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Sagami Giant Kite festival is held annually on May 4 and 5 along the Sagami River bank. The site is near JR Sobudaishita (相武台下) on the JR Sagami Line.
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Panorama view of festival site.The site is on a baseball field, very dusty. The site is directly south and downstream from the Sagamihara kite festival site. It was a great idea to hold both kite festivals on the same days. We could see both in one day.
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Panorama of festival site.
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One of two giant kitesThis festival has two giant kites and two smaller (but still large) kites. Resting on its side, the kite was scheduled to fly at 2 pm. The kanji characters read "Michi no Eki" in reference to a new train station built in the town.
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Lean-to shade.
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Preparing the giant kite
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Rear view
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Lowering the kite
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Entertainment during Sagami Giant Kite Festival
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Corner rope work
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Take off of a smaller kite
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Moving the kite to launch point
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Do not enter signIn 2004, on a very windy day (almost typhoon strength), Zama's giant kite broke in the air and crashed to the ground onto spectators (who got hurt) on the side, right beyond the carp streamers in this picture. So from this year (2005), they have become very strict and cordoned off the area where the kite crashed.
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Patch up
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Also see the video at YouTube.
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Ready and all clear
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Take off of another smaller kite
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Moving the kite to launch point
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During July-Aug. 2007, I helped to make the Yokaichi giant kite at the annex of the Yokaichi Giant Kite Museum.where the giant kite is made. Every three years, the giant kite, flown every May in Higashi-Omi, is replaced by a new kite bearing a new design.The new kite was made during July-Aug. 2007, taking about 30 days. The kite is made by volunteers from the public under the instruction of the Yokaichi Giant Kite Preservation Society. For the first time, I helped make this giant kite which was first flown successsfully on May 25, 2008 at the annual kite festival.
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Lift off despite weak winds
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Kite pullers
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Festival siteThey did not allow people go enter the launch area at all times. Spectators were kept far away.
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Entrance to the annex and a sign indicating the day's event or work. Today, July 7, 2007, was the Noritsuke Pasting Ceremony. 八日市大凧まつり のりつけ式
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July 7, 2007: The making of the giant kite started with Noritsuke Pasting Ceremony where the new design was announced and dignitaries pasted together the first pieces of the kite paper.
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And we have lift off!
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No people on the sides either
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Before announcing the final kite design, they announced the three best (but not winning) design entries. The public was invited to submit kite designs based on the theme of "Life" or inochi.
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Successful flight
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Launch point on a low hill
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Twenty-six design entries were submitted this year. There was no top winner, so the final design was based on the three best designs. This design features the kanji "Yorokobu" or joyfulness. 今回のテーマは「いのち」
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Anchor
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TakoKites in the shape of an octopus is common because the Japanese word for kite is "tako" which is the same pronunciation for the word octopus in Japanese.
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They introduced the three best designs. 最優秀作品はなく、3点の優秀賞作品を参考に保存会が決めた。
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Preparing the big one.
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Better than SagamiharaZama's kite apparently was lighter than Sagamihara's kite because it went up much higher under the same wind conditions.
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Guest kite from Yokaichi, Shiga PrefectureThis is a smaller version of their giant kite. Yokaichi (Higashi Omi) also holds a giant kite festival in May.
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Also see the video at YouTube.
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The new kite design was then announced. Called Han-jimon (判じもん), the design expresses a certain theme using word play with a pair of animals and one or two kanji characters. 八日市大凧は3年に一度図柄を変える。
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Ran out of roomThe kite pullers can only run so far (about 50 meters or so). After that, if the wind doesn't kick in, the kite falls back down.
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Yokaichi's anchor truck
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Ride'em cowboyAs the kite quickly flew up, the forward kite pullers had to release the rope.
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The top kanji is "yorokobu" (joyfulness) which can also be read as "ki." The pair of hawks 鷹 can be read as "yo." And the bottom kanji is "sei" (living). It's "Kyosei."
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Beautiful lavendar
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Higashi-Omi mayor Nakamura Koichi explains the design. "Kyosei" 共生 means to co-exist (i.e. man and nature) or to live together harmoniously. 中村功一市長
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Bamboo poles used to prop up the giant kite.
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Rope anchor
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Another launchThey fly the kite a few times during the festival days.
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The mayor and one of the kite design artists wear a sash and pose for a picture before proceeding with the Noritsuke Ceremony.
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Moving the giant kite to launch site
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Rope anchor
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I saw the Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival (Odako Matsuri) for the first time on May 23, 2004. The site is alongside the Echigawa River near the Yachiyo Bridge. A free shuttle bus from Yokaichi Station is provided, taking about 10 min.
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They used a wide brush to apply paste to the edges of a piece of kite paper.
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Entertaiment
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Michi no EkiThe kite design is the same every year, but the kanji characters change. They make a new giant kite every year.
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They joined two sheets of kite paper together. This marked the first step in making the kite. The finished kite paper will consist of a few hundred washi paper sheets pasted together.
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Children's sumoZama had a variety of side events.
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More dignitaries paste the sheets of kite paper together.
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Spectators watch along the side and rear.
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Disassembly
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The pasted pieces are laid to dry.
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Zama's giant kiteSagamihara city is adjacent to Zama city which also held their own giant kite festival on the same day adjacent to Sagamihara's site. This is a launch of Zama's giant kite which soon went back to the ground due to inadequate winds.
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We were then invited to sign our names on the kite paper.
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Ready and all clearThe site is cleared of people before the launch.
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Rope anchor
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The kite design announcement and pasting ceremony lasted an hour, after which a group photo was taken.
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Inadequate windsThe kite struggles to lift off.
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Smaller kite "Yujo"
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Brief flightThe kite went back down almost immediately after hovering a few feet above ground.
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DisassemblyThe paper is actually large strips that can be removed and rolled up.
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"Yujo"This is a smaller kite. It means "Friendship."
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Crowds
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July 8, 2007: On the day after the pasting ceremony, the Kamitsugi or paper joining was next. 紙継ぎ
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Starting at 9:30 am, members of the giant kite preservation society began pasting and joining about 400 sheets of washi paper to make the giant kite paper.
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The top two rows of washi sheets already pasted together.
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The size of the room almost exactly matches the size of the giant kite which is 12 meters by 13 meters or 100 tatami mats.
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The paper is Mino Washi, from Gifu Prefecture. It is white, and surprisingly thin. I thought it would be thicker. Six or so sheets are stacked while slightly spread apart.
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She fell
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The stacked paper is put on a table where water-based paste is applied to one horizontal and one vertical paper edge.
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Patch up
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Each person holds one edge-pasted sheet and line up to align and join the sheet. Each sheet measures about 90 cm by 60 cm. There are also half-size sheets.
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Anybody can help do this. The public is invited to sign their names on a sheet and paste it to the big kite paper.
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The sheets are joined in the same pattern as a brick wall. Every other row of sheets has a half sheet along the edge. Notice the autographs of people on the paper.
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"Nakama"This is another smaller kite. It means "Circle of Friends."
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So the giant kite is actually made of many smaller sheets of paper joined together. Notice my "philbert" autograph on the bottom.
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Anchor truck
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Mini kite contest. Kite contestants show off their kite designs at their tents.
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People sign their names on a washi sheet.
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Amateur areaFurther downwind was the amateur area for flying normal kites.
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There are also smaller sheets of paper where you can write a wish and sign your name. Paste will be applied to these sheets which will be used to fasten the bamboo frame to the giant paper.
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Another launch
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The work proceeds.
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The last sheet is pasted and joined. The job was finished in 3 hours.
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The giant kite paper is finished, taking up the floor space of the entire room.
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Another beautiful take off
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After every kite-making session, they take a picture of all the volunteer participants. It was very interesting. Anybody can participate on any day. Call the kite museum for schedule details: 0748-23-0081.
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July 16, 2007: Initial sketching and vermilion painting. A sketch of the design was made with a charcoal pencil. 下絵・墨
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The giant kite's main and largest kanji character "sei" is painted in vermilion.
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A plastic bucket (the same kind used when you take a bath) with paint and a brush is used.
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The Big One. The size is equivalent to 100 tatami mats or about 12 meters x 13 meters (156 square meters).
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May 27, 2007 was a bad day for giant kite flying in Yokaichi, as the giant kite crashes head-first into a bamboo grove on its first and last flight during the Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival.
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Poster
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At slightly past noon with medium-force winds, the giant kite is launched. The kite immediately went straight up. The giant kite is 13 meters high and 12 meters wide, and weighs 700 kg.
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The red and ornage colors are painted first on the kite, while the black and gray colors are painted later.
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It flew very high, up to about 150 meters, then veered to the right, over our heads.
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Then it suddenly dove straight down and crashed head-first into the bamboo grove. Ironically, the blue banner on the left says, "Ganbatte" (Do your best).
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Spots of white are made on purpose to give a brush stroke effect.
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The giant kite was swallowed whole by the bamboo trees. No one was hurt. Also see my YouTube video here. 大凧が竹やぶに落下
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The "yorokobu" or "ki" kanji is also painted on the same day.
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All we could see were the kite strings.
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The design sketch is being completed.
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The sign says "Arigato gozaimasu" (Thank you). I guess the bamboo was hungry for a giant kite.
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Plastic pails and brushes
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This was the 2nd time in three years for the giant kite to meet a major accident. In 2005, the kite broke in half in the sky and crashed into a crowd of people below.
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Vermilion paint
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"So how does it look?" "It looks pretty bad, boss."
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The sketch of the hawk is completed.
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Members of the giant kite preservation society look on as the disappointing and heartbreaking situation is assessed.
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Hawk eye
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Carved paper
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Hanging on to the strings...
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Wing corner
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As I expected, they soon started cutting down the bamboo.
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Local cable TV station also came to cover the kite-making progress.
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A small clearing was made around the kite.
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A brush stroke effect
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No way would this guy be able to pull the kite out of this one...
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How he wished that he could just pull the strings to drag the kite out.
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The kite strings were too tangled in the bamboo.
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"Yorokobu" or "ki"
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A closer look at the accident scene. The kite suffered significant damage, and it took about 20 days to repair.
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As I predicted again, they started disassembling the kite so they could roll (crumple) it up and carry it out. The kite was not flown again for this festival. It was to be its final flight since it will be replaced next year.
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Carrying out bamboo. Many people left the festival after the kite crash.
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Vermilion painting of "sei" is complete.
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Stack of cut bamboo.
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Group photo of those who worked on the kite this time. This session was 9:30 am to noon.
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People's fortune stickers on the kite. 願い札
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Medium-size kites entered in a kite-flying contest.
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July 31, 2007: Bamboo frame work and picture-edge frame work. 骨組(絵骨)Hone-gumi (Ebone)
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A diagonal grid of thin, rod-like bamboo criss-crossed the entire kite. They are now using string to tie the bamboo intersections.
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Tied bamboo intersections. The rod-like bamboo are supported by larger pieces of bamboo.
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Kite edges are lined with a thicker bamboo to which the rod-like bamboo are tied.
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This intricate bamboo frame supports the kite paper so it does not flap around like normal paper.
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The bamboo frame work is done after the kite design is painted.
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Bamboo rods and sticks.
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Hawk eye painted.
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Wing
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Stringing the kite
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Besides the diagonal grid of bamboo rods, a bamboo rod is also fastened along the edges of the design where the paper will be cut out (or carved out). These bamboo rods keep the edges of the cut-out paper taut. Otherwise it would flap around in the wind.
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Still more tying to do.
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Tying the bamboo frame is considered to be one of the more tedious tasks, so we were rewarded with a pair of gloves with the kite design. These gloves will also give us higher priority to pull the kite during the kite festival.
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Group photo. Quite a few people worked during this 3-hour afternoon session.
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Aug. 5, 2007: Paper cutting 切り抜き Kiri-nuki. First they reversed the kite paper so the bottom side was up. Then they re-installed the bamboo grid as shown here.
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The bamboo grid is carefully aligned with the kite design.
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The bamboo grid was temporarily fixed with weights and some tape.
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Intricate bamboo grid/frame fitting all shapes along the edges.
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Ready for flight
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Wing portion before paper cutting.
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Wing portion after paper cutting.
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How they do it: First they cut along the outline of the picture leaving ample space. Then they cut it perpendicular to the edge to make paper flaps.
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The paper flaps are applied with paste and then folded over the bamboo rod.
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See the paper flaps pasted over the edge.
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Almost finished. This paper cutting step took 3 days to complete.
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Kite corner
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On May 25, 2008 at the Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival, the new giant kite was flown for the first time. The wind conditions was good.
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