Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

History of Kites - Japan

Another country in which the kite became important was Japan. According to legend, Buddhist monks brought kite technology to Japan during the Nara Period, which lasted from about 649-794 AD. By 981 AD the word "paper hawk" or "Kami Tobi" appeared in the Japanese language. The name suggests that most Japanese kites were bird shaped.

The Japanese developed many useful uses for kites. They were used to lift roofing tiles and other building materials to the tops of shrines and other buildings under construction. There are many legends involving kites as well. An Icarus type tale with a happy ending involves a twelfth century Japanese warrior and his son who was exiled to an island. The son grew lonely and the father, sympathetic to his son's plight, built a huge kite which the son rode to escape to the mainland.

One Japanese tradition involves the carp and kites. When a new son is born, a carp shaped kite is flown. May 5 is Boys Day in Japan and parents fly carp shaped kites in equal number to the sons which they have. In Japan the carp is the symbol of courage and strength. This is because the carp must swim upstream past many obstacles to reach its spawning grounds.

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