatsu to take part in the festivities. There are 2 parts to the famous festival, the “kite fighting” out on the sand dunes and then the twilight/night parades with dozens of wooden “floats” which I think of more like huge, ornately decorated wagons.

This festival actually goes on for 3 days and we went on the last day – which I think was probably a good thing since about 2 million people attend this festival annually. Luckily we had nice sunny/cloudy weather, there didn’t seem to have too many people there and I got to go with some fun people!

The rest of the information is from the tourist site

2 medium sized kites

~More than 100 kites are flown in the sky over the Nakatajima Dunes, one of the three largest sand dunes in Japan, which overlooks the Enshunada Sea. Here you can see many large kites measuring 3.5 meters by 3.5 meters. Then to the sound of the trumpet, the fighting starts. Making the 5-mm thick hemp strings intertwine, the kite-fliers try to cut their opponents’ strings by friction, which is very exciting to watch. The strings burn, giving off a scorched smell.

Cutie pie!


Up, up & away!

~This festival dates back to the 16th Century when large kites were flown in celebration of the birth of a baby son to the Lord of Hamamatsu Castle. Even today, kites are flown at Hamamatsu when a baby boy is born, a custom known as hatsudako. On May 5th, a festive day to pray for boys’ good health and a bright future, it is the custom in Japan to fly decorations called koinobori, which are carp-shaped streamers. Carp are known to swim up waterfalls and this powerful image of the carp overlaps with the image of advancing in one’s career. In Hamamatsu City, koinobori are displayed in a grand style, with the carp streamers flying on wooden poles as tall as 10 meters.

The guys retrieving their fallen kite


Stuck in a 30ft tree – amusing to watch them try to get them down!


The kites “fighting” – which means ropes rubbing and fraying


About 25 kites were left… not sure how there is ever a winner!


Watching the crowds, trumpets blowing, flags waving…


The “floats”

~At night, you will see some 100 palace-like floats in the center of Hamamatsu City. This is a parade of floats of gorgeous sculpture works carrying three-stringed lute and flute bands. This was originally a parade welcoming youngsters returning from the kite-flying contest. All these events are organized as part of the Hamamatsu Matsuri (Hamamatsu Festival).

They are so pretty all lit up with the neighborhood people walking in front and back carrying more lanterns


This lady scared me – too serious!


What all kids do while they’re waiting for the adults…


Atsuko trying to eat a cat!



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