Work has been really busy this week as well. Randy (my co NET and partner in crime for this past year) is leaving so we have both been training his replacement Jeff. It is making me think about training my replacement and giving me mixed feelings about when I will be leaving for Canada in exactly one month. Anyways, back to fun things I have been doing. Two weeks ago Yoshie, Randy, Stacy and I went to the Shirone Kite Festival. It was a blast. I will tell you about the actual festival in a minute. It is quite old and has a great back story so I will start with that.
The Nakanokuchi River is where the festival is held and it is also where our back-story begins. This man made river dug sometime in the sixteenth century literally tormented the local towns by flooding frequently. The mayors of the villages worked quite hard to keep peace and improve the levees. East Shirone (Shibata Clan) and West Shirone (Murakami Clan) however, were constantly in conflict with one another over flood control.
In May, 1737, Kamiyama Chubei (the head of East Shirone) had been invited to Shibata Castle to celebrate the birth of a boy in the Mizoguchi Clan. While there, Chubei was presented with a giant kite consisting of 30 pieces of Japanese paper. After returning to Shirone, Chubei , with the help of some youth, flied his kite from one of the newly completed levees. This kite of however, crashed and damaged the roof of a local farmer (Matemon) on the opposite bank. The two clans, having already built deep rooted grudges due to constant conflict over flood control took action. Mataemon immediately built a large kite and slammed it onto the roof of Chubei’s house, which brought on a kite war, which has now translated into the Shibata Kite Festival!
This is their ritualistic method of carrying the kite to the launch site. Almost like a casket, they come rushing along with their kite all rolled up.
I originally thought it was going to be uneventful but I was completely wrong. This surprisingly exciting event consisted of great food and kites crashing into people left and right! I even would have gotten smashed in the head once had I not blocked it with my forearm. They crashed every single kite into either the crowd or the river because it was not windy enough and yet continued to bring out kite after kite. I should also note that for a while we were right in the middle of one of the ‘crash zones’ which made for some ducking and dodging.
I also even got to join in! I memorized how to appropriately ask in Japanese and they were so surprised that I asked they said yes. It was a lot of fun. Anyways, that’s about it for me this week. I am hopefully going to Mt. Azuma next weekend with Yoshie. Here are the pictures.